Sarwar more popular among Scottish voters than Sturgeon, poll finds

Katie Neame

Labour’s Anas Sarwar has been found to be more popular among Scottish voters than Nicola Sturgeon while Boris Johnson’s approval rating in Scotland has fallen to an all-time low, research has found.

In the poll, carried out by Ipsos Mori and published today, the Scottish Labour leader received a net approval rating of +19, compared to the First Minister on +12. The Prime Minister’s net rating was -71, while Keir Starmer received a rating of -2.

The research, commissioned by STV News, found that 23% of those surveyed who said they were likely to vote in the next general election planned to back Labour – up from 19% in a previous poll conducted in December 2019.

According to the opinion poll, which saw researchers interview 1,000 Scottish residents over the age of 16, Labour is now second on vote share in Scotland behind the SNP on 44%. The proportion of voters who said they would opt for the Conservatives fell from 25% in the earlier poll to 19%.

Ipsos Mori managing director in Scotland Emily Gray said: “Although the SNP continues to dominate voting intentions, there are tentative signs of a recovery for Scottish Labour, with continued positive ratings for Anas Sarwar and Labour ahead of the Conservatives on Westminster voting intention.

“However, the scale of the challenge facing Labour is underlined by the fact that after 15 years in government the SNP remains the most trusted party across a wide range of policy areas. This includes the cost of living – which the public say is the most important issue facing Scotland at present.”

The poll found that 53% of respondents were satisfied with Sturgeon as SNP party leader, slightly ahead of Sarwar on 46%. But 41% of voters said they were dissatisfied with Sturgeon’s leadership, while only 27% said the same about Sarwar, resulting in his higher net approval rating.

A large majority of respondents reported that they were dissatisfied with the UK Prime Minister (83%), while only 12% said they approved of his leadership. 38% of voters said they were satisfied with Starmer’s performance as Labour leader and 40% said they were dissatisfied.

Douglas Ross was the least popular of the Holyrood leaders. The leader of the Scottish Conservatives received a net approval rating of -27, with 51% of voters telling researchers that they were unhappy with his leadership.

Scottish Labour made significant gains in the local elections that took place last month, moving into second place on vote share behind the SNP, as the Conservatives suffered their worst electoral result in a decade.

Commenting on results day, Sarwar said it was the “first positive and cheerful day” for the Scottish Labour Party in ten years and added: “Our eyes are now firmly set on the SNP.” He emphasised that he wants the party to “build” on the results, saying: “I don’t aspire for Labour to be in second – I aspire for us to be in first place.

“I had a mammoth task when I took over just over a year ago, but we managed to stop Armageddon last year and have demonstrated progress this year, making gains off the SNP and the Tories, winning in parts of Scotland we haven’t won in for a very long time.”

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