Scottish Labour's polling performance has improved under new leader Johann Lamont. Should we brace ourselves for a red recovery north of the border?
For 18 months Scottish Labour was in steep decline.
Our polling showed support for the party falling from 41% in November 2010 to 23% in January 2012, the lowest figures we have ever polled for the party.
However, a recently improved polling performance and increased profile of new leader Johann Lamont suggest Labour is on the up.
So, are we seeing the green shoots of a red revival?
Our June Scottish Public Opinion Monitor placed Labour on 32% among voters in Scotland, an increase of nine points since January, reflecting the party’s relative success in May’s local council elections.
Support has increased among both men and women and across all age groups, while the party also appears to be reconnecting with voters in more deprived communities, where support has increased by around 15 percentage points since January.
In addition, Johann Lamont appears to be making progress since her election as leader in December 2011.
Satisfaction in her performance has risen by 11 points since January to 38%.
Her net satisfaction rating (the proportion of those who are satisfied minus the proportion of those who are dissatisfied) is currently +9%, an increase of 15 points since January, and considerably better than that of her predecessor Iain Gray.
These results will be encouraging for Labour, but need to be placed in perspective.
The SNP remain dominant at Holyrood, with just under half of voters in Scotland favouring the nationalists.
Labour hasn't yet been able to make significant inroads into the SNP support base, which remains at the same level that delivered last year’s majority, and needs to focus on winning over voters who backed the SNP at last year’s election.
Despite Labour’s recent advances, the SNP still hold considerable leads among men, younger voters and those in full-time employment.
Looking forward, a key group for Labour will be voters who favour greater powers for the Scottish Parliament, but fall short of supporting outright independence.
Our polling has consistently shown that a majority of Scots favour some form of constitutional change and Labour may need to nuance its approach to the independence debate if it is to avoid appearing to be the party of the status quo, a position that may put off some voters from returning.
In addition, Johann Lamont still has a fight on her hands if she is to match the ratings enjoyed by the first minister.
Despite a recent dip in satisfaction, Salmond remains the most popular leader of all the parties in Scotland, and indeed the UK.
The Labour leader has won many plaudits for her performances in the Holyrood chamber, particularly during first minister’s questions, but also needs to continue to increase her profile among voters.
Our poll found that a third of voters don’t know enough about Johann Lamont to rate her performance.
The Labour leader does have a higher profile than Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie, who were both elected leaders of the respective parties some months prior to Lamont.
Her challenge will be to maintain the momentum she has built up over the last few months.
With the independence debate likely to dominate the agenda for the next two years, and the ‘No’ campaign being led by high profile figures such as Alistair Darling, this may prove difficult.
The early indicators of a recovery are there, but significant obstacles clearly remain if Labour’s fledgling recovery is to continue.
This article was first published for Total Politics.