SNP leadership: It’s the Economy and NHS with voters

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By Russell Bruce

Redfield and Wilton have done a full Scottish poll and it is clear the next general election would mean a lower turnout for the SNP as things stand compared to 2019. The SNP is on 39% with Labour on 29%, Conservatives on 22% and Lib Dems on 6% based on likelihood to vote with Don’t Knows excluded. That is a long way from Ash Regan’s 50% plus 1. On a referendum tomorrow Yes is on 45% and No on 55% suggesting a static situation at best.

Its the economy stupid

We made this point in our last poll analysis. It is always the economy. Those surveyed said The Economy was their biggest concern at 71% followed by The NHS which was a priority for 63%.

SNP leadership ratings with 2021 SNP voters

Our headline graphic sets out the view of SNP voters at the 2021 Holyrood election on how they view the 3 candidates. Kate Forbes is in first place with 25% and a positive rating of +6%. Both Humza and Ash are in negative territory with SNP voters with Humza on -11%. With identified SNP members Humza pulled back to gain the lead with 27% to Kate Forbes 21%.

In our last analysis we suggested the result between the two leading candidates was likely to be close and within 5% or less. The Redfield and Wilton poll does not change our view for the present. As voting is on a preference basis one of the candidates will drop out and that is most likely Ash Regan. The question then is to whom do her second preferences votes go to. Kate Forbes is thought to be the most likely recipient where a second preference has been given.

On these figures, with 18 days to the result, Kate Forbes would need to pick up just half of Ash’s votes to squeeze a narrow victory. A lot can happen in 18 days with more party hustings and media debates to come.

A divided party?

There have always been differences but the SNP have had a remarkable ability to present overwhelming unity. That there are differences between the candidates other than they all are committed to independence should not be a surprise. Debate is healthy and difference in approach should not be condemned. Threats of leaving the party if this or that candidate wins does not help the cause of independence as the SNP is the only party that can build support for independence to a level where Sunak and Starmer saying No becomes unsustainable. The SNP is a centre left social democratic party.

How the parties stand in Scotland

The poll asked voters to indicate their favourability rating each party. Alba was -47%, Conservatives -35%, Greens -18%, Labour +9%, LibDem -13% and the SNP -1%.

When it came to the relevant performance of the UK and Scottish governments there was wide divergence. On The Economy the UK government scored -48% and the Scottish Government -10%.. On the NHS the UK Government scored -54% and the Scottish Government -16%. Despite a very much better performance for the Scottish Government on these key issues it is clear work needs to be done and a refresh is required with the next administration.

On best UK Prime Minister Scottish voters surveyed gave Starmer an 18% lead over Sunak. This underlines the work needed by the SNP to campaign against both the Tories and Labour to make the case for Scotland’s renewable energy wealth being harnessed for the benefit of the people of Scotland and not squandered as the oil was under Thatcher and Blair. Starmer is even more committed than Sunak to refusing a second independence referendum. His entire project is election through gaining back the Red Wall in England along with total commitment to Brexit against the interests of Scotland.

Channel 4 debate

It became quite clear who the challenger was to Humza as he repeatedly tried to undermine Kate’s commitment to following the majority views on issues of faith or no faith. Abortion was not a personal choice but Kate defended the right of women to chose and have those rights continued to be protected in law. She was also very clear about supporting the buffer zone around abortion clinics. The rights of women are safe with both leading candidates and Humza did not make the progress he thought he might on this.

Ash Regan was flummoxed on the Gary Lineker question and rather than say she did not know chose to guess and said ‘Red Card’. It just gets more embarrassing by the day that a leadership candidate can’t keep up with the headline issues of the day.

Channel 4 poll

The Channel 4 poll by Ipsos Scotland gave a clear lead to Kate Forbes as the public’s choice to become First Minister. With SNP voters Humza and Kate were neck and neck.

Understanding the economy

Many commentators on social media fail to understand that growing the businesses of the future has been SNP policy throughout the years Nicola Sturgeon was First Minister. Kate Forbes’ focus on this, especially small business growth, is not a move to the right but a continuation of SNP policy that makes Scotland the third richest part of the UK after London and the South East of England. That is why Sunak and Starmer want to prevent another independence referendum. They need Scotland’s economic wealth and resources to keep the UK afloat.