|Written by Chris Young|
Scottish politics took a brief step back in time this week as familiar faces from campaigns past intervened in what is becoming an ever more intriguing battle for Scotland’s votes.
On Tuesday, Sir John Major, the last Conservative Prime Minister to lead his party to electoral victory, evoked memories of his famous “72 hours to save the Union speech” from 1992, as he warned of the risks to the Union posed by a post-election Labour/SNP pact.
His intervention came as part of a concerted effort by the Conservatives to talk up the impact of the SNP’s involvement in a post-election UK government, a move some say is designed to win over floating voters in England in a bid to shore up the party’s (albeit slim) prospects of forming a majority government.
But for others, such as the Tory peer Lord (Michael) Forsyth – who described the strategy as “short-term and dangerous” - the move to talk up the SNP’s influence risks, in his view, inflaming the debate over Scotland’s constitutional future once again.
While joining the last Conservative Scottish Secretary in accusing Mr Cameron of playing “fast and loose” with the UK, Ed Miliband’s party were themselves deploying figures from days gone by.
Gordon Brown – the man widely credited with saving the Union in the dying days of the referendum – entered the campaign fray with a plea to 350,000 households across Scotland, calling on voters to reject the SNPs advances and restore Labour to its status as Scotland’s party of fairness and social justice.
Speaking in his former Kirkcaldy constituency on Thursday, he made arguably his highest profile intervention of the campaign so far, rounding on the Conservatives for “whipping up anti-Scottish feeling” and moving to rule out a Labour/SNP alliance.
For the SNP, the moves appear to have had little effect, as momentum continues to build behind the party in the lead up to May 7 and opinion polls continue to point towards unprecedented gains.
Lord Ashcroft’s follow-up poll of 8 key Scottish seats, last surveyed in February and YouGov latest survey of Scotland at the start of the week will make grim reading for Labour, Lib Dem and Conservative strategists, providing further evidence – if it were needed – of the scale of the SNP’s electoral advance.
Latest poll (Times/YouGov 16 – 20 April): SNP 49%, Lab 25%, Con 17%, Lib Dem 5%, Others 4%
By Chris Young, Public Affairs Account Manager - 3x1 Public Relations