Support for Scottish independence dips and fewer Scots believe SNP is ‘united’, poll finds

Division in party ‘could perhaps make people think twice about independence’, says pollster

Adam Forrest
Thursday 11 February 2021 14:44
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First minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon
First minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon

Support for Scottish independence has fallen, according to a new poll which also shows a rise in the number of Scots who believe the SNP is “divided”.

The latest Savanta ComRes survey puts support for leaving the UK at 53 per cent – down 4 per cent on January – with 47 per cent backing the union, when the undecideds are excluded.

The survey also found a drop of eight points in the number of Scots who think the SNP is “united” – down from 50 per cent last month to 42 per cent – amid the ongoing row between party leader Nicola Sturgeon and her predecessor Alex Salmond.

Mr Salmond has accused Ms Sturgeon of misleading theScottish parliament, as a committee of MSPs probes the Scottish government’s botched handling of harassment allegations against him.

Chris Hopkins, associate director at Savanta ComRes, said the four-point drop in the indyref2 voting intention had “naturally” coincided with the ongoing saga over the inquiry and very public splits in the party.

“That kind of division could perhaps make people think twice about independence and whether or not the SNP can be trusted ultimately to have a united front when it is needed the most to get independence over the line,” he added.

However, the SNP’s deputy leader Keith Brown pointed out that it marked 21 consecutive polls showing majority support for independence. 

“While polls are encouraging, the SNP will not take anything for granted,” he said. “The only way to guarantee Scotland can decide our own future is with both votes going to the SNP in May.”

The Savanta ComRes polls shows the SNP is still on course for a majority at May’s scheduled Holyrood election. Some 54 per cent of Scots say they will vote SNP in the constituency ballot, with 43 per cent support for the party on the regional list section.

Almost a quarter (23 per cent) plan to vote for the Scottish Conservatives in their constituency – a four-point rise in support – with 21 per cent backing them in the regional ballot.

Scottish Labour languishes in third place, with 16 per cent backing the party in the constituency vote and 18 per cent on the regional list. The Lib Dems polled 6 per cent on both sections of the ballot.

Those results would see 71 SNP MSPs elected – which would be a majority in the 129-seat Scottish Parliament and up from the 64 they won at the last election.

On Wednesday Ms Sturgeon confirmed she would she would testify at the Holyrood inquiry next Tuesday morning, as she again denied breaking the ministerial code by meeting Mr Salmond at her home in the early stages of claims against him.

Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Tory group leader at Holyrood, claimed there was “a cover-up at the heart of government” – pointing out that the SNP leader had “chosen not to tell officials in advance and not keep a record” of the meetings with Mr Salmond. 

“This whole affair stinks to high heaven,” said Ms Davidson.

However, first minister said she would attempt to end all the “ridiculous conspiracy theories” when she testifies before MSPs next week.

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