Page last updated at 14:52 GMT, Saturday, 19 July 2008 15:52 UK

SNP hopeful despite poll findings

Margaret Curran
Labour candidate Margaret Curran arrives at the Forge Shopping centre

Scotland's first minister has insisted that the SNP are on course to win the Glasgow East by-election, despite a poll giving Labour a 15-point lead.

Alex Salmond said the same poll showed his party had doubled its support in the constituency since 2005.

The Scottish Daily Mail poll came on the final weekend of campaigning for the Westminster seat.

The main parties were all out meeting shoppers less than a week before electors get the chance to vote.

The newspaper poll, conducted by Progressive Scottish Opinion, questioned 509 voters between Monday and Thursday.

It put Labour at 52%, the SNP at 35%, the Liberal Democrats at 3% and the Conservatives at 7%.

'Support is strong'

At the last Westminster election in 2005 those parties achieved 61%, 17%, 12%, and 7% respectively, on a turnout of 48%.

The poll also suggested that 29% of electors had yet to make up their minds on who to vote for.

Mr Salmond said in the constituency on Saturday that he was confident the Nationalists could close the gap.

Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond celebrates during a game of bowls at Garrowhill Bowling Club

He said: "Our support is strong, motivated, and it's going to turn out.

"The poll shows a lot of undecideds - but the only reason those people are undecided is they are moving from the Labour Party to the SNP."

SNP candidate John Mason is a 51-year-old accountant and a Glasgow councillor for 10 years.

Labour responded to the poll saying it was taking nothing for granted.

A party spokesman said: "We are not going to get carried away by this poll.

"We know this by-election will be a real fight. We are taking nothing for granted and fighting for every vote."

Fire station petition

The party is fielding Margaret Curran, 49, who is currently MSP for the Holyrood constituency of Baillieston, which falls within Glasgow East.

She spent the day on walkabouts and attending campaign street stalls in shopping centres.

Ms Curran said: "As the campaign enters its final stage, I will be fighting for every vote.

"I intended to spend this weekend speaking to local people to tell them that I will never talk down the east end, as my hard-line Nationalist opponent has done."

Party logos
Labour is defending a majority of more than 13,500 in Glasgow East

Liberal Democrats, fielding Ian Robertson, 30, a maths teacher, also campaigned among shoppers and collected signatures for a petition against a local fire station closure.

Mr Robertson said: "I call again on my opponents in this election to stand beside me and join my campaign in support of this vital local service."

Tory candidate Davena Rankin was joined by Scottish Tory leader Annabel Goldie and shadow Scottish secretary David Mundell.

At next Thursday's vote, Labour will be defending a majority of 13,507 after the resignation on health grounds of MP David Marshall.

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Biggleswade Chronicle Nick Clegg hits campaign trail - 13 hrs ago
The Scotsman Round one to Labour as SNP accused of hypocrisy over 'two jobs' jibe - 18 hrs ago
Rye and Battle Observer Parties battle for by-election win - 19 hrs ago

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