Edinburgh - 8 October - The election of new leaders of UK and Scottish Labour appears to have had no immediate impact on the standing of the party in Scotland, where it remains 35 percentage points behind the SNP, according to the latest poll from TNS.
Among those who expressed a preference in the constituency vote for the Scottish Parliament in next May’s elections, support for both Scotland’s main parties eased by two percentage points over the past month. The SNP now stands at 56% with Labour on 21%, the Conservatives are unchanged on 12% and the Liberal Democrats up one point at 6%. The two-point drop in support for both main parties is within the margin of statistical error.
The poll among 1037 adults over 16 in Scotland was carried out after the election of Kezia Dugdale as leader of the Scottish Labour Party, and almost all the interviewing took place after Jeremy Corbyn became UK Labour leader.
Tom Costley, Head of TNS Scotland said, “People are still getting to know the new Labour leaders and what they stand for, so it’s not surprising there has been little immediate impact on voting intentions.
“One crumb of comfort for Labour may be that the overwhelmingly negative media commentary on Corbyn’s election appears not to have affected the party’s Scottish support, though the poll was carried out before his recent statement that he would never authorise the use of the UK’s nuclear deterrent if he became prime minister.
“Neither did the poll show signs of the reported Labour revival among younger voters: the party’s support in Scotland among the 16-34 age group was only 13%, down four points on the previous month and a fifth of the SNP’s support in this age group (68%).”
There was similarly little change in voting intentions in the regional list section of the Holyrood vote. Among those who expressed a preference, 52% intended to vote SNP (up one percentage point) with Labour on 23% (-1), the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats unchanged on 11% and 6% respectively and the Greens on 5% (-1).
The poll shows that the SNP remains more successful than Labour in retaining the loyalty of its voters. Among those who voted in the general election and who expressed a preference in the survey, 97% of those who voted SNP at the general election intend to back the party for the Holyrood election next year, against 85% of those who voted Labour intending to do so again in May.
Opinion on membership of the European Union also shows little change over the last few months, with 47% intending to vote for the UK to remain in the EU in the promised referendum, down two points since the last time TNS asked this question in May. Support for a British exit was 18% (-1) with 29% undecided (+3) and 5% saying they would not vote (+1).
Since Corbyn’s election as Labour leader, doubts have been expressed about the party’s commitment to EU membership, while the SNP remains strongly in favour. However, Labour’s voters in Scotland appear to be more pro-EU than SNP supporters, with two thirds (66%) of Labour voters wanting to stay in the EU with 13% wanting to leave, against under half of SNP voters (46%) in favour of remaining and 23% supporting exit.
Younger voters, (16-34) are overwhelmingly pro-EU, with 57% intending to vote to stay in and 13% backing an exit. Opinion among voters over 55 shows a smaller margin, with 39% opting to stay in and 21% favouring an exit.
Commenting, Tom Costley said, “Overall, opinion is quite stable on the EU question. However, the referendum is still some time away, the campaigns are just starting to get organised and we do not yet know what deal the Prime Minister will bring back from Brussels. So it is far too early to draw conclusions about what choice Scotland will make at the ballot box.”
Notes to editors:
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- A sample of 1037 adults aged 16+ was interviewed across Scotland over the period 9th to 30th September 2015.
- Although the franchise is currently limited to those aged 18 and over, the voting age is expected to fall to 16 for the 2016 Holyrood election, so TNS has decided to interview those aged 16 and over.
- To ensure the sample was representative of the adult population of Scotland, it was weighted to match population estimates for working status within gender, age, social grade and Scottish Parliament region, and to match turnout and share of vote from the 2011 Holyrood election (constituency vote) and the 2015 General Election.
- All interviews were conducted face-to-face, in-home using CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing) and quota sampling.
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