SNP hit post-referendum Holyrood vote lows

April 20, 2023, 7:47 PM GMT+0

New first minister Humza Yousaf begins his time in office with negative ratings

YouGov’s first voting intention polls since Humza Yousaf became first minister show the SNP at post-referendum lows in the Holyrood vote.

The SNP’s constituency vote share has dropped five points since March to 38%, the joint-lowest since the independence referendum in 2014. As recently as December the SNP were on 50% in constituency voting intention.

Labour’s constituency vote share of 30% (up 4pts) is the highest it has achieved since immediately prior to the 2014 vote. The Conservatives take 16% of the vote and the Lib Dems 10%.

The regional vote share tells a similar story – the SNP’s five-point dip to 30% puts the party on the lowest share of the vote it has held since just before the referendum, and represents a 10-point drop since late 2022. Labour’s 26% is similar to other polls from this year, although still represents a significant turnaround for the party from their low point of 11% in mid-2019.

Westminster voting intention has seen less of an impact, with results for all parties in the margin of error to the previous poll in March. The SNP take 37% of the vote (from 39% before), while Labour are on 28% (-1) and the Tories 17% (+1).

Support for Scottish independence likewise remains the same as it was in last month’s poll, with 46% saying they would vote Yes and 54% No.

Humza Yousaf begins his tenure with negative ratings

While Humza Yousaf is only just getting his feet under the table, reviews of his premiership to date are negative. Only 19% of Scots believe he is doing well, compared to 44% who say he is doing badly. One in three Scots (36%) are currently unsure how well they think the new first minister is doing.

Among 2019 SNP voters, Yousaf’s ratings are relatively lukewarm. One in three (32%) believe he is doing a good job, but 28% say he is doing a bad one. Four in ten (40%) answered “don’t know”.

There is also a general expectation that Yousaf will not be able to live up to his predecessor, Nicola Sturgeon. Four in ten (41%) believe he will do a worse job, compared to 35% who think he will perform similarly and only 9% who expect him to be better.

Among 2019 SNP voters, 46% expect Yousaf to be worse than Sturgeon, compared to 36% who think they will be comparable and 6% who say better.

Following from a bad-tempered leadership election, and with police investigations into key party figures, it is perhaps unsurprising to see that half of Scots (53%) see the SNP as a divided party, compared to 29% who see it as a united one. In mid-February, Scots had seen the parts as more united than divided by 45% to 33%.

The police investigation is being followed closely by approaching half of Scots (46%). With Nicola Sturgeon’s husband Peter Murrell embroiled in the affair, Labour and Conservative politicians have called for the former first minister to be suspended from the party while the investigation is conducted.

By 43% to 31%, Scots agree that Nicola Sturgeon should be suspended from the SNP for the time being, although as ever attitudes on the subject are partisan. Among SNP voters themselves, a majority (56%) say she should not be suspended, compared to 19% who think that she should.