DESPITE the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon being the most popular among Scottish voters, they still do not favour independence, according to a new poll.

Research conducted for The Herald by BMG found that the First Minister had the highest approval rating of any party leader in the UK, with 50 per cent of people saying they were satisfied with the job she was doing.

The question of independence, however, is still tightly tied with a slight majority (53%) saying they did not want Scotland to leave the UK, and 47% saying they did.

BMG surveyed 1012 Scottish voters over the age of 16 between March 25 and 31 for the poll, which also asked about how people would be likely to vote in a general election, and how they felt about EU membership.

While half of respondents said they were satisfied with Ms Sturgeon, 34% said they were unhappy with her leadership. Anas Sarwar, leader of Scottish Labour was the only other politician whose satisfaction rating (26%) was higher than dissatisfaction (23%).

Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives had the highest dissatisfaction of all party leaders, with 44% of respondents saying they were not pleased with his leadership, compared to 17% who said they were satisfied.

Leader of the UK Labour party, Sir Keir Starmer, had a satisfaction rating of 27% and dissatisfaction of 28%.

Asked how they would vote in a General Election if one was held tomorrow, 42% of respondents said the SNP, followed by Labour on 26%, the Conservatives on 19%, LibDems on 6% and the Greens on 4%.

Just 1% of Scots said they would back Reform UK - formerly the Brexit party - while the other 1% said they would support another party.

The poll also revealed that Scots are still in favour of joining the EU, despite Brexit having taken place two years ago.

Asked if the UK should join the European Union, 65% said yes and 35% said no.

This is a increase in the number of people who supported remaining in the EU in the original Brexit vote, with 62% of Scots voting to remain and 38% voting to leave back in 2016.

Robert Struthers, Head of Polling at BMG said: “Our polling shows tentative signs of a slight dip in support for the SNP. However, it remains to be seen whether this trend will be borne out over time.

“Although still comfortably the most popular political party in Scotland, if you compare results to that of one year ago, the SNP's support has fallen back somewhat. Looking at general election voting intentions, our polling suggests support has fallen back by some 6 percentage points in the space of a year - figures that might make some in the SNP a little nervous.”

He added that the findings would “put a spring in Anas Sarwar’s step” as they were “indicative of a slow but steady reversal of Labour's recent fortunes in Scotland, up around 6 points on a year ago when looking at support at a Westminster level.”

SNP Deputy Leader, Keith Brown said: "Poll after poll shows the people of Scotland trust and support the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon – a party and First Minister doing everything possible with Holyrood’s current powers to support them in especially challenging times.

"In contrast, it’s not hard to see why the Tories and Labour are doing so badly - their arrogant denial of Scottish democracy and prioritising of the ever growing corrupt Westminster system, means they grow more and more out-of-touch with the people of Scotland with each day that passes.

"The people of Scotland know they deserve better than the damaging impact of Westminster control and how it is failing families across the country - especially at the moment, with a UK Government not remotely stepping up to protect households facing a cost of living crisis. A vote for the SNP on May 5th is an opportunity to send a message that Scotland demands better than Boris Johnson and the broken Westminster system."

A Scottish Conservatives spokesman said: "We heard predictions last year that Labour would overtake us. We ended up winning 100,000 more votes while Labour went backwards again, just as they have at every Holyrood election. We're confident that the same pattern will happen again this year. 

"In local by-elections since last May, we're only a few hundred votes behind the SNP, while Labour trail in a very distant third.

"The Scottish Conservatives are the only party strong enough to beat the SNP in councils all over Scotland and deliver on people's local priorities."


Source Note: BMG Research interviewed a representative sample of 1,012 Scottish adults online between 25th & 31st March. Data are weighted. BMG are members of the British Polling Council and abide by their rules.