Wednesday, March 8, 2023

The new Redfield & Wilton poll is a big wake-up call for SNP members - they simply cannot afford the luxury of choosing a leader as unpopular as Humza Yousaf

The new full-scale Scottish poll from Redfield & Wilton contains numbers directly relating to the SNP leadership election, which continue with the very familiar pattern of showing that Kate Forbes is the public's preferred choice as First Minister.  I'll come to that in a moment, but first of all let's have a look at the Holyrood numbers from the poll, because although they're far from a disaster, they are perhaps a cause for some concern if SNP members choose the wrong leader this month.

Redfield & Wilton poll (2nd - 5th March 2023):

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 40% 
Labour 29%
Conservatives 20% 
Liberal Democrats 7% 
Greens 2%
Reform UK 2% 

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

SNP 29%
Labour 26%
Conservatives 20%
Liberal Democrats 11%
Greens 10%
Reform UK 1%

Incidentally, ignore the apocalyptic-looking percentage changes you may have seen listed on social media, because they're measured from the baseline of the 2021 Holyrood election (since when Labour have recovered quite a bit) rather than any recent Redfield & Wilton poll.  

The most eye-catching part of the above numbers is an SNP lead of only three points on the regional list, but I'm actually not overly worried about that, because we've seen results like it before.  List results in polls are often less reliable than constituency results, and I suspect the way the question is posed has a lot to do with that.

However, an SNP constituency vote of 40% is on the low side by normal standards, as is an 11-point lead over Labour.  We can only speculate as to what's going on here, and before anyone asks, it's got nothing to do with the "yellow on yellow action" in last night's STV debate, because the poll fieldwork was completed before that.  It could simply be the uncertainty caused by a leadership vacancy, it could be that people had faith in Nicola Sturgeon and that advantage for the SNP has now been lost, or it could be that the media presenting Humza Yousaf as the frontrunner means that the drag effect we expect to kick in if Yousaf becomes leader has already started.  Whether or not the latter is the case, one thing is for sure - the SNP simply cannot afford to throw a leader as unpopular as Yousaf into the current mix.  If you think things can't get any worse, you could be in for a very nasty shock.

Once again, this poll confirms the public's disdain for Yousaf.  The preferences for leader show that, as in all previous polls from all firms, Kate Forbes is the public's clear choice.

Preferences for next First Minister:

Kate Forbes: 25%
Humza Yousaf: 18%
Ash Regan: 14%

Now, in a sense that may not look too bad for Yousaf - it's a significant lead for Forbes but not an enormous one (although, on the flip side, the Yousaf campaign will be alarmed to see how close they are to slipping into third place behind Ash Regan).  However, as ever, this is only half the story, because it only shows positive preferences.  The much more damning figures for Yousaf are always the net approval ratings, in which the number of people who don't rate him are subtracted from the number of people who do.  On that measure, Kate Forbes once again has a commanding advantage.

Net approval ratings (on question of whether respondents would support or oppose each candidate becoming First Minister):

Kate Forbes: +6
Ash Regan: -7
Humza Yousaf: -10

The Labour leader Anas Sarwar has a rating of +4 in this poll (on a question with a different wording), which is a drop from the previous poll, but nevertheless there's not much doubt that he remains more popular than Yousaf.  Approval ratings are often highly predictive of election results, so I'm afraid the message to SNP members must be a stark one: if you don't want to risk seeing Labour in an outright lead in Scottish polls before this year is out, you simply cannot afford to elect the unpopular Yousaf as your leader.

Lastly, I must just note a touch of amateurishness on the part of Redfield & Wilton - they've somehow managed in their data tables to misspell the names of both Humza Yousaf and Alister Jack, which I suspect means the wrong spelling was also used when respondents were questioned.

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  1. Who's been asked about the leadership candidates here?
    I'm always wary of approval ratings from across the political spectrum. I'm sure NS benefited from approving Unionists in some polls who were very happy with her repeatedly squandering gilt edged chances for indy.
    Similarly, Johnson was obviously a dream PM for SNP voters.

    1. "I'm sure NS benefited from approving Unionists in some polls"

      I'm afraid you're well wide of the mark there. Nicola Sturgeon's good ratings came overwhelmingly from SNP / independence supporters. She was a Marmite figure who many unionist voters came to loathe.

  2. It could also be due to people getting sick of the SNP taking the piss out of them. I know I am.

  3. To me, the writing is on the wall for the SNP. If they are no longer capable of offering a prospective for independence, then what use are they? After 15 years they are tired out, so for an increasing number of people, maybe it's time to give Labour a shot. From what I can see, Kate Forbes is the only chance they have to reenergise the party - but only if she is willing to put independence and the cost of living crisis front and centre - and to challenge the current constitutional settlement.

    1. Even in the miraculous case we did get a vote on independence anytime soon, I no longer see Scotland voting for independence this side of a Labour government. Been more than a few murmurings of late about giving Labour a shot. The only way people are going to see past the promise of Labour implementing fundamental change is either a short term, significant Tory resurgence in England (unlikely) or for Labour to take power 2024, and squander it, as they always do. Not ideal by any means.

      But it's of the SNP's own making. There was ample opportunity over the past 7 years. Now I sense we're in an unfortunate waiting game for the threat of an incoming Tory government and a Labour party that failed to deliver to refocus voters' (and SNP) minds.

  4. I feel there's a general feeling the SNP are running out of steam.
    Can only go by my peer group but they're not as popular as they used to be. No longer united and the media SNP bad does eventually have an attritional effect.

  5. Thicko Hamish100 is going to the hustings at my old university on Saturday. Just as well the camera isn't trained on the audience as you might see Hamish wandering around looking bewildered and shouting Regan is Alba - Salmond is bad - James Kelly is a disgrace - long live Nicola - before he is escorted off the premises. That's assuming he can find the place.

    1. University? a porter I presume

    2. As ever the WGD numpty presumes wrong - predictable comment - must do better. Anyway what is wrong with being a porter - pompous prick.

    3. Haha, best retort I've seen in a good while, IfS. Thanks for the chuckle!

    4. Stravaiger & IFS ... The Chuckle Brothers.

  6. Sturgeon on the telly boasting about winning 8 elections in 8 years as leader but she did it by promising a referendum that she had no intention of delivering and finished off her career as FM by closing all the doors for someone else to hold a referendum in the future. The Britnats best friend. A fraud. A Toom Tabard.
    Her husband raised over £600k to be ring fenced for a referendum that they never intended to have.
    They are pulling out all the stops and breaking their own rules to get Yousaf elected so they can retire to touring the world as Yousaf's global ambassador.

  7. Humza is a competent politician who has had to deal with a difficult situation in the NHS. Most of the causes of that are not of his making,However,it does not make sense to elect a leader that is more unpopular than the Labour leader.That is just asking for trouble.Kate Forbes has abetter public approval rating and a better grasp of the economy.For that reason I hope that she will become leader and First Minister,although I fear that she might not.By contrast it is obvious that the mainstream media fear that she might be chose by the SNP membership

  8. Unpopularity aside, the SNP can't afford a leader like Humza for the very good reason that Forbes's broadside on him last night would have been coming from political opponents regardless. Members can get snippy about how aggressive her attacks were all they want. It was coming from her now, or it was coming from the Unionists once he's in office. And now she's let the cat out of the bag, can you imagine the glee from Sarwar, Dross, Baillie et al in being able to point to the fact the SNP's own finance minister has no faith in Humza's abilities?

    High stakes gambit from Forbes. Because if she doesn't win, it'll be wonderful fodder for the Unionist parties and media. But she was right to do so, if it meant precluding the possibility of a Humza leadership.

    SNP members need to remember the wood and not focus on the trees. Much harder for unionist opponents to lay those claims of incompetence at Forbes's door now she's been so active in railing against it. That should at least buy her a grace period that Humza would be unlikely to have.

  9. Where has this idea that Forbes is some sort of economic expert come from. Her degree is in History. She is an accountant. Yousaf has a degree in politics.

    1. Well, I've got a degree in Politics (Joint Honours with English Literature), but I've never claimed it qualified me to run the NHS.

    2. I wonder what Matt Hancock has a degree in ?

  10. I have watched all of the hustings so far and it is clear that Kate Forbes has correctly identified the economy as the main battleground.As Finance Minister she is well placed to compare the economic potential of independence with devolution and put the abstract concept of the constitution into a meaningful vision of things important to people,such as eradication of poverty,health care,education,job creation,cost of living
    etc).These are all related to the economy.

  11. Basically if HY wins I think we are handing the keys to Bute House on a plate to Anus Sarwar.The Redfield Wilton poll also highlighted that transgenderism is the biggest policy failure of the SG .To me it's totally bonkers to elect the most unpopular candidate who is advocating getting into a court fight which we will lose over a policy that the majority of Scots oppose
    KF seems to be popular with the public .I just think the Daily Mail will have difficulty monstering her .
    A nice polite Highland lass who goes to church on a Sunday.
    I think she was being honest and frank with her attack on HY last night .Saying stuff that needed to be said .It's a brave strategy but I think there is a shy KF vote out there people are scared to say they support KF in case they are called a bigot homophobe etc .I Notice that only 46 Parliamentarians out of 106 have endorsed HY and 43 have yet to declare .Signs maybe of a silent KF vote

  12. Kezia Dugdale, Director of the John Smith Centre for Public Service uses her weekly column in The Courier to give Humza Yousaf the MI5 stamp of approval. Nuff said.

  13. I don't think any of them have the star dust that's needed

    Rubbishing each other doesn't promote the SNP/independence to the wider public

    Whoever wins now will lead a fractious party

    Forbes comes across as a bright wee lassie but not a leader

    Yousaf presents ok but is an old face that won't move the dial

    Regan has too many vipers waiting to bring her down from within

    I also agree the race should have been at least a week or two longer with a longer starting time to allow candidates to collect their thoughts.

  14. The basic problem with the SNP is that so many people are more outraged by the GRR bill being binned by Westminster than the London court banning an independence referendum in Scotland. Yousaf represents those outraged by the Westminster block on making it easier for men to dress up as women. This leadership election therefore represents the future of the SNP. A party of useless weirdos like the Greens or a proper party of independence.

    I have previously posted that no Leader serious about independence would have touched this GRR subject matter as it would divide the yes movement, is against the majority of the public and Westminster would probably block it therefore making it a waste of time unless you want to destroy any hope of independence. So here we are - Sturgeon's legacy.

    1. The alternative to the SNP is? Be serious now.

    2. Well Mhairi Black SNP MP Westminster Deputy Leader seems to think the SNP will split depending on the result of the leadership election. Try asking her.

  15. I have been posting on SGP for years that Sturgeon should stop producing the GERS Britnat propaganda report. So far not one of the leadership candidates has mentioned GERS to my knowledge.
    More annoying is the current article by the big dug Kavanagh. NOW he says something should be done about GERS. He sucked up to the Sturgeon gang so much he couldn't bring himself to say that years ago in case he upset the WGD numpties or even worse got kicked off his National gig. Even now he cannot say just don't produce the GERS report.
    Kavanagh says:- " Whoever wins the SNP leadership contest should Commission Professor Doyle to do a similar study for Scotland and to publish this annually when the GERS figures are published. We must stop allowing the British state to hide behind its lies and deceit."

    Yes we must but you couldn't bring yourself to criticise Sturgeon for doing nothing about GERS for 8 years but hey she had a gender balanced cabinet.

    What a waste the Sturgeon years have been and people like Kavanagh facilitated this.

  16. "Kate Forbes is the most popular SNP leadership candidate with the Scottish public, a new poll has found.

    The poll, carried out by Ipsos Scotland for Channel 4 News, found almost one in three respondents (32 per cent) placed Ms Forbes as the best First Minister of the three hopefuls.

    Meanwhile, 24 per cent chose Humza Yousaf and 8 per cent picked Ash Regan, with a clear pattern by age, as younger people tend to favour Mr Yousaf and over 55s lean towards Ms Forbes."

  17. Not sure an economically right wing social conservative is best placed to maintain the current SNP voting bloc.