Scottish Independence Referendum & Westminster Voting Intention (2-4 September 2023)

September 6, 2023
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | GB Politics | GB Public Figures | Scottish Independence | UK Elections | UK Politics | Voting Intention

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Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest monthly Scottish independence referendum voting intention poll finds ‘no’ leading by 5%

Altogether—with changes from 5-6 August in parentheses—49% (+1) of Scottish respondents say they would vote ‘no’ and 44% (-1) say they would vote ‘yes’ if there were to be a referendum tomorrow on whether Scotland should be an independent country. 6% (-1) don’t know how they would vote. 

Support for Scottish independence remains strong among younger Scots, with majorities of those aged 18-to-24 (57%), 25-to-34 (66%), and 35-to-44 (52%) all saying they would vote ‘yes’ for independence. By comparison, majorities of those aged 45-to-54 (55%), 55-to-64 (56%), and 65+ (67%) say they would vote ‘no’ in an independence referendum. 

Those who voted for the Scottish National Party (75%) in the 2019 General Election are significantly more likely than those who voted Conservative (13%) or Labour (28%) to say they would vote ‘yes.’ 

On the question of whether a second referendum should take place—and if so, when—42% (+1) would support a referendum on Scottish independence being held in the next year, while the same number (42%, +2) would oppose one being held in this timeframe.

Given a broader timeframe of between one and five years, a plurality (42%, -2) of Scottish voters would support—against 40% (+1) who would oppose—a referendum on Scottish independence being held in that period

On the possible conditions for holding a second independence referendum, 41% of Scots agree that a second independence referendum should only be held if the UK Government agrees to it. 40% disagree.  

Secretary of State for Scotland Alister Jack has previously suggested that the calling of a second independence referendum should be conditional on public opinion polls consistently showing that 60% of Scots want one. 46% (-6) of Scottish voters agree with this proposed condition, against 29% (+3) who disagree. 

If a second referendum were to be held in Scotland in the next six months, 37% (-3) of voters in Scotland say they would expect the ‘yes, for independence’ side would win, whereas 45% (+2) think the ‘no, against independence’ side would win. 19% (+3) of respondents say they don’t know who would win if a referendum were held in the next six months. 

The next major electoral test for the Scottish parties is the next United Kingdom General Election, which must be held before January 2025.

When voters are asked who they would vote for if a UK General Election were held tomorrow, the Scottish National Party and Labour are tied on 35% each, the first time in our monthly tracker that the SNP has not held the lead in our Westminster voting intention Poll, and is only the second Westminster Voting Intention Poll publicly released by any company since June 2014 in which the SNP has not led in Scotland.

Altogether the results of our Westminster Voting Intention poll (with changes from 5-6 August in parentheses) are as follows:

Scottish National Party 35% (-2)
Labour 35% (+1)
Conservative 15% (-2)
Liberal Democrat 8% (+1)
Green 4% (+2)
Reform 2% (–)
Other 1% (–)

70% of Scottish voters cite the economy as one of the three most important issues that would determine how they would vote in a General Election, ahead of the NHS (61%). 

21% of respondents cite Scottish Independence/The Union as one of the three issues that would most determine their vote if a General Election was held tomorrow. Among 2019 SNP voters Scottish Independence is only the third most commonly selected issue (37%) behind the economy (64%) and the NHS (62%).

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak receives a net approval rating of -20%, up eight points from his rating last month. Our poll finds 46% (-3) of Scots disapprove of his overall job performance against 26% (+5) who approve. 

38% (-4) disapprove of Jeremy Hunt’s performance as Chancellor of the Exchequer, compared to 20% (+4) who approve, giving him a net approval rating of -18% (+8). 

Asked their view on the UK Government, a majority of Scots (59%, -3) say the current UK Government is incompetent. Only 15% (+2) view the UK Government as competent.

On its policy performance, Scottish voters give the UK Government negative net approval ratings on every policy issue listed, including on the NHS (-54%), the economy (-44%), and housing (-38%).

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s net approval rating in Scotland stands at +5%, up three points from our previous poll. 34% (+2) of Scottish voters approve of Starmer’s job performance, against 29% (-1) who disapprove. 

When asked which would be a better Prime Minister between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, 44% (+5) of Scottish voters say Keir Starmer and 30% (+2) say Rishi Sunak. 27% (-6) say they don’t know.

The next Scottish Parliamentary Election is not due to be held until May 2026.

However, when voters are asked who they would vote for if a Scottish Parliamentary Election were held tomorrow, the Scottish National Party has extended its lead in our constituency voting intention poll to 9% but now trails Labour by a wider margin of five points in our regional list voting intention poll

Altogether the results of our Holyrood Constituency Voting Intention poll (with changes from 5-6 August in parentheses) are as follows: 

Scottish National Party 39% (+3)
Scottish Labour 30% (-2)
Scottish Conservatives 16% (-3)
Scottish Liberal Democrats 8% (–)
Scottish Green Party 3% (+1)
Reform UK Scotland 3% (+2)
Alba Party 1% (–)
Other 0% (–) 

When voters are asked who they would vote for on their regional list ballot, Labour (30%, –) now leads the SNP (25%, -4) by five points, with the Scottish Conservatives a further ten points back in third position on 15% (-3).

Humza Yousaf’s latest net approval rating of is -8%, up three points from last month. 31% (+6) approve and 39% (+3) disapprove of his overall job performance since he became Leader of the SNP, with a further 24% (-7) saying they neither approve nor disapprove of his job performance.

Among other party leaders in the Scottish parliament the Conservatives leader, Douglas Ross, holds a net approval rating of -23%, down five points from last month’s poll. The Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, holds a net approval rating of +6%, up four points from last month.

A plurality (44%, +1) say the current Scottish Government is incompetent, compared to 28% (-1) who say it is competent. 

The Scottish Government earns negative ratings for its policy performance on every issue listed, except for the coronavirus pandemic (+25%) and the environment (+5%). 

The Scottish Government holds double-digit net negative ratings for its handling of issues such as housing (-20%), gender reform (-20%), drug policy (-17%), the economy (-13%), and the NHS (-13%).

44% disapprove of the Scottish Government’s performance on Scottish independence, compared to 31% who approve. 

Scottish voters believe Humza Yousaf would be a better First Minister for Scotland than either Douglas Ross or Anas Sarwar

Yousaf (42%, +4) leads Ross (27%, -2) by fifteen points, while Yousaf (37%, +4) also leads Sarwar (29%, +1) by eight points.

To find out more information about this research contact our research team. Redfield & Wilton Strategies is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Follow us on Twitter

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