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Can Scotland help Labour form Britain’s next government?

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“I DON’T KNOW—it’s all mince,” (Scottish slang for rubbish) says a retired cleaner in Rutherglen, when asked how she would vote in an upcoming by-election. The last time voters in that suburb south of Glasgow went to the polls she backed the Scottish National Party (snp); this time she might plump for Labour. Her ambivalence, apparently shared by many former snp voters, reflects the party’s dramatic decline. Since the beginning of the year, and in particular following the arrest in June of Nicola Sturgeon, the former first minister and the most powerful advocate of the independence dream that brought the snp to power, the party has slipped in the polls in a once unimaginable way.

That presents an opportunity for the Labour Party, which once held sway north of the border. In 2010 it had 41 of Scotland’s current 59 seats in Westminster. After the independence referendum in 2014, Labour haemorrhaged support. In 2019 it was all but wiped out, managing to hold just one seat. It now hopes for a revival that could help it win a general election that must be held no later than January 2025.

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