NHS Scotland crisis: Public believe SNP are running public services poorly, poll suggests

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A majority of Scots believe the SNP is running Scotland’s public services poorly, a poll from pro-union campaign group Scotland in Union suggests.

Support for the SNP at the next Westminster election also falls short of the 50 per cent required to win a so-called ‘de facto’ referendum on Scottish independence, based on responses to the survey.

Asking a non-standard question of whether people believe Scotland should leave or remain within the UK, the poll also shows support for remaining in the UK at 59 per cent compared to 41 per cent, with no changes since the previous poll by the group.

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The poll, undertaken by Survation between December 22 and January 1, interviewed 1,025 Scottish adults aged 16 and over online.

The judgement on the SNP’s record running public services is clear, with a majority of Scots stating they believe the SNP is doing “not well” on the majority of policy areas.

The survey shows 61 per cent of Scots believe the SNP is performing poorly with the NHS, the economy, and the railways, with 58 per cent agreeing when asked about ferries and social care.

More than half (52 per cent) also state the party is performing poorly with education, compared to 39 per cent stating they are doing well.

The SNP are judged to be performing best on welfare and benefits (41 per cent well), climate change prevention (41 per cent), and crime and policing (40 per cent).

A poll has suggested voters are unhappy with the SNP's performance running public servicesA poll has suggested voters are unhappy with the SNP's performance running public services
A poll has suggested voters are unhappy with the SNP's performance running public services

Ferry performance sees the lowest number of people stating the SNP is performing well, with just 22 per cent.

The poll also suggests two thirds of Scots (67 per cent) believe the Scottish Government could be doing more with the powers it has available to combat the cost-of-living crisis, compared to just under a quarter (23 per cent) who believe it is doing everything possible with its powers.

The survey also states just a third of voters (33 per cent) believe the next general election should be fought as a de-facto referendum, with 54 per cent stating it shouldn’t be.

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The result comes after Scottish Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater said earlier this month told sister title Scotland on Sunday that fighting the next general election as a ‘de-facto’ referendum was a “last ditch” attempt to secure independence.

A victory in such a ‘de-facto’ vote would be defined as achieving more than 50 per cent of the popular vote for pro-independence parties, according to the intention proposed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

The Survation poll suggests the SNP would receive 44 per cent of the vote at a Westminster election, with Labour on 31 per cent, the Conservatives 16 per cent, and the Liberal Democrats on 6 per cent.

In a Holyrood election, the SNP would also receive 44 per cent in the constituency ballot, with Labour on 29 per cent, the Tories again on 16 per cent, and the Liberal Democrats on 8 per cent.

In the list vote, the SNP’s support drops to 33 per cent, with Labour on 26 per cent, the Conservatives on 15 per cent, the Greens on 12 per cent, and the Liberal Democrats on 9 per cent – seven points ahead of minor parties Reform UK and Alba, themselves only a point ahead of UKIP on 1 per cent.

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said the poll should act as an “urgent wake-up call” for the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon.

She said: “This stark poll shows that the people of Scotland are deeply unhappy with the SNP’s performance running our cherished public services.

“With record waits at A&E and a crisis in GP services, the ongoing ferries scandal, a broken promise on closing the education attainment gap, and endless economic uncertainty, this must act as an urgent wake-up call for Nicola Sturgeon and her ministers as they return to Holyrood.

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“It’s time for the people’s priorities in 2023, not the SNP’s priorities. The people of Scotland want their Government to prioritise the cost-of-living crisis, the NHS, energy bills, and the economy and jobs.

“The overwhelming majority of voters want to remain part of the UK and only a third believe the next election should be a ‘de facto referendum’ on leaving the UK, demonstrating how out of touch the SNP and Greens have become.”

An SNP spokesperson claimed polls had shown the “appetite for Scottish independence” growing because of the cost-of-living crisis.

They added: “The SNP Scottish Government is committed to investing in public services and protecting the most vulnerable people in Scotland from the impact of decisions and policies made by the UK Government including many benefits not available throughout the UK, such as free prescriptions, free access to higher education and the Scottish Child Payment.

“The Scottish Government has allocated £3 billion to mitigate the impact of the cost of living crisis, increased the game changing Scottish Child Payment to £25 per eligible child per week – a 150% increase within eight months - and attempted to secure fair pay settlements for public sector workers.

“Constantly, the Scottish Government is forced to clean up after the Tories at Westminster, spending valuable time and money mitigating the policy disasters implemented by the UK government. Instead, with independence, we could be getting on with implementing the progressive policy agenda and escape from austerity people in Scotland desperately want to see.”

The Scottish Government was contacted for comment.

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