PROFESSOR John Curtice has given his insight into what the next General Election could see in Scotland after a raft of conflicting polls predicted anything from a Labour win to an SNP landslide.

It comes after two Scottish polls separately suggested that the SNP had a 10-point lead over Labour, or that Labour had a two-point lead over the SNP. Over the past fortnight, varying seat projections have suggested between 48 and 19 seats for the SNP and seven and 28 seats for Labour.

Curtice told the Sunday National that the disparate results suggested a key group of Yes supporters would prove “crucial” in deciding which party wins north of the Border.

READ MORE: Support for independence at 54 per cent, new poll finds

The president of the British Polling Council said this was because Labour had benefitted significantly from a UK-wide drop in Tory support, pushing them to around the 30% mark. As such, small movements to Keir Starmer’s party from the SNP’s 2019 voting base could build on that and give Labour the edge they need.

Asked which groups of voters could prove critical at the next General Election, Curtice said: “In particular it’s 2019 SNP voters – most of whom are Yes voters – and what proportion of them is going to Labour. This is where the crucial battleground is.

“It's clear from the polling it's only a minority, but the size of that minority differs between the polls and the size of that minority is crucial, particularly also given that the relationship between seats and votes for Labour and the SNP is very, very elastic.

“It doesn't take very much in the way of movements in one direction or the other to make quite a noticeable difference in terms of the number of seats each party might get in Westminster.”

The National: A full House of Commons, file picture 2017

The University of Strathclyde professor said that the number of Yes supporters who say they will back the SNP in parliamentary elections has declined significantly since 2021.

“Whereas at the time of the Hollywood election, you were looking at about 85 to 90% of current Yes supporters saying they'd vote for the SNP, it's now down to not much more than 70,” he said.

But while these 15-20% of 2019 SNP voters will prove key in the next General Election, Curtice added: “Nothing is happening to support for independence. It's still running at around 48%. That has not changed.”

The polling guru went on: “If indeed it is true that the SNP currently have a narrow lead, let's say of around three points, we will get polls just as a result of sampling variation that will say, ‘oh, it's about eight points’ and equally we will get other ones that will say ‘oh no, no, they’re neck and neck’, or even that Labour are slightly ahead.

“Both those extremes are still potentially consistent with what on average is a three-point SNP lead.”

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Last week, the Stonehaven political consultancy said a “crucial” six per cent increase in national share of the vote for the Conservatives (who had polled at 26%) would be sufficient to deny Labour a majority.

Asked about this conclusion, Curtice (below) said: “What I will say to you straight away is the fact that a party has got a higher proportion of its voters saying they don't know what they're going to do, that is a symptom of a malaise. It's not necessarily a remedy.

“It's nearly always the case that a party that is losing ground will have more of its former supporters saying they don't know. It is true that they are more likely to switch back to their former party than anybody else. But it is also true that they are not guaranteed to do so.

The National: Polling guru Professor John Curtice gave his verdict on the SNP and Labour's hopes at the next

“Some of us remember throughout the whole of the 2010 to 2015 parliament, the LibDems constantly saying ‘we know we're doing badly in the polls, but it's alright. Most of our voters say they don't know what they're going to do. They'll come back’. They didn't.”

There are questions around when exactly the UK Government will call the next General Election, with some suggestions they may be eyeing up a vote in the spring.

Asked if the timing could make a difference to the results, Curtice said: “That's tantamount to asking: Do you think it's possible for the Tories to recover?

“Well, it's going to be very, very difficult. You know, since the autumn statement, the average Tory vote in the polls is up by 0.4 points, I think.”

Asked when he expected a General Election, Curtice said: “I've long been saying October, certainly the autumn.”