The SNP faces a tough electoral challenge from a Labour Party which has its “mojo” back, Pete Wishart has said.
The veteran SNP MP said there will be battlegrounds between his party and Labour in the west of Scotland at the next election.
Mr Wishart is chairman of the Scottish Affairs Committee and has been an MP since 2001. He stepped down from the party’s frontbench team when Stephen Flynn became its Westminster leader.
During a visit to Edinburgh this week, he told the PA news agency he is looking forward to running in the next general election, saying: “After 23 years I’m just getting warmed up.”
The Perth and North Perthshire MP said Sir Keir Starmer’s recent comments about Margaret Thatcher had been a “terrible mistake” and show Labour is not chasing Scottish votes.
However he conceded Labour has improved since becoming “practically unelectable” under Jeremy Corbyn.
Looking ahead to the election expected next year, Mr Wishart said: “This time around the challenge is more from Labour.
“I think it’s colleagues who’ve got a Labour-facing constituency where the challenge mainly comes from.
“They’re more concerned and anxious than I am.”
However he said recent opinion polls have been contradictory on how well the SNP is set to do, and he insisted there is “all to play for” north of the border.
He said: “Whatever you think about Labour and what Keir Starmer’s doing, they’re confident, they’ve got a bit of their mojo back.
“They’ve got a sense of what they want to achieve.”
Mr Wishart said the SNP’s most difficult contests will be in west central Scotland, though he suggested voters do not know what Labour stands for.
Mr Wishart said: “I’m not entirely sure in Scotland people have got a sense of what Labour is about now.
“They’re looking at a party that’s better led, better organised, better structure – but I don’t think they know exactly what the general offer is or what’s in it for them.
“But it’s going to be a tough old election, particularly in these battleground seats.
“The battleground seats will be pretty much in west central Scotland.”
Mr Wishart said the SNP’s messaging will see the party attempting to link the cost-of-living crisis with Scottish independence – saying it is a “cost-of-Westminster crisis”.
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