Voting for Britain: Opinion poll blow alarms SNP

THE SCOTTISH National Party was in a state of shock yesterday after an opinion poll showed public support plummeting. Black propaganda, a hostile press and the war in Kosovo were all blamed by anxious party officials but the deeper suspicion is that many Scots are frightened by the prospect of independence.

With less than two weeks to go before elections to Scotland's first parliament in 293 years, the SNP is trailing Labour by 20 points - the biggest recorded gap between the parties in recent times.

Alex Salmond, the SNP leader, tried to put a brave face on the findings of the poll - carried out for The Herald - promising to "barnstorm" his way across Scotland. But apart from fighting talk the party had nothing new to offer.

Yesterday its main topic was an attack on the hike in fuel taxes - an area of policy completely outside the responsibilities of the new Parliament. "As far as this campaign is concerned the SNP have not yet begun to fight. Our response to unfavourable opinion polls is to get our jackets off and get stuck into this campaign," Mr Salmond said.

Hopes for a revival rest heavily on the actor Sean Connery and the generation of a wave of patriotic fervour. Mr Connery, who funds the party to the tune of pounds 40,000 a year, is in Edinburgh this weekend to promote his latest movie, Entrapment. He will then turn to promoting the SNP, addressing a party rally on Monday night in Edinburgh, making guest appearances with Mr Salmond and probably adding his distinctive burr to a party election broadcast.

Translating the latest opinion poll into Holyrood seats gives Labour 63 - two short of an overall majority - the SNP 34, Liberal Democrats 18 and Tories 13. Earlier polls hadshown the SNP winning more than 40 seats. The remaining member of the 129-seat parliament could be MP Dennis Canavan, expelled by Labour and fighting his Westminster constituency of Falkirk West as an independent.

Angered by what he sees as a hostile, Unionist press, Mr Salmond said the party was going to take the campaign directly to the people, with more razzmatazz and more personalities. "We are going to be here, there and everywhere, barnstorming Scotland in the way we do best."

He was unrepentant over his condemnation of the Nato bombing of Yugoslavia and said the "Penny for Scotland" proposal - reversing the Budget tax cut to pay for public services - would remain a key campaign issue. Both gambles aroused criticism within the party and the anti-bombing stance has almost certainly cost public support.

Mr Salmond's personal poll ratings have fallen way below those of Donald Dewar, theSecretary of State for Scotland and probable First Minister of the Holyrood Parliament.

The SNP leader said it was understandable the campaign had been kept off the front pages by the war in Kosovo. However, he could not explain why that had cost the SNP more dearly than other parties.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever