Thursday, April 20, 2023

Heartening YouGov poll adds to weight of evidence that support for independence is Humza-proof - but leadership crisis deepens as SNP vote drops five points and Yousaf hits abysmal approval rating of minus 25

YouGov poll, 17th-20th April 2023:

Do you think Humza Yousaf is doing well or badly as First Minister?

Well: 19%
Badly: 44%

That gives Yousaf a dismal net approval rating of -25.  And his boasts during the leadership debates of being phenomenally popular with SNP voters have aged very badly as he barely even stays in positive territory (+4) with people who voted SNP in the 2019 general election.

To be blunt, the direct comparisons between Yousaf's net ratings among all respondents and those of other party leaders are deeply concerning.  He is way behind the Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar (-6), and also a little way behind the UK Labour leader Keir Starmer (-19), although there may be some consolation in the fact that Starmer is almost as unpopular as Yousaf is.  (Indeed, Starmer's ratings have very suddenly fallen off a cliff - he had a positive rating in the previous YouGov poll.) Incredibly, Yousaf is virtually level-pegging with the UK Tory leader Rishi Sunak (-27), an almost unprecedented situation for an SNP leader in modern times.  And although Yousaf does have an advantage over the Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross (-36), it's not an especially enormous one.

There's also grim news for the SNP's "Trendies" who have been lecturing the Alba Party for two years about how no party can expect to do anything but fail with a leader as unpopular as Alex Salmond.  As it turns out, there's very little to choose between how the public rate Mr Salmond and Mr Yousaf, with 34% saying Mr Yousaf will be a better First Minister than Mr Salmond, and 28% saying he will be worse than Mr Salmond.  That's a gap that barely even reaches the level of statistical significance.  Presumably the Trendies' conclusion will be unavoidable - if Mr Yousaf is no more popular than Mr Salmond, the SNP can be expected to fail very badly under his leadership.  

One really big surprise from the poll is that, so far at least, Nicola Sturgeon's reputation is astoundingly untouched by recent revelations, with 53% of respondents saying she was a good leader for Scotland (an increase of three points from the previous poll) and 31% saying she was a bad leader.  That underscores that the problem here is very definitely a Humza-specific problem, not a 'whoever happened to be carrying the can' problem.  Only 9% of respondents think Yousaf will be a better FM than Ms Sturgeon, with 41% saying he will be worse.

Should Scotland be an independent country?

Yes 46% (-)
No 54% (-)

This is the latest in a long string of polls from a variety of different firms suggesting the Yes vote has either held up or even increased slightly as the SNP vote falls - thus implying support for independence has become decoupled from support for the largest pro-independence party. With Don't Knows left in, the No lead has actually dropped since the last YouGov poll from eight points to six.  The SNP's troubles and the ongoing Humza leadership crisis have also failed to diminish the public's appetite for an independence referendum, with 44% wanting one within the next five years, and with only 42% opposed.

A clear majority of the public now feel that Scotland should not require permission from London to hold an independence referendum.  51% think no permission should be required, compared to 39% who take the opposite view.

Scottish Parliament constituency ballot:

SNP 38% (-5) 
Labour 30% (+4) 
Conservatives 16% (+1) 
Liberal Democrats 10% (+2) 
Greens 2% (-2)

Scottish Parliament regional list ballot:

SNP 30% (-5) 
Labour 26% (+1) 
Conservatives 17% (+1) 
Greens 12% (+1) 
Liberal Democrats 9% (+1)
Alba 2% (-)
Reform UK 2% (-1)

Seats projection (with changes from 2021 election): SNP 51 (-13), Labour 33 (+11), Conservatives 23 (-8), Greens 12 (+4), Liberal Democrats 10 (+6)

So Humza is on course to lose us the precious pro-independence majority at Holyrood, although admittedly it would be close.  The SNP and Greens in combination would have 63 seats, and unionist parties combined would have 66.

Scottish voting intentions for next UK general election:

SNP 37% (-2) 
Labour 28% (-1) 
Conservatives 17% (+1) 
Liberal Democrats 8% (+2) 
Greens 5% (-1) 
Reform UK 2% (-1) 

Seats projection (current boundaries, with changes from 2019 election): SNP 34 (-14), Labour 14 (+13), Conservatives 6 (-), Liberal Democrats 5 (+1)

First-past-the-post would just about rescue the pro-indy majority in this case, but the SNP's seat losses would still be heavy, with Anne McLaughlin, David Linden and Alison Thewliss among the high-profile casualties.

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  1. Unsurprisingly quite a lot of people, including many SNP voters, say “Don’t know” when asked about Humza. Time will tell how the undecided break.

    It’s a relief to see the Yes numbers holding up. Now, if only we could get the SNP cleaned up and use the talent that is mostly languishing outside the cabinet, we might just have half a chance of moving things back in our favour.

    1. Undecideds are no kind of alibi for approval ratings as poor as those. Only a minority of the sample are undecided, and there's no particular reason to think those people will react to Humza in a completely opposite way from everyone else.

    2. Absolutely agree with you James. I just meant that it’s so early into his reign that it’s not surprising a substantial number are undecided as to whether he’s doing a good job. Frankly it’s a bit too early to tell. For those who haven’t seen the numbers, 36% of all voters and 40% of SNP voters are undecided on the subject.

      In all likelihood they’ll break roughly the same way as those who’ve already formed an opinion, but who knows? If Humza can get a grip of the situation things might improve. That’s possibly the biggest if I’ve ever written mind you! Doing my best to be optimistic in these crazy times!

      I voted for Kate Forbes, but maybe this is the ideal scenario playing out. Humza leading while everything collapses, then Kate comes in a few months down the line and represents a fresh start.

  2. The good people have to leave the SNP. The brand is toxic, very hard to recover reputation. Instead we need a new national independence party. Bringing Alba and the rest together.

  3. NOBODY could be managing this SNP suicide pact any better than Humza at this time - it's a fkn self-made disaster; perhaps it's all innocent but the WOS guy highlighted it all a while back with the reasonable demand of asking where the £500K was. THEY (Mz S and her sycophants) thought it could be swept under a rug and Mz S can I'm sure cite plausible deniability and spousal privilege. CAN'T wait for this crap to end but the Brits won't let it end if they can keep it going.

    1. It really is nonsense to suggest no-one would be handling this situation any better than Humza. In fact, it's tempting to say that practically anyone would be handling it better, because he's been absolutely hapless. But the bigger problem is that he's the continuity leader at a time when only a fresh start was ever going to do the trick.

  4. In all fairness, Humza has been even worse than most of us expected. He seems to think he's auditioning for a chat show (badly).

  5. When this drama plays out ,unless someone has trousered money there is zilch chance of anyone being convicted of any offences . Question will however remain regarding transparency in the party .After a losing a clutch of seats to Labour in the Westminster election
    Time to ditch Humza and put in Katie Forbes and we will storm the Holyrood elections

  6. I agree Rocksie67

  7. Yousaf has trashed Nicola Sturgeon's legacy by abandoning the de facto referendum. I'm shocked to see him stab her in the back in that way.

    1. Well if there's one person who knows about stabbing your predecessor in the back it's Oor Nicla!!!


  8. As has been the case for years now the independence movement is crying out for strong, radical leadership.

  9. It's no surprise to dutiful readers of Wee Ginger Dug that Nicola should be so popular. Because the consensus is that the camper van should have been bigger. Much bigger.
    And as Skier says:

    "I love that the biggest political scandal in Scotland is that a party bought a two berth motorhome during covid for the purposes of campaigning. They used my money for this, and that of my friends and family. We are all content with the purchase.

    Only 7 people are unhappy out of 10’s of 1000’s who donated to the fund.

    This is the country for me."

  10. You’ve hit upon a truth here. Support for independence is Yousaf-proof as support for the union is Brexit-proof. People basically aren’t changing their minds one way or another over such a fundamental issue as independence no matter what other factors come and go. This is why the polls have basically been static since 2014 (I know you argue otherwise but a trawl through the WhatScotlandThinks records shows this to be the case. The odd bounce up or down a couple of percent, but basically flatlining).

    1. I'm sorry, but your claim that Yes support has been basically flatlining since 2014 is what is technically known as 'absolute bollocks'. The yearly averages have varied between 45% and 53% since 2014. That's the totally opposite of basically flatlining - it's massive movement, both in a positive and a negative direction. The records on What Scotland Thinks confirms that - I've no idea what you've been looking at, but the claim you're making is objectively, verifiably untrue.