THE prospect of the SNP holding the balance of power at Westminster could work to David Cameron’s advantage by convincing voters to hand him enough MPs to return to power, a poll has suggested.
Nearly half of voters think SNP influence in the next government would be negative for the UK as whole, a TNS poll of 1,118 adults in Great Britain found.
Last year’s referendum campaign has raised the profile of Scottish politics across the UK
Just 22 per cent think the SNP would have a positive influence compared with 46 per cent who said it would be negative, the poll for The Herald revealed.
Tom Costley, head of TNS Scotland, said the SNP must convince voters outside Scotland that it would be a constructive force at Westminster or they could hand power to the Conservatives on the understanding that the SNP has refused to do business with them.
Concerns about SNP influence are most acute among Conservative voters, with nearly three-quarters (72 per cent) regarding it as a negative influence compared with 13 per cent who said it would be positive.
Labour voters are more divided with 41 per cent saying the SNP would be a negative influence, 29 per cent positive and 30 per cent unsure.
Most voters rejected a formal or informal alliance between Labour and the SNP, with 41 per cent saying neither outcome would be good for the UK.
An informal agreement is slightly more popular among those who expressed an opinion at 17 per cent, compared with 11 per cent who favour a formal coalition.
Again, Conservative voters are the most sceptical of any Labour-SNP deal at 74 per cent.
But an informal Labour-SNP deal is the most popular outcome among Labour voters at 31 per cent while 23 per cent back a formal coalition and 26 per cent back neither option.
Scottish voters are more favourable towards SNP influence at Westminster, with 49 per cent saying it will have a positive influence and 30 per cent negative, based on the 101 people in Scotland surveyed in the poll.
But they are split over the prospect of a Labour-SNP deal, with 23 per cent each favouring a formal or informal deal, but 27 per cent saying neither outcome would be good for the UK.
Scepticism over SNP influence is strongest in south-east England (54 per cent) and north-east England (50 per cent), while just 17 per cent in each area think it would be positive.
Mr Costley said: “The poll results suggest that the issue of potential SNP influence in government is of real concern to voters across Great Britain.
“It also underlines how last year’s referendum campaign has raised the profile of Scottish politics across the UK: there is no polling data from previous general elections on how the rest of the UK views the electoral situation in Scotland, but it seems unlikely that the Scottish vote would have been such a subject of interest in the past.
“The survey also suggests that the SNP has much to do to convince voters outside of Scotland that it can be a constructive force in Westminster.
“Otherwise, the SNP factor could work to David Cameron’s advantage, handing power to the one party with which the SNP has said it will not do business.”
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