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by Kirsteen Paterson
23 August 2023
Next election on a ‘knife-edge’ as support for SNP falls alongside poor ratings for Humza Yousaf

Humza Yousaf and SNP byelection candidate Katy Loudon campaigning in Blantyre

Next election on a ‘knife-edge’ as support for SNP falls alongside poor ratings for Humza Yousaf

Support for the SNP has fallen amid poor popularity ratings for First Minister Humza Yousaf, according to a new poll.

Analysing the poll, Sir John Curtice said Liz Truss had been a "disaster" for the SNP because she made a Labour government look possible.

The comments come as the polling puts support for Scottish Labour at its highest level since 2014.

Anas Sarwar's party is just two points behind Humza Yousaf's SNP on Westminster voting intention, according to findings by Survation.

The findings suggest Labour and the SNP could end up neck-and-neck on Scottish seats at next year's general election, with each winning 24, Curtice said.

That would be a significant loss for the SNP, but would be Labour's best results in Scotland since 2010.

The poll is further evidence of the "decoupling" of support for independence and the SNP, Curtice said, and "pretty much every seat in Scotland will be a marginal seat".

It put support for independence at 48 per cent. However, only 37 per cent of respondents intended to vote SNP at the next general election, with Labour on 35 points. Only 17 per cent said they intend to vote for the Scottish Conservatives and six per cent said they would vote Lib Dem. Other parties had five per cent of support.

And the poll is bad news for Yousaf as Sarwar came out as the more popular politician. While the first minister scored an approval rating of -23, Sarwar's score was -3.

Meanwhile, 40 per cent of people said they oppose the Bute House Agreement between the Greens and the SNP at Holyrood, including almost one quarter of those who supported the SNP at the snap 2019 general election.

Curtice said the leadership election following Nicola Sturgeon's resignation as SNP figurehead had damaged that party, with Yousaf having "apparent difficulty in making a favourable impression on the Scottish public", and current debate within the SNP about the merits of the Bute House Agreement have affected public opinion.

True North advisor Dr Eilidh Whiteford, a former SNP MP, said the general election in Scotland is "on a knife edge".

Meanwhile, ex-Scottish Labour advisor Andrew Liddle, also of True North, said the poll "provides further evidence that the Scottish Labour Party is finally recovering Scotland after more than a decade in the wilderness", with the upcoming Rutherglen and Hamilton West byelection set to be a key test.

Curtice called that a "must-win" for UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer.

He said Truss' short-lived premiership had been "the biggest disaster for the SNP" because it "helped the Scottish Labour party" by making it "look for the first time like the prospect of a minority Labour government" was possible. 

He went on: "This is something over which Humza Yousaf has absolutely no control and can do nothing about."

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