This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

Little has changed in the polls in Scotland since Rishi Sunak announced the General Election in a rain-soaked Downing Street on 22nd May.

The five polls taken most recently show Labour ahead of the SNP by five points on average, with Labour on 36% of the vote, the SNP on 31% and the Conservatives a distant third on 13%. This is an identical vote share for Labour and the SNP compared with the five polls taken before the election was announced, when the two parties were on an average of 36% and 31% respectively and the Conservatives on 15%.

This indicates that none of the three largest parties have managed to shift Scottish public opinion substantially in their favour over the course of the campaign. The only significant shift in voting intentions to date has been an increase in those saying they plan to vote for Nigel Farage’s Reform UK, with an average of 8% of vote share in recent Scotland polls. While this is very unlikely to translate into any Scottish seats for Reform UK, it may damage the Scottish Conservatives’ support further in key marginal seats where they already face tight contests with the SNP.

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With a 20-point UK poll lead over the Conservatives going into this election campaign, Labour has not wanted to rock the boat. The party has maintained its position among the British public as having the best policies on the issues that matter to voters, with a 32-point lead over the Conservatives on the NHS, a 10-point lead on managing the economy and a 21-point lead on reducing the cost of living.

Keir Starmer has also managed to extend his lead over Rishi Sunak when it comes to who the public think would make a better Prime Minister. All this means that in the final days of this General Election campaign, Labour looks to have retained its substantial poll lead UK-wide and to be on course for a majority at Westminster.

In Scotland, though, Labour faces much closer competition from the SNP on the issues that matter to voters. The NHS is the top issue for voters at this election both north and south of the border, and Ipsos polling in June showed that a similar proportion of the public (30%) trust Labour most on this issue as trust the SNP most on this issue (29%). On the economy, the second most important issue for the public, the SNP were a little more trusted than Labour – although Labour enjoyed slightly higher trust than the SNP when it comes to tackling the cost of living.

The NHS is the top issue for voters north and south of the border this electionThe NHS is the top issue for voters north and south of the border this election (Image: Unsplash)
The SNP started this election campaign in a much weaker position than it did going into the last General Election in 2019. The defining trend in the Scottish polls over the past two years has been one of SNP decline and Labour resurgence. On the evidence of polls taken during this campaign to date the SNP does not look to have been able to reverse that trend under John Swinney’s leadership. That said, last-minute swing is still a possibility, and all parties will be maximising their efforts to get their vote out in the final days of the campaign.

Polling indicates the Scottish public has not felt especially enthused by any of the party leaders during this election campaign. None receives a positive approval rating from the public. Of course, the Conservatives will have a new leader in Scotland post-election, following Douglas Ross’ unprecedented announcement during the campaign that he would be stepping down. Ross has consistently been the least popular among the public of any of Scotland’s party leaders over the past three years, and a new leader may be better placed to help the Conservatives regroup in Scotland after this election.

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There is very little comfort for the Conservatives in recent polling, with Rishi Sunak and his party viewed much more negatively than Keir Starmer or the Labour Party. Over seven in ten of the British public now say they dislike the Conservative Party, the worst rating Ipsos has ever recorded for them. Three in five say the Conservatives have been having a bad campaign – and this perception has become more common as the campaign has gone on. Indeed, the Conservatives could see their lowest ever vote share in Scotland if they do not perform better at the ballot box than recent polls have indicated.

But there is still time for voters’ intentions to change up until the point when they put pencil to ballot paper. Indeed, last-minute swing looks a little more likely at this General Election than it did in 2019, with more than one in three voters saying they may still change their mind about which party to vote for. In an election where over a third of Scottish seats are marginals, every day still counts for the political parties in Scotland.

Emily Gray is managing director of Ipsos Scotland.