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Wednesday, 23 May, 2001, 17:09 GMT 18:09 UK
Scots polls pointing to a repeat
Polls graph
This year's general election results in Scotland are still on course to broadly resemble those of 1997, if opinion polls are accurate, according to analyst Professor John Curtice.

The latest System Three poll carried out for The Herald newspaper suggests that the Scottish Tories are facing another bleak result.

The poll suggested Labour are on 50%, the Scottish National Party on 25%, the Tories on 12%, the Lib Dems on 9% and the Scottish Socialist Party on 3% with just over two weeks to go.

Prof Curtice, of Strathclyde University, said the poll appeared to suggest that the Tories were failing to get their message across.


There is certainly some argument going on about the relative merits of some of the opinion polls in Scotland

Prof John Curtice
Speaking on BBC Scotland's Holyrood Live programme he said it was useful to consider the latest poll's findings with that of one carried out during the 1997 general election campaign.

Scottish Tory President Sir Malcolm Rifkind has attempted to rubbish the System Three poll and said that if it had been around in 1745, they would have predicted that Bonnie Prince Charlie would have won the Battle of Culloden.

Liberal Democrat Leader Charles Kennedy has been similarly dismissive of the poll.

Prof Curtice said: "Well there is certainly some argument going on about the relative merits of some of the opinion polls in Scotland.

"Perhaps the most illuminating way of thinking about it is to compare System Three's result today with where System Three themselves stood in 1997.

John Curtice
Prof Curtice: Draws parallels with 1997 campaign
"And what we discover then is that Labour and the SNP are within a point of where they were in 1997, while both the Tories and the Lib Dems are down a couple of points.

"Now I think there are two things that one can say about that.

"The first is that all of those differences are within sampling error and that secondly - therefore - probably the message of this poll is that Scotland is heading for a result in 2001 that is not that different from that of 1997."

Prof Curtice said the outcome in terms of exact number of seats at the 2001 election may of course differ from 1997.

He said: "Even if the Conservatives are right in their criticism that perhaps this poll tends to put them too low, they were barely any higher in this same poll in 1997.

Positive news

"It doesn't suggest they are making any significant comeback in Scotland."

Prof Curtice said the Lib Dems should also be concerned with the findings of the latest poll.

"They should be worried in so far as Scotland contains 10 of the 47 seats that they currently hold."

However, he added that the party would be more concerned with the 11 seats that they have an interest in - 10 of these which they currently hold.

Prof Curtice added that the party would still feel that they had to impact on the electorate in the Highlands.

A 3% rating provided positive news for the Scottish Socialist Party, which is standing in every constituency north of the Border and hoping to increase its share of the vote.

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