Labour election strategists argued against targeting seats north of the border in 2019 because the party is “not regarded as a serious rival” by the public, it has been revealed.
Confidential party documents, circulated before last year’s election, concluded it was not “efficient” to invest in winning Scottish seats from the SNP and advised to instead target seats in England and Wales.
The “key seats strategy” memo, leaked online, has been cited by the SNP as evidence Labour is “finished” in Scotland.
The document states: “There is no evidence that organisational investment in Scottish seats will deliver improved electoral outcomes and there is abundant evidence from the analysis of recent general elections that spending money in contests where we are not competitive (almost all contests in Scotland) is a much less efficient way of achieving changed electoral outcomes than investing in tighter electoral contests elsewhere in Britain.”
It adds: “To achieve any given small percentage increase in vote share for Labour in a seat in Scotland where we are not regarded by the electorate as a serious rival to the incumbent requires a substantially larger investment of human and financial resources than in a seat in England or Wales where we are so regarded.”
Just over five years ago Labour held 41 out of Scotland’s 59 seats, at last December’s poll the party returned just one MP – Ian Murray.
Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil, who took his seat from Labour in 2005, said: “Labour are finished in Scotland. They are the Morris Minor of politics, people sort of remember them, occasionally fondly, but no one will travel in them again.”
SNP MSP David Torrance said: “Labour are a busted flush and all but irrelevant in Scottish politics. This leaked document is further evidence, if needed, that their support base has totally collapsed in their former heartlands.
“The party’s leadership is completely out of touch with working families in Scotland. The longer they choose to cover their ears, and side with the Tories in an attempt to deny voters a say on their future, the further down the polls they will slide.”
A Scottish Labour spokesman said: “This document clearly shows that a number of seats in Scotland were prioritised during the 2019 UK General Election campaign and the Scottish campaign received support throughout.
“As Richard Leonard leads Scottish Labour into the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, we are fighting for every vote and every seat. Our bold policy platform calls for a Green New Deal, a National Care Service and a quality Jobs Guarantee Scheme.”