06/11/2008

Labour Faces SNP 'Favourites' In Scottish By-Election

Gordon Brown's handling of the international financial crisis is set to face its first litmus test today, as voters in the Scottish constituency of Glenrothes take to the polls for a parliamentary by-election.

The election battleground is right next door to the Prime Minister's own seat of Kirkcaldy, and Labour backers will be hoping to avert a repeat of July's Glasgow East by-election, when the Tories claimed victory.

Since then, Mr Brown has began to narrow his lag in the approval polls, closing the gap between Labour and the Conservatives by around 11-points in the last few months.

The Tories are still in front with a 9-point lead, however, the Prime Minister's handling of the ongoing credit crisis has helped to bolster his public support.
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Today's election win is touted to go to the Scottish National Part, with bookmaker William Hill claiming 'one-way traffic' for the SNP, despite Labour making a short-lived fight for the joint-favourite position in the last number of days.

Labour's chances of winning have been downplayed, with one insider suggesting the gap has been closing, but "not fast enough".

Fifty-nine year old Lindsay Roy is standing for Labour, whose candidate - the late John MacDougall - won the seat in 2005 with 19,395 votes.

The SNP's contingent is Peter Grant, the incumbent leader of Fife Council. The Scottish National Party picked up 8,731 votes three years ago.

Environmental campaigner Maurice Golden is standing for the Conservatives, who won 2,651 votes in the last election.

A total of eight candidates are in the running for the MP seat.

Polls opened at 7am this morning and will close at 10pm.

Whatever the result, it is unlikely to prompt a general election, but it could boost David Cameron's Conservatives Party's call for change at the top.

(PR/JM)

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