Satisfaction with Boris Johnson hits a new low as Scots feel the cost of living crisis bite

Prime Minister Boris Johnson's ratings among the Scottish public is at an all-time low according to our latest poll for STV News.

The author(s)

  • Dr. Emily Gray Managing Director, Scotland
  • Rachel Ormston Public Affairs, Scotland
  • Stefania Pagani Public Affairs, Scotland
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Ipsos’ Scottish Political Monitor, run in partnership with STV News, finds satisfaction with Boris Johnson’s performance at an all-time low – 83% are dissatisfied with his performance with just 12% satisfied.

59% of people in Scotland feel they are worse off than they were a year ago. And two thirds (64%) think they would be worse off in the future if Boris Johnson’s Conservatives win the next General Election.

The SNP remains the dominant party in Scotland – 44% of those likely to vote say they would vote for them in an immediate General Election. However, Labour is now in second place on vote share, at 23%, compared with 19% for the Conservatives.

Support for independence is finely balanced – 50% of likely voters would vote Yes, and 50% No.

General Election voting intention

The SNP remains clearly ahead in voting intentions – at 44%, the proportion of likely voters who would vote for them in an immediate General Election is almost identical to the 45% who did vote for them in December 2019.

However, at 23%, Labour’s support is higher than the 19% of the vote they achieved in 2019. It takes them into second place, ahead of the Conservatives on 19% (who are 6 points down on the 25% share of the vote they took in 2019).

Headline UK General Election voting intention figures for Scotland are:

  • SNP: 44% (-1 compared with the 2019 General Election results for Scotland)
  • Scottish Conservatives: 19% (-6)
  • Scottish Labour: 23% (+4)
  • Scottish Liberal Democrats: 10% (NC)
  • Scottish Green Party: 3% (+2)
  • Other: 2% (+1)

Top issues facing Scotland today

Key concerns for the Scottish public are inflation / the rising cost of living (30% mention this as an important issue facing Scotland, up 27 percentage points since November 2021), healthcare/ the NHS (27%, down 11 percentage points), education and schools (24%) and the economy (22%). The proportion seeing Scottish independence/ devolution as one of the most important issues facing Scotland today has fallen by 10 percentage points since last November, to 17%.

Cost of living

  • 59% of people in Scotland think they are worse off now than they were a year ago, in May 2021 (37% a little worse off, and 22% much worse off). Middle-aged people and those with children are most likely to say they are feeling the impacts of the cost-of-living squeeze – 69% of those aged 35-54 and 65% of those with children in the household feel they are worse off now.
  • 64% say they feel they will be worse off if Boris Johnson’s Conservatives win the next General Election, while just 11% think they will be better off.
  • In contrast, while 30% think they will be worse off if Keir Starmer’s Labour Party wins the next General Election, 31% think they will be better off (39% say they will be neither better nor worse off or are not sure).

Leader satisfaction

  • Nicola Sturgeon remains the leader with the highest satisfaction rating, with 53% saying they are satisfied with her performance as First Minister. However, satisfaction with her performance has fallen – from 58% in November 2021 and 62% in April 2021.  
  • Anas Sarwar has maintained his relatively high ratings – 46% are satisfied with his performance as Scottish Labour leader (in line with his figures in April and November 2021), while 27% are dissatisfied. However, 27% don’t know enough to rate him.
  • Keir Starmer’s performance divides opinion – 38% are satisfied with his performance as leader of the UK Labour Party, while 40% are dissatisfied (and 22% don’t know enough to say).
  • However, there is strong dissatisfaction with Boris Johnson – just 12% are satisfied with his performance, while 83% are dissatisfied. This is the lowest score yet recorded for the Prime Minister, following successive negative satisfaction ratings in Scotland.

Are you satisfied or dissatisfied with the way Boris Johnson is doing his job as Prime Minister? - Ipsos Scottish Public Opinion Monitor

Trust in the parties

After 15 years in government, the SNP remain the most trusted party across a range of issues:

  • 38% trust the SNP most to grow Scotland’s economy (Conservatives 18%, Labour 16%)
  • 37% trust the SNP most to manage the NHS in Scotland (Labour 20%, Conservatives 13%)
  • 36% trust the SNP most to manage education and schools in Scotland (Labour 19%, Conservatives 15%)
  • 33% trust the SNP most to tackle the cost of living crisis (Labour 20%, Conservatives 12%).

Independence

  • Support for independence is finely balanced. Among those likely to vote either Yes or No in an immediate referendum, 50% say they would vote Yes and 50% No. Yes support is down 5 percentage points on our November 2021 poll.
  • The public is also divided on the best time to hold another referendum – around a third (32%) support the SNP’s stated ambition of holding another referendum by the end of 2023, a third think it should be later than this (18% between 2024 and 2026, and 15% later than 2026), and around a third (31%) say that there should never be another referendum.

If a referendum were held tomorrow about Scotland’s constitutional future, how would you vote in response to the following question: Should Scotland be an independent country? Yes 50% No 50% - Ipsos May 2022

Emily Gray, Managing Director of Ipsos in Scotland, commented:

Boris Johnson has never received positive ratings in Scotland, but these latest Ipsos and STV News findings are a new low for the Prime Minister. Although the SNP continues to dominate voting intentions, there are tentative signs of a recovery for Scottish Labour, with continued positive ratings for Anas Sarwar, and Labour ahead of the Conservatives on Westminster voting intention. However, the scale of the challenge facing Labour is underlined by the fact that after 15 years in government the SNP remains the most trusted party across a wide range of policy areas. This includes the cost of living – which the public say is the most important issue facing Scotland at present.

Technical Note

  • Ipsos interviewed a representative sample of 1,000 adults aged 16+ across Scotland.
  • Interviews were conducted by telephone 23-29 May 2022.  
  • Data are weighted to the profile of the population.
  • 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. On the basis of the historical record of the polls at recent general elections, there is a 9 in 10 chance that the true value of a party’s support lies within 4 points of the estimates provided by this poll, and a 2 in 3 chance that they lie within 2 points.

The author(s)

  • Dr. Emily Gray Managing Director, Scotland
  • Rachel Ormston Public Affairs, Scotland
  • Stefania Pagani Public Affairs, Scotland

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