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Blog: Polling expert says SNP MPs will be hard to dislodge

According to a polling expert, replacing Nationalist MPs will be harder for the Conservatives than it seems Photo: PA

I've just interviewed professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University, Scotland's foremost polling expert.

He points out that the fact most of the SNP MPs elected in 2015 had substantial majorities will make them hard to dislodge.

That makes the task of the Tories and the Liberal Democrats in replacing Nationalist MPs much harder than it seems.

Nonetheless the Conservatives and the Lib Dems at Hoolyrood have a spring in their step as they see possible gains in June at the SNP's expense.

None of the party's spokespeople or politicians is putting a figure on it, but they hope between them that they might at least take 10 SNP seats, with most going to the Tories.

That may sound unrealistic but don't forget the Conservatives won seven first-past-the-post elected seats in the Holyrood election in 2016.

Now, the Westminster seats are not on the same boundaries, but there are some similarities, and this gives the Tories hope.

That and the fact that they are sure they have tapped into the anti-indyref2 vote in Scotland with, as they see it, Labour failing to be seen as 'proper' Unionists.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale Credit: PA

Labour is also talking up its chances of ousting SNP MPs, but Kezia Dugdale's party has a battle on its hands to retain its one MP, Ian Murray in Edinburgh south.

Ms Dugdale would regard this as far too pessimistic but polls suggest Labour is in the doldrums, though if it can present itself as Unionist and left-of-centre, it will stand a better chance.

For the SNP, the party says it is on good shape and dismisses the claims by the other parties as wildly optimistic.

The Nationalists say that their message that they will "stand up for Scotland", as Nicola Sturgeon put it, and oppose what they claim is a hard Brexit will allow them to retain their seats.

As for the second independence referendum the SNP say simply that they already have a mandate for that - from the last Holyrood elections. And they point out indyref2 it is now the will of the Scottish parliament, thanks to support for it from the Scottish Greens.

What we are likely to see in this election is the SNP talking about 'right-wing Tories' and 'hard Brexit' while the main opposition parties talk about the threat, as they see it, of independence.

The fate of the only recently elected SNP MPs will depend on who can win what some might see as this dialogue of the deaf.

Read Peter MacMahon's instant analysis of Theresa May's possible snap general election announcement:

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