Poll position: analysis of this week’s YouGov poll

There was a time in the not very distant past when the publication of a new poll meant embarrassment and humiliation for Scottish Labour. Now, however, that has all changed, with the release of each survey leading even the most cool-headed party functionaries to dream of triumph at Westminster and Holyrood.

The latest YouGov poll is a case in point. It shows Scottish Labour has closed the gap on the SNP to just four points on Westminster voting intention. Given the concentration of the party’s support in the Central Belt, such a result would see more than 20 SNP seats return to the Labour fold, helping Sir Keir Starmer take a big step towards Downing Street in the process.

It is a similar story for the Scottish Parliament. While SNP strategists will take comfort from the commanding lead the party still enjoys in constituency preferences (ten points), this ignores the trajectory of its support, which is falling rapidly from a recent peak of 50 percent in December 2022. Meanwhile, Scottish Labour has closed the gap to four points on the regional list, suggesting it is currently well on course to return as a major force in the Scottish Parliament.

Warning signs for Scottish Labour still remain, however. Humza Yousaf’s popularity has begun to improve – albeit is still in the red – after a gruelling SNP leadership contest and difficult first 100 days. The return of the Scottish Parliament and a strong Programme for Government next month could reinvigorate Yousaf and the SNP still further. Equally, support for independence continues to ride high at 48 percent, suggesting there remains a sizeable constituency of voters that should, theoretically, be favourable to the Nationalists.

Either way, the October by-election in Rutherglen and Hamilton West will prove a key litmus test of Scottish Labour’s resurgence and whether – despite all the bad polls in the past – the party should really start to dream of electoral success again.

Andrew Liddle

Senior Advisor

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