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SNP to retain just 15 of 43 seats with Labour set to overtake in Scotland: poll

04 May 2024 4 minute read
First Minister Humza Yousaf leaves after a press conference at Bute House. Photo Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

The SNP will retain just 15 of its current 43 seats at the forthcoming general election, according to a new poll for the Sunday Times.

The forecast comes as Humza Yousaf announced his resignation as First Minister on Monday after he abruptly ended the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Green Party.

The Sunday Times poll, by Norstat – formerly known as Panelbase, is one of the first of its kind since Mr Yousaf announced his resignation, and looked at voting intentions for both Westminster and Holyrood.

It found that while support for independence remains largely unchanged, Labour is set to overtake the SNP at both Westminster and Holyrood, bringing an end to the SNP’s streak of four consecutive election victories.

John Swinney

The survey comes as John Swinney is now expected to become first minister on Tuesday, provided no other challengers enter the race.

When asked who would make the best first minister from a list of SNP candidates, Mr Swinney and Kate Forbes were neck and neck with the public on 23%, although Ms Forbes has said she will not be standing.

Stephen Flynn, the SNP leader at Westminster, was backed by 7%, and Jenny Gilruth, the Scottish education secretary, scored just 2%.

Independence referendum

The SNP vote share in a Westminster election would fall to its lowest level since the 2014 independence referendum, the poll says.

The party would hold just 15 of its 43 seats with Scottish Labour winning 28 – a dramatic increase from its current two.

According to the Sunday Times poll, the SNP would attract votes from 29% of the electorate – a fall of three points in a month, while Labour’s share increased by two points to 34%.

This would return 15 SNP MPs and amount to a significant reversal in electoral performance.

Under Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP became the third largest party at Westminster, winning 56 of 59 Scottish seats in 2015.

There are currently 43 SNP MPs at Westminster.

The Scottish Conservatives, whose vote share remained at 16% in the poll, would add three seats to return nine MPs – while the Liberal Democrats, on 8%, would boost their yield by one to five MPs.

Support for independence remains evenly balanced, with 48% in favour of Scotland leaving the UK and 52% backing the Union.

Voting intentions at Holyrood show the SNP remains a point ahead of Labour in the constituency vote at 34%.

The Conservatives would pick up 14% of the vote, the Lib Dems 9% and the Greens 5% – with the remaining 5% to other parties.

But Scottish Labour has edged a point ahead of the SNP on the more proportional regional list vote with the nationalists’ return of 27%.

The Tories would win 17% of regional votes, the Greens 9%, Lib Dems 8%, Reform UK 6% and Alex Salmond’s Alba Party 4%.

Holyrood

An analysis by polling expert Sir John Curtice for the Sunday Times found that this result would leave Labour as the largest party at Holyrood with 40 seats.

The remainder of the chamber would be 38 for the SNP, 24 Conservatives, 10 Greens, nine Lib Dems and eight Reform parliamentarians.

This would mark a historic breakthrough for Nigel Farage’s party in Scotland as it at least partially replicates its gains in England by attracting some older, Brexit-supporting Tories north of the border.

Sir John, professor of politics at Strathclyde University – who compiled the seat projections, said the “question that now arises is whether the coronation of John Swinney will enable the SNP to turn the page”.

He added: “Even among those who said they would vote Yes in another independence referendum, only 56% said they were now willing to back the SNP for Westminster, as would only two-thirds who voted for the party in 2019.”

Norstat interviewed 1,086 people aged 16 or over in Scotland between April 30 and May 3.

The SNP and the Scottish Government were contacted for comment.


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Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
17 days ago

The SNP haven’t helped themselves here. However, in this coming election I reckon many will vote Labour just to get rid of the hated Tories and not because other parties, such the SNP, have got themselves into a mess. It’s the next GE in five years time that will be more important in many respects. Will Labour have done enough to win a second term and will they have strengthened the Union or not.

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
17 days ago
Reply to  Steve A Duggan

Strengthening the union will merely prolong the economic and social agony we in Cymru have suffered for centuries.

Steve A Duggan
Steve A Duggan
14 days ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

I agree, I’m just speculating as to whether Labour will both to try and stop the Union breaking apart or not. I personally believe it does not matter whatever it does – it’s too late, the Union is doomed. Cymru must start preparing itself for independence.

Padi Phillips
Padi Phillips
17 days ago
Reply to  Steve A Duggan

Given that it’s quite clear that Labour under Starmer haven’t got a clue and have more or less promised to continue with Tory ideological austerity policies I think it won’t be very long before significant disillusionment sets in among an electorate let down by the lack of any significant improvement in their lives.

Sadly I think it is the far-right that will benefit from that, as they will make promises they can’t deliver, but people will succumb to their appeal. This is already happening in much of Europe, and the rest of the world.

hdavies15
hdavies15
16 days ago
Reply to  Padi Phillips

Can’t disagree with any of that. Labour’s “Continuity Tory” pose may win the GE but will do next to nothing for the UK entity over the next few years other than enable the recovery of those hard core areas that are already way ahead of lesser regions in the “prosperity charts”. So most of Wales, Scotland and outer English regions will linger in the ditch. As for SNP’s prospects any losses at GE can be attributed to their recent record in devolved government. I don’t see much value in the predictions of these polls but accept that some losses will… Read more »

Riki
Riki
17 days ago

This is what happens when you allow for your main agenda (independence) to be taken over by a minority who’s concerns are nothing short of insane.

David
David
16 days ago
Reply to  Riki

The SNP no longer stand for independence. They are more interested in gender identification by ignoring science (XX & XY chromosones) and are against the Dr Cass review which also Plaid Cymru disagree with. Plaid will end up like the SNP.

Cwm Rhondda
Cwm Rhondda
17 days ago

Why would anyone in Scotland or Cymru vote for the British Labour Party? We’ve both been serially let down by them for many, many years.

Morfudd ap Haul
Morfudd ap Haul
16 days ago
Reply to  Cwm Rhondda

They are not just voting on the way Labour have run Wales. If that is what you mean by being serially let down?

Annibendod
Annibendod
17 days ago

Looks like the UK establishment has played a long and easy game with the SNP. I’m very disappointed at their timidity. 2015 was the high water mark. They should have held Cameron’s feet to the fire over the so called “Vow” and got all the constitutional concessions they could. With hindsight I think Brexit has waylaid them. For all the outrage, they have been far too passive. Now as they struggle with the difficulty of incumbency, their voter base is turning elsewhere despite remaining in favour of independence. They need to regroup. Starmerism is not the overhaul Broken Britain needs.… Read more »

Last edited 17 days ago by Annibendod

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