Anas Sarwar the 'frontrunner' in favourability battle between Labour leadership hopefuls, poll suggests

Both Scottish Labour leadership candidates are ahead of former leader Richard Leonard in public opinion, a new poll has suggested.

Anas Sarwar and Monica Lennon are both running to be the next leader of Scottish Labour

Anas Sarwar is currently the “frontrunner” ahead of Monica Lennon in the favourability stakes, with polling expert Chris Hopkins believing he could quickly “surpass” Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross.

The Glasgow region MSP has a net favourability of -7 per cent, well below Nicola Sturgeon’s 26 per cent, Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak’s 4 per cent, and UK Labour leader Keir Starmer’s -1 per cent, but on par with Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie.

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Meanwhile, Ms Lennon’s ratings are at -11 per cent, just below Mr Ross’ on -10 per cent, but ahead of Mr Leonard’s -22 per cent.

The Central Scotland region MSP is, however, unknown by almost half of Scots, with 43 per cent saying they did not know who she was.

This puts Ms Lennon at a disadvantage when compared to Mr Sarwar, who saw just 32 per cent say they could not rate him as favourable or not, just ahead of SNP MP Joanna Cherry, who is thought to have a larger public profile than either of the two leadership candidates.

Mr Hopkins, associate director of Savanta ComRes, said the figures suggested Mr Sarwar was the frontrunner for the Labour leadership.

He said: “Anas Sarwar’s net favourability score of -7 is a healthy start, ranking him alongside the more established Willie Rennie, while his leadership rival Monica Lennon’s favourability score is a little lower at -11.

"However, Sarwar’s recognition is at least 10 points higher than Lennon’s, and isn’t far behind that of Douglas Ross – while his favourability is marginally better than the Scottish Conservative leader’s – showing Sarwar to be the frontrunner in the leadership race in the minds of the public, rather than the party electorate, at this stage.

"Both Sarwar and Lennon do better than Richard Leonard in some metrics, but it is Sarwar for the moment who is out in front, with his increased recognition appearing to fuel positive impressions of him and, if we can continue on this trend, he’d be likely to surpass Douglas Ross fairly swiftly.”

Ballots are open for Scottish Labour party members to vote for their preferred candidate, with an announcement expected on February 27.

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