New research by Ipsos, taken 30th January to 1st February, finds that:
Views of party leaders
Public perceptions of Nicola Sturgeon have fallen since October, while Rishi Sunak is viewed unfavourably by a majority of the Scottish public.
While 43% of the public have a favourable opinion of Nicola Sturgeon, an identical proportion – 43% - have an unfavourable one. This gives her a neutral ‘net’ favourability score (the proportion favourable minus the proportion unfavourable). This is down from the positive net score of +8 recorded in October 2022.
- 60% of Scots have an unfavourable opinion of Rishi Sunak, with just 18% favourable. His favourability among Scots is at a similar level now to August 2022, when he ran against Liz Truss for the Conservative Party leadership.
- Douglas Ross has a similarly low ‘net’ favourability rating – just 15% are favourable towards the Scottish Conservative leader, with 56% unfavourable
- Opinion on both Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and UK Labour leader Keir Starmer is more evenly split, with around a third favourable, a third unfavourable, and a third neither favourable nor unfavourable or unsure.
Direction of the country
A majority of Scots remain pessimistic about the direction the country is going in – 51% say things in Scotland are heading in the wrong direction, with just 27% feeling it is heading in the right direction. These figures are very similar to those recorded in October 2022. SNP voters are the most optimistic group – 44% of those who voted SNP in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election felt things in Scotland were heading in the right direction, compared with just 6% of those who voted Conservative and 17% of Labour voters.
Ratings of Scottish Government performance
Across a range of policy areas, more people think the Scottish Government has done a bad job since the 2021 Holyrood elections than think it has done a good job.
- The Scottish public has a particularly negative view of the Scottish Government’s efforts to improve the NHS in Scotland, with 53% saying it has done a bad job, while just 22% say it has done a good job.
- 44% think the Scottish Government has done a bad job of improving their own personal standard of living, with 21% saying it has done a good job. Slightly more people (29%) feel the Scottish Government has done a good job of improving living standards for people on low incomes. However, again a higher proportion (45%) say it has done a bad job of this.
- 47% say the Scottish Government has done a bad job of managing Scotland’s economy, vs. 28% who say it has done a good job.
- 44% say it has done a bad job of improving the education system in Scotland, vs 24% who say it has done a good job.
Attitudes to the UK Government’s blocking of the Gender Recognition bill
Half of Scots (50%) think the UK Government should have blocked the Gender Recognition bill, while a third (33%) say the UK Government should not have blocked the bill and 17% either don’t know or prefer not to say.
There are clear splits by age, with older people aged 55+ more likely to say the UK Government should have blocked the bill than younger people are. Young people aged 16-34 are split on this question – while 40% say the UK Government should have blocked the bill, a similar proportion (38%) say it should not have done so.
A significant minority of SNP voters think the UK Government should have blocked the bill; among those who voted SNP at the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections, half (52%) say the UK Government should not have blocked the bill, while 31% say the UK Government should have blocked it. Conservative voters overwhelmingly think the UK Government should have blocked the bill, with 89% saying it should have done this and 7% that it should not have.
Emily Gray, Managing Director of Ipsos in Scotland, said:
These findings highlight the choppy waters that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP find themselves in. While Nicola Sturgeon remains the most popular of the political leaders we asked about, her personal ratings have fallen. Public opinion of Scottish Government performance across a range of areas is not particularly favourable – particularly on the NHS, which has been the focus of much media attention and public concern of late. And on the Gender Recognition Bill, which has caused internal divisions within the SNP, these results suggest that the Scottish public is also divided, with half supporting the UK Government’s blocking of the bill from becoming law.
Notes to Editor
- Ipsos interviewed a representative quota sample of 1,087 adults aged 16+ in Scotland. Interviews took place online between 30th January and 1st February 2023. Data has been weighted to the known offline population proportions. Where results do not sum to 100%, this may be due to computer rounding, multiple responses, or the exclusion of “don’t know” categories. All polls are subject to a wide range of potential sources of error.