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

The latest Scottish polls are weird to say the least.

Initially, matters seem pretty bad for the SNP. But dig beneath the surface and there’s hope for the Scottish Government… for the time being anyway.

First, let’s look at what’s happening at Westminster. The bottom line is: it’s a tie between the SNP and Labour at the next General Election, with both taking 35% of votes. That sees the SNP falling by two percent, and Labour rising by one. It’s the dreaded ‘cross-over moment’ for Humza Yousaf, when rising Labour support and falling SNP support meet on the charts.

Conservatives are down two points to 15%, LibDems up one to 8%, and Greens up two to 4%. Significantly, that’s a good result for the Greens: they’re rising despite the endless negativity, attacks and press hostility.

So far, so dreadful for the SNP. However, the same poll – carried out by Redfield and Wilton over last weekend – seems, if analysis is correct, to predict a Yes majority being maintained pretty decently at the next Holyrood election in 2026.

When it comes to the constituency vote, the SNP actually extend their lead over Labour to nine points, rising three points to 39%. Labour have fallen by two points to 30%. The Tories are down three to 16%, LibDems remain static on 8%, and the Greens rise again, by one point to 3%. 

The regional list brings the SNP more pain, however. Labour flatlines on 30%, with the SNP trailing behind, down four points to 25%. The Greens though jump significantly to 14%. The last Redfield and Wilton poll in early August had Greens on 9%, in July it was 8%.

Once numbers are crunched, seat estimates for the next Scottish Parliament come out like this: SNP on 55 seats (down nine), Labour on 35 (up 13), Conservatives on 16 (down 15), LibDems on eight (up four), and the Greens getting a real boost with 15 seats, that’s up seven.

Currently, the SNP and Greens have 71 seats at Holyrood between them. If predictions are right – and crucially hold – in 2026, the SNP and Greens would have 70 seats. Given the utter chaos that the SNP has found itself in since Nicola Sturgeon resigned – as well as the anti-Green hatefest that’s been on-going – this makes for a pretty remarkable outcome.

The Herald:

The findings seem to mirror similar results from a YouGov poll in mid-August. Seat projections then, from pollster Professor John Curtice, had the SNP on 57 seats and Greens on 10, retaining the Yes majority.

So what’s going on? Evidently, polls can be wrong, and we’re still nearly three years away from the next Holyrood election, but it appears Scots voters are highly sophisticated. It seems that getting the Tories out at Westminster matters much more than voting on constitutional grounds for the SNP.

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However, when it comes to who governs Scotland, it looks like Sir Keir Starmer’s ‘Tory-lite’ approach to woo English Red Wall seats is a real turn-off here.

Voters have clearly separated out what matters to them. This should seriously worry Anas Sarwar. What Labour offers in England ain’t cutting it enough with possible swing voters in Scotland.

Yousaf needs to hope that the fates keep polls as they are. It’s pretty unlikely, though, given the long lead in time to the next Holyrood vote. But for Sarwar, it’s not fate he needs to depend on, but Starmer, and Starmer doesn’t have a clue what Scotland wants.

Finally, it’s clear the Bute House Agreement is essential to SNP fortunes now, leaving Yousaf room to put some obstreperous rebels in their place.

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