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by Kirsteen Paterson
01 November 2023
SNP support moving to Labour ahead of general election, study finds

First Minister Humza Yousaf and Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar chat at the Scottish Parliament. Image: SST/Alamy

SNP support moving to Labour ahead of general election, study finds

More Scots expect to vote Labour at the general election than SNP, a study has found.

Just 55 per cent of those who voted SNP at the last Westminster vote said they would do so again.

For the Conservatives, the figure was 48 per cent, with Labour picking up swing voters from these parties and the Lib Dems, according to the latest publication by the Scottish Election Study (SES).

Its Scottish Opinion Monitor survey found two-thirds of Scots expect Labour to defeat the Conservatives when the UK goes to the polls.

A total of 38 per cent of respondents said they will vote Labour, versus 32 per cent for the SNP when undecided respondents are removed.

The SES said this is "partially due to the weakening connection between support for Scottish independence and support for the SNP".

Only 53 per cent of those who said they would vote Yes in a second independence referendum said they would also vote SNP. SES said: "This represents a large decline from previous Westminster and Holyrood elections when this number regularly exceeded 80 per cent, according to past SES data."

Around 1200 adults were surveyed between October 20-25. 

As many as 66 per cent of voting-age adults in Scotland expect Labour to beat the Conservatives at the forthcoming general election in 2024/25, the survey found, with just 12 per cent of the opinion that the Tories will triumph and another 22 per cent unsure.

Labour are picking up 18 per cent of those who voted Conservative in 2019, the study found, as well as 21 per cent of SNP voters and 38 per cent of Lib Dem voters. Three quarters of those who voted Labour in 2019 said they would back the party again.

However, the SNP maintains an edge over Labour in voting intention for the constituency ballot at the next Scottish Parliament election, leading by 35 per cent to 32 per cent when undecideds are reoved.

Anas Sarwar remains marginally more popular than Humza Yousaf with a mean rating of 4.3 to 4.0. For Douglas Ross, the score was 2.7.

Keir Starmer was also more popular than Rishi Sunak at 4.2 to 2.6

Only 23 per cent of Scots think the country is headed in the "right direction", with 43 per cent taking the opposite view.

Scottish voters are ready to punish the SNP and the Conservatives

Voters have become "increasingly pessimistic over the past year", SES said, and opinions of both devolved and UK government performance has declined.

The SNP-led Scottish Government was given a net rating of -20, while the score for the UK Government was -68.

SES researcher Dr Fraser McMillan commented: "The data reinforce the impression we've been getting for most of this year that Scottish voters are ready to punish the SNP and the Conservatives, with both parties having spent a long time in power at Holyrood and Westminster respectively. Labour are currently attracting voters from all the other major parties and picking up around 20 per cent of Yes supporters in Westminster vote intention. 

"The SNP's dominance over the last decade has been built on monopolising pro-indy Scots but they're finally seeing some of that support drift away."

Professor Ailsa Henderson, principal investigator for the Scottish Election Study, added: "There is an incredible amount of volatility in the results, with SNP support down among previous SNP voters and Yes supporters, but equivalent changes at the other end of the partisan spectrum affecting the Conservative Party. It also appears that voters are making different calculations for Westminster and Holyrood elections and the two are no longer moving in lock step. 

"What is less clear is whether the Westminster results are changing more because that election is closer – which might mean this is a sign of things to come – or whether it’s a return to two different political worlds."

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