Scottish Independence: SNP and Green deal 'strengthens support' for independence cause, poll suggests

Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to bring the Scottish Greens into government has strengthened the SNP’s calls for a second independence referendum according to more than half of Scots, a new poll states.

However, the First Minister will likely face a stiff battle to convince the UK Government the public backs her approach with the survey stating that public support for a second vote falls well short of the figure set by Scottish secretary Alister Jack as a trigger for indyref2 just weeks ago.

It comes as support for independence among Scots stays broadly static compared to in May.

A total of 45 per cent of voters said they would vote Yes should a second independence referendum be held tomorrow, with 47 per cent saying they would vote No and 10 per cent stating they did not know how they would vote.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon (centre) and Scottish Green Party co-leaders Patrick Harvie (left) and Lorna Slater (right) at Bute House, Edinburgh, after the finalisation of an agreement between the SNP and the Scottish Greens to share power in Scotland.

With don’t knows excluded, No would see support of 52 per cent, down one percentage point from the last poll in May, while 48 per cent would vote Yes, up one point from May.

The poll, undertaken by Savanta ComRes for The Scotsman, interviewed 1,016 Scottish adults aged 16 and above between September 3 and 9, 2021.

It shows Scots are more likely than not to support the new "cooperation deal” between the Scottish Greens and the SNP which saw both Green co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater enter government as junior ministers.

Asked to rate their support of the deal, a total of 43 per cent of Scots said they supported it, 36 per cent said they opposed the deal, and 18 per cent said they neither supported nor opposed the agreement.

SNP voters were the most likely to back the deal with 76 per cent in support, followed by 24 per cent of Labour voters and 23 per cent of Scottish Liberal Democrat voters.

Scottish Green party voters are also overwhelmingly in favour of the partnership with 91 per cent stating they support the deal and six per cent stating they opposed it.

Unsurprisingly, 80 per cent of Scottish Conservative voters opposed the deal, with 66 per cent “strongly opposing” the agreement.

Overall, however, Scots believe the deal is a good move for Nicola Sturgeon, green policies, and the Scottish independence campaign.

More than half (54 per cent) said the deal strengthens the calls for a second independence referendum, with 23 per cent stating it makes no difference and just 13 per cent arguing that it weakens the demands.

More than a third (37 per cent) added that the deal weakens the prospect of Scotland remaining part of the United Kingdom.

Just under half of Scots (49 per cent) also said the deal strengthens the SNP leader herself, with one in five arguing that the deal changes nothing and a further 21 per cent arguing that it weakens the First Minister.

It comes two weeks after the Secretary of State for Scotland said the UK Government would be minded to acquiesce to calls for a second referendum should 60 per cent of Scots support holding a vote over a “reasonably long period”.

This is a similar figure to the level of support for independence privately put forward by senior SNP figures as key to any future victory at the ballot box.

Mr Jack said the figure he was referring to is specifically about “wanting a referendum – not wanting independence”

This poll is the first time Scots have been asked this specific question, without asking for a preferred timeline.

The results show this prospect is still some way off and would require at least one in ten Scots changing their mind about indyref2 in favour of holding a second referendum.

In total, half of Scots (50 per cent) said they believed there should not be a second independence referendum, with 44 per cent of voters saying there should be another vote.

Just under quarter (23 per cent) of Scottish Labour voters, however, said there should be a vote, with 16 per cent of SNP voters saying there should not be a referendum.

A further six per cent of voters said they did not know.

Voters also believe the deal between the Scottish Greens and the SNP is going to result in positive outcomes for Scottish people.

Almost six in ten Scots (58 per cent) said they believe the deal will result in Scottish people getting better climate policy and more than half (51 per cent) said the same for energy policy.

No single policy area was judged by voters as likely to get worse for Scots due to the agreement.

Chris Hopkins, associate director at Savanta ComRes, said the deal between the two parties may not impact the Greens’ popularity due to the “huge overlap” with Green list voters and SNP constituency voters.

He said: “Support for the SNP/Green deal is, unsurprisingly, driven by voters from those parties, and although not a formal coalition, it’ll be interesting to see how the Green’s electoral fortunes play out over the course of the deal, with voters across the continent rarely rewarding any coalition’s ‘junior’ partner – but with those voting Green on the list having a huge overlap with those voting SNP in their constituency, perhaps it will have little impact.

“Of course, those two parties share independence as a long-term goal, and following something of a climbdown from the UK government, indicating that there may be a second referendum if around 60 per cent of Scots desire one, this poll shows half think there shouldn’t be another referendum – including 16 per cent of those who voted SNP at the last election.”

Support for each of Scotland’s major parties has stayed relatively static since the Holyrood election, with the SNP securing 48 per cent of the constituency vote, the Conservatives 22 per cent, Labour (down two points since the election) 20 per cent, and the Liberal Democrats on seven per cent.

On the list vote, the decision to go into government with the SNP has not hurt the Scottish Greens with their support showing growth since the election.

A total of 13 per cent of voters say they would vote Green if an election was held tomorrow, five points higher than their record result in May.

The SNP’s list vote has dropped four points when compared to the results in May to 36 per cent, with the Conservatives down one point on 23 per cent, Labour on 18 per cent, the Lib Dems up two points to seven per cent, and the Alba Party on two per cent of the vote.

Such a result would have little effect on the composition of Holyrood, with the Greens likely to gain five seats, gaining three from the Tories and two from Labour, while the SNP would lose two seats to the Liberal Democrats.

Almost all of Scotland’s major politicians have seen their approval ratings drop since the election in May.

Nicola Sturgeon’s net favourability is still the highest of all but has dropped seven points to +13.

Labour’s Anas Sarwar’s approval has dropped nine points to 0, while the Green co-leaders Lorna Slater and Patrick Harvie have dropped five and three points respectively to -12 and -16.

New Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton has his first favourability rating of -8, while Conservative leader Douglas Ross bucked the trend with a rise of two points to -19.

Alex Salmond remains the most unpopular politician in Scotland with a net favourability of -63, below that of Boris Johnson who has dropped eight points since May to -46 net favourability and Keir Starmer who dropped three points to -21.

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