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by Louise Wilson
07 February 2023
Half of voters support UK Government block on gender bill

The section 35 order blocking the bill was made by Alister Jack last month

Half of voters support UK Government block on gender bill

Half of voters support the UK Government’s decision to block Scotland’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, a new poll has found.

The Ipsos survey also found Nicola Sturgeon’s approval ratings have dropped from previous levels, though she remains more popular among Scots than other party leaders.

Meanwhile, voters also believe the Scottish Government has done a bad job in a range of policy areas since the 2021, including on the NHS, living standards, the economy and education.

Emily Gray, managing director of Ipsos in Scotland said: “These findings highlight the choppy waters that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP find themselves in. While Nicola Sturgeon remains the most popular of the political leaders we asked about, her personal ratings have fallen.”

The poll, conducted last week, found 43 per cent of people have a favourable opinion of the First Minister, while the same proportion have an unfavourable opinion, giving her a neutral net score.

She is just ahead of Keir Starmer, who has a favourability rating of -1 (though nearly a third of voters say they have neither a favourable or unfavourable opinion of the Labour leader), and Anas Sarwar, who is one -4.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak and Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross remain deeply unpopular, scoring favourability ratings of -42 and -41, respectively.

On Scottish Government performance, more than half of people (53 per cent) think it is doing a bad job on the NHS.

Just less than half (47 per cent) think it is doing a bad job with the economy.

Scots are broadly pessimistic about the country’s future, with 51 per cent saying things are heading in the wrong direction and 27 per cent saying it is going in the right direction.

The polling firm also sought views on the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which was blocked from becoming law last month after Scottish Secretary Alister Jack imposed a section 35 order.

Exactly 50 per cent agreed the UK Government should have intervened while a third said it should not have.

More men than women supported the move and older generations were more likely to support it than the younger generations.

SNP voters were broadly unhappy with the move, with 52 per cent saying the UK Government should not have prevented the bill become law – though 31 per cent agreed it should have.

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