LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's opposition Labour Party could suffer a wipe-out in Scotland in a UK-wide parliamentary election in May, scuppering its overall chances of supplanting Prime Minister David Cameron's Conservatives, a poll suggested on Friday.
The poll is not the first to suggest that Labour is in trouble in what for decades was a traditional stronghold but comes just two weeks after it replaced the leader of its Scottish chapter and underlines the scale of the challenge it faces to turn the party's fortunes around.
The Guardian/ICM online poll suggested Labour would get just 26 percent of the vote, down from 42 percent in 2010, while the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) is on course to capture 43 percent of the vote, up from just 20 percent last time.
That could see the SNP win 45 of Scotland's 59 UK-wide seats in the British parliament, up from just six seats, with Labour scraping only 10 seats, down from 41.
The SNP lost a historic independence referendum in September by 55 to 45 percent but has since staged a strong comeback and could now become a serious player in the politics of the United Kingdom, a political construct it wants to destroy.
“We are prospectively looking at the collapse of citadels that have always been Labour since the 1920s," Professor John Curtice, a polling expert from Strathclyde University, told the Guardian newspaper.
"It is becoming clear that the independence referendum has reset all the dials."
Earlier this month, Labour chose former cabinet minister Jim Murphy as its leader in Scotland, handing him the tricky task of trying to hold on to the seats the party needs to win a British national election due in May.
The poll surveyed a weighted online sample of 1,004 Scottish adults.
Reporting by Andrew Osborn; Editing by Andrew Roche