Labour now holds 10pt lead over SNP in Scotland

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
May 20, 2024, 2:00 PM GMT+0

John Swinney divides Scots as he becomes first minister

Following the tumultuous recent weeks in Scottish politics – which saw first minister Humza Yousaf step down ahead of a confidence vote following the end of the SNP-Green power-sharing agreement – Labour have now taken a commanding 10 point lead in Westminster voting intention north of the border.

In polling conducted from 13-17 May, Labour’s vote share now stands at 39%, up five points from our previous poll in late April, shortly prior to Yousaf’s resignation. The SNP now stand on 29% (-4), with the Labour and SNP vote shares being respectively their highest and lowest since the 2014 independence referendum.

Elsewhere, the Conservatives are on 12% (-2), the Lib Dems on 8% (no change), the Greens on 7% (+3) and Reform UK on 4% (-1).

When it comes to Holyrood elections, voting intention continues to be tight. For the constituency vote Labour and the SNP are neck and neck on 35% and 34% respectively, while the regional vote sees Labour on 32% to the SNP’s 28%.

Scots divided on John Swinney as he takes the reins

New first minister John Swinney has seen a significant improvement in his favourability ratings since the April poll, although he ultimately proves divisive rather than popular. One in three Scots (35%) have a favourable view of the new national leader, up ten points, while 38% have a negative opinion (-2), giving him a net favourability rating of -3.

This shift has come largely from the “don’t know” category, with Scots nine points less likely to have a view of Swinney now (26%) than they were last month.

The Scottish public are similarly divided in their expectations of the new FM: 35% think he will do a good job, while 31% think he will do a bad one.

While Scots tend to expect Swinney to do a better job than predecessor Humza Yousaf (43%, only 9% think he will do worse), they are split on how he will compare to Sturgeon: 21% think he will do better, 22% worse, and 41% about the same.

Scots lack confidence in SNP to tackle key issues facing the nation

With the SNP having governed Scotland since 2007, Swinney has work to do in terms of convincing the population that the party is still equipped to make the right calls on the big issues.

Most Scots (58-62%) say they have little to no confidence in the SNP to make the right decisions on the economy, health service, schools, police and climate change. Only 28-34% say they have confidence, although this includes only just 5-7% who have “a lot” of confidence.

Independence voting intention

Independence voting intention remains effectively unchanged since April, with the figures a repeat of the 2014 result: 55% would vote to stay in the UK (+1 from three weeks ago) and 45% would vote to leave (-1).

Scots are currently divided on whether there should be an independence referendum in the next five years: 43% say there should, while 43% think there should not.

See the full results here

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Photo: Getty