Nicola Sturgeon's high approval rating makes her one of the UK's most influential politicians
The SNP are on course to increase their majority at Holyrood, according to new polling on voting intentions in Scotland ahead of May’s elections.
The survey, conducted by the traditionally Labour supporting Daily Record, finds that on the constituency vote the SNP are on 52 per cent, way ahead of Labour in second place on 21 per cent, the Conservatives on 16 per cent, Lib Dems on 7 per cent and others parties on 4 per cent.
Asked how they would vote in the regional list section of the vote, 42 per cent of those polled said the SNP. Labour were on 20 per cent, the Conservatives on 16 per cent, the Greens on 9 per cent, the Lib Dems on 8 per cent and UKIP on 5 per cent.
According to the Scotland Votes website, if replicated at the elections to the Scottish Parliament in May, this would see the number of SNP MSPs increase by one to 70 whilst Labour would lose 11 of the seats it currently holds to net just 26.
The Conservatives would increase their tally of MSPs from 15 to 18 whilst even the Lib Dems would add two seats to the five they currently hold. The Greens also would see the number of seats they hold increase from 2 to 8.
Of perhaps more concern, given recent attacks by opposition parties on the SNP’s records on domestic policy issues such as health, education and policing, across all policy areas the Scottish government has a net approval rating for their handling of them.
Asked about their attitudes to the leaders of the main Scottish parties, voters give SNP leader and first minister Nicola Sturgeon a net favourability score of 27.
This is ahead of Green leader Patrick Harvie on 0, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davison on -6, Willie Rennie for the Lib Dems on -7 and finally Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale on -9.
The poll finds also that 65 per cent of Scottish voters plan to vote to remain in the European Union in the forthcoming referendum.
In his column today, the Daily Record’s Westminster editor Torcuil Crichton has noted that Nicola Sturgeon’s popularity could be crucial in keeping the UK in the European Union and, by extension, maintaining Scotland’s place in the UK.
Asserting that the first minister is ‘the most influential politician in the land’ and that ‘she is going to come under extraordinary pressure to fulfil her destiny’ he argues today:
“No politician can influence the popular vote, across Britain I’d say, more persuasively than Sturgeon.
“Everyone knows if the UK voted to leave the EU, while Scotland voted to stay, it would open the door to a second independence referendum.
“That is behind Sturgeon’s call for a “double lock” Scottish veto and provides the great temptation for the SNP leader.”
“By not taking political advantage, Sturgeon would be acknowledging the EU vote is actually bigger than Scotland and not just about preventing Britain from becoming a disunited off-shore rump of Europe.
“Step forward Nicola Sturgeon, saviour of the United Kingdom, grace of Europe.”
Ed Jacobs is a contributing editor at Left Foot ForwardLike this article? Sign up to Left Foot Forward's weekday email for the latest progressive news and comment - and support campaigning journalism by making a donation today.