General election 2017: Scotland's political leaders step up their campaigns

Local council election polling station

Following yesterday's council elections in North Ayrshire SNP Group Leader Marie Burns said: "We're pleased to get a strong showing for the SNP, with 11 of our candidates returned, and winning the popular vote".

"There is no doubt, given that the SNP are doing no more than treading water, they are potentially vulnerable to the Conservatives in these seats", he said.

She added that many Scots were angry that their Remain vote had been "assimilated" by the SNP and turned into a "proxy vote" for independence.

And this is where we'll be until June 8th and most likely for some time after that, two entrenched camps - unionist and nationalist - shouting at one another about the constitution. On average the party's share of the vote has been up ten points on 2012 in such contests.

Lib Dem leader Tim Farron brought his campaign bus to Scotland on Monday and said the choice was between electing the SNP as "cheerleaders for independence" at Westminster or his party, which would oppose independence and a hard Brexit, and fight for cash for mental health and education.

Meanwhile polls have warned that Labour, which won a majority in four councils five years ago, could be facing "heavy losses".

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Should the results continue in this pattern, it may signal a dramatic upturn in fortune for the Conservatives in Scotland ahead of the general election on June 8, in no small part due to the influence of Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson - who has ruled herself out of running for Westminster office. In Paisley's Ferguslie Park, identified past year as having Scotland's greatest level of deprivation, the Tories chalked up a councillor.

That would mean a bigger majority for Theresa May but not necessarily the landslide some were expecting, said Prof Curtice, but he also cautioned against reading too much into the results.

"So we've seen a huge resurgence and there are people out there that want to see that fightback against the SNP and they know now that it's the Scottish Conservatives that are going to lead it". That won't be the case at a first past the post general election.

Over one in ten votes on Thursday were cast for independent candidates - in the Highlands and the Islands in particular, council elections are often still genuinely local rather than partisan battles.

Basing its calculations partly on "notional" results the BBC said the SNP were actually down by seven, but it didn't really matter: the SNP vote had held up, and held up well.

"If you're going to put a single issue at the centre of your own campaign, then you lose the election, then you're left with a bit of egg on your face and I think the Tories have egg on their face on that question". They've put up former Better Together boss Blair McDougall at the general election there in an effort to out-unionist the Conservative candidate. In contrast Labour are down by 23, with 39 councillors elected.

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