John Curtice on why a 'dark cloud' remains over the SNP

Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at the University of Strathclyde, has given his assessment on the latest Savanta poll for The Scotsman

John Swinney has done his best. But so far he has had little success in restoring the SNP fortunes.

The party is stuck on the 33 per cent figure for Westminster vote intentions that Savanta recorded for the party at the beginning of the campaign. Indeed, it is the same figure that Savanta previously reported shortly after the downfall of Humza Yousaf - an event that now hangs over the party like a dark cloud.

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Meanwhile because Labour have edged up a point, they [the SNP] now trail their principal opponents by five rather than four points.

Much of the SNP’s campaign efforts have involved suggesting that a UK Labour government would fail to provide the resources needed to finance Scotland’s public services, including not least the health service north of the border. However, this line of attack seems to have made little impression.

Labour are ahead of the SNP by 32 per cent to 27 per cent when people are asked which party they trust most to improve health care in Scotland - a similar gap to the one recorded last month of 33 per cent to 29 per cent. 

Even among those who voted for the SNP in 2019, only 56 per cent nominate the SNP as the best party on this issue, whereas 69 per cent of 2019 Labour voters trust their party.

Meanwhile, Labour are ahead of the SNP on improving education by 30 per cent to 26 per cent, whereas at the beginning of the election campaign the two parties were equal on 28 per cent each. 

At the same time, the campaign has failed to register any marked increase in Mr Swinney’s personal popularity. Indeed, while, at 33 per cent, the proportion who regard him favourably is unchanged, now slightly more (40 per cent, up three points) say they think of him unfavourably. Even among those who voted SNP in 2019, there has only been a small increase, from 56 per cent to 59 cent who regard him favourably.

Equally, there has at most only been little improvement in the image of the party among those who voted for it in 2019. Just 49 per cent think that then party is united, up just two months on the beginning of the campaign. Meanwhile, at 58 per cent the proportion who believe that the party provides strong leadership is little different from the 57 per cent who did so in Savanta’s previous poll.

The SNP’s failure to make much progress is reflected above all in the party’s continued failure to win over the support of those who would still vote for independence. Just 64 per cent of current Yes supporters say they will vote SNP, little different from the 65 per cent who did so in Savanta’s last poll. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter (24 per cent) are backing Labour, up from 20 per cent.

Unless those Yes Labour supporters are won over in the next fortnight, the band of SNP MPs at Westminster looks set to be significantly diminished.



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