No lead on independence as Labour move into second in blow to Douglas Ross

Anas Sarwar is on track to wrestle back second place from the Scottish Conservatives as Douglas Ross continues to lick his wounds inflicted by the Partygate scandal, a new poll suggests.

It comes after the Scottish Conservative leader called for Boris Johnson to resign over the parties held in Downing Street during lockdown, only to retract his no confidence letter ahead of his party’s conference in Aberdeen in March.

The poll – which includes an eight percentage point lead for Scottish Labour at a Westminster election and a comfortable five and four point lead at a Holyrood election – continues to demonstrate the SNP’s dominance across politics in Scotland.

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The survey was undertaken by Survation for Ballot Box Scotland, interviewed 1,002 people aged 16 or over in Scotland between March 24 and 28.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar during the Scottish Labour conference at Glasgow Royal Concert Hall.

SNP support is not yet translating into clear support for independence, with the poll also showing a lead for No of 53 per cent versus support for Yes at 47 per cent once don’t knows are excluded, a one point swing in favour of No compared to the last Survation poll on independence in May 2021.

With undecideds, No support is at 47 per cent and Yes at 42 per cent, with 11 per cent stating they don’t know.

The poll suggests Douglas Ross and the Scottish Conservatives have taken a hit connected with Partygate and the ongoing cost of living crisis, dropping to third place behind Scottish Labour.

Scottish Labour have a four point lead over the Scottish Tories in the Holyrood regional list (23 per cent and 19 per cent respectively), with Labour on 25 per cent and the Tories on 20 per cent on the constituency ballot.

Such a result would see Sarwar’s party replace the Scottish Tories in second place, but with the SNP on 46 per cent for the constituency and 36 per cent on the list, they would be around 35 seats behind Nicola Sturgeon’s party.

Support for the Scottish Greens remains in the double digits at 11 per cent, with the Liberal Democrats on eight per cent and Alba stuck on two percent on the regional list.

Voting intentions for a general election show Labour have likely bounced back from its 2019 nadir and may be back to levels of support last seen in 2017, recording 27 per cent.

This would put it comfortably ahead of the Scottish Tories (19 per cent) but still almost 20 points behind the SNP (45 per cent).

The 2015 election, when Labour recorded just over 24 per cent of the vote, resulted in just one seat for the party.

Two years later in 2017 with three per cent more of the vote and alongside a collapse in the SNP vote, Labour won seven seats, demonstrating the narrow margins on which seats in Scotland are won under the first past the post system.

In 2019, Scottish Labour recorded its worst vote share since devolution with just 18 per cent of the vote and one seat.

Allan Faulds from Ballot Box Scotland, an independent polling analysis website, said: “This poll will put a spring in Anas Sarwar’s step, showing Labour at their strongest in years and well positioned to displace the Conservatives as Scotland’s second largest party.

"Though Douglas Ross may have hoped the worst of the lockdown parties fallout had passed, his party’s support is yet to fully recover.

“However the SNP remain the party to beat, with a clear overall lead.

"Whether that government will convince Scots to support Independence is another matter, as this poll adds to a trend showing a consistent, but narrow, preference for the Union.”

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