Scottish Independence Referendum & Westminster Voting Intention (30 April – 2 May 2023)

May 3, 2023
R&WS Research Team
Approval Rating | GB Politics | GB Public Figures | Scottish Independence | UK Elections | UK Politics | Voting Intention

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One month after Humza Yousaf’s election as Nicola Sturgeon’s successor as Leader of the Scottish National Party and First Minister of Scotland, Redfield & Wilton Strategies’ latest monthly Scottish independence referendum voting intention poll finds ‘no’ leading by 10%

Altogether—with changes from 31 March-1 April in parentheses—52% (+2) of Scottish respondents say they would vote ‘no’ and 42% (-2) say they would vote ‘yes’ if there were to be a referendum tomorrow on whether Scotland should be an independent country. 6% (–) say they don’t know how they would vote.

Support for Scottish independence remains strong among younger Scottish voters, with 48% (-3) of those aged 16-to-24 and 55% (+1) of 25-to-34-year-olds saying they would vote ‘yes’ for independence. By comparison, 37% of those aged 55-to-64 and 32% of those aged over 65 would vote ‘yes.’

Those who voted for the Scottish National Party (73%) in the 2019 General Election are significantly more likely than those who voted Conservative (10%) or Labour (25%) to say they would vote ‘yes.’

On the question of whether a second referendum should take place—and if so, when—47% (+3) would oppose a referendum on Scottish independence being held in the next year, while 37% (-4) would support one being held in this timeframe.

Given a broader timeframe of between one and five years, a narrow plurality (42%, +1) of Scottish voters would oppose—against 39% (-4) who would support—a referendum on Scottish independence being held in that period

On the possible conditions for holding a second independence referendum, an equal number (39%) agree and disagree that a second independence referendum should only be held if the UK Government agrees to it.

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 Scottish voters want one. 44% of Scottish voters agree with this proposed condition, including 44% of 2019 SNP voters. 

If a second referendum were to be held in Scotland in the next six months, 31% (-4) of voters in Scotland say they would expect the ‘yes, for independence’ side would win, whereas 50% (+3) think the ‘no, against independence’ side would win. 19% (+1) of respondents say they don’t know who would win if a referendum were held in the next six months. 

Pluralities of Scottish voters say neither adopting the Euro (42%) nor creating a new currency post-independence (42%) would make them more or less likely to support Scottish independence. 

22% say if Rishi Sunak were Prime Minister at the time of a referendum it would make them more likely to support independence, although 56% still say it would make them neither more nor less likely either way. Likewise, 58% say if Keir Starmer was Prime Minister at the time of a referendum it would also make them neither more nor less likely to support independence.

The next major electoral test for the Scottish parties is the next General Election across the entire United Kingdom, 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 leads Labour by three points, two points less than in our previous Scottish tracker poll. The Conservative Party, which finished second to the SNP in Scotland in 2019, is in third place, fourteen points behind Labour.

Altogether, the results of our Westminster Voting Intention poll (with changes from 31 March-1 April in parentheses) are as follows:

Scottish National Party 35% (-1)
Labour 32% (+1)
Conservative 18% (-1)
Liberal Democrat 9% (-1)
Green 3% (+1)
Reform 2% (–)
Other 1% (–)

Overall, the Labour Party remains the most favourably viewed party in Scotland, holding a net favourability rating of +12% (+1).

The SNP loses seven points in net favourability from our previous poll to hold a net negative rating of -4%, although it remains the second most favourably viewed party in Scotland. All other parties also hold negative net favourability ratings, with an outright majority having an unfavourable view of the Conservative Party (58%). 

68% 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 (65%). 

Only 22% 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 (36%) behind the NHS (70%) and the economy (65%).

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak receives a net approval rating of -22%, down nine points from his rating last month. Our poll finds 44% (+5) of Scottish voters disapprove of his overall job performance against 22% (-4) who approve.

Sunak’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Jeremy Hunt, is viewed even more negatively, with his net rating dropping eight points from last month. 41% (+4) disapprove of Hunt’s performance as Chancellor, while 17% (-4) approve, giving him a net approval rating of -24% (-8). 

Asked their view on the UK Government, a majority of voters in Scotland (63%, +2) say the current UK Government is incompetent. Only 16% (-3) 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 (-56%), the economy (-48%), and housing (-44%).

Labour leader Keir Starmer’s net approval rating in Scotland stands at +2%, down six points from our previous poll. 30% (-5) of Scottish voters approve of Starmer’s job performance, against 28% (+1) who disapprove. 

When asked which would be a better Prime Minister between Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer, 41% (+3) of Scottish voters say Keir Starmer and 27% (-4) say Rishi Sunak. 32% (+1) say they don’t know.

The next Scottish Parliamentary Election is currently a distant prospect, not being due 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 retains a lead in our constituency voting intention poll but now trails Labour in our regional list voting intention poll

Altogether the results of our Holyrood Constituency Voting Intention poll (with changes from 31 March-1 April in parentheses) are as follows:

Scottish National Party 36% (-2)
Scottish Labour 32% (+4)
Scottish Conservatives 18% (–)
Scottish Liberal Democrats 8% (-2)
Scottish Green Party 2% (-1)
Reform UK Scotland 2% (–)
Alba Party 1% (+1)
Other 0% (-2) 

The Labour Party is ahead of the SNP to lead when voters are asked who they would vote for on their regional list ballot. The Labour Party is on 27% (+3), with the SNP in second place on 25% (-5), and the Scottish Conservatives in third place on 19% (–).

Humza Yousaf’s latest net approval rating is -17%, down ten points from last month. 22% (-1) approve and 39% (+9) disapprove of his overall job performance since he became Leader of the SNP, with a further 30% (-5) 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 -21%, down one point from last month’s poll. The Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, sees a seven-point decrease in his approval rating, which now stands at +3%.

A plurality (44%, +5) say the current Scottish Government is incompetent, compared to 25% (-9) who say it is competent. 

The Scottish Government earns negative ratings for its policy performance on every issue listed, except for coronavirus (+29%.) The Government holds double-digit net negative ratings for its handling of issues including education (-20%), the economy (-21%), drug policy (-24%), gender reform (-25%), and housing (-27%). 

45% disapprove of the Scottish Government’s performance on Scottish independence, compared to 29% who approve. 

Scottish voters believe Humza Yousaf would be a better First Minister for Scotland than either Douglas Ross (who he leads 37% to 25%) or Anas Sarwar (who he leads 31% to 29%). 

32% (-7) of Scottish voters’ think Yousaf will be a worse First Minister for Scotland than Nicola Sturgeon, against only 11% (–) who think he will be better. 34% (+2) think he will be about the same as Sturgeon.

33% (-6) of 2019 SNP voters think Yousaf will be a worse First Minister than Sturgeon, while only 12% (+3) think he will be better.

63% (+2) say the way they would vote in an independence referendum is unaffected by Yousaf’s election as First Minister. 15% (-4) say they are now more likely to vote ‘yes’ for independence since Yousaf’s election, while 11% (-3) say his election makes them less likely to vote ‘yes.’

Finally, majorities of voters say the likelihood of them voting for the SNP in a UK General Election (59%, +4) or a Scottish Parliamentary Election (58%, +5) is unaffected by Yousaf’s election as First Minister.

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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