Where the party has lost voters, they were turned off by its pro-European stance—not its support for a second independence referendumby John Curtice / October 9, 2017 / Leave a comment
It has been a tough few months for the SNP. In June the party lost 21 of the 56 Westminster seats that it had secured two years previously. Later that month the party’s leader and First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, put her plans to hold a second independence referendum by spring 2019—that is, before the UK is due to leave the EU—on pause. Meanwhile, the party’s attempts to persuade the UK government to soften its stance on Brexit have so far come to naught.
Yet as the party gathers for its annual conference, its difficulties are, perhaps, all too easily exaggerated. Two polls conducted in the last few weeks, one from Survation and one from YouGov, both suggest that the slide in the party’s support registered in the UK general election has been stemmed. One put support for the party in a forthcoming Westminster election at 39 per cent. The other at 40 per cent, some two to three points above what the SNP secured in June.
True, the party’s support is still down on the 46.5 per cent vote it secured on the constituency ballot in the Scottish Parliament election last year. However, standing at 41-42 per cent in three recent polls of Holyrood vote intentions, the party is still way ahead of all of all of its rivals.
Indeed, opposition to the party is now as divided as ever. Earlier this year it looked as though Labour could be swept to irrelevance north of the border, with the unionist vote coalescing around a revived Conservative Party. But now the Scottish Tory revival appears to have stalled, while the modest recovery in Labour support registered in June continues.