THE SNP is on course to win a third successive term in power next year, despite some voters viewing the party’s performance in key areas of government as “poor”, a new poll has found.
Almost two-thirds – or 62 per cent – of those who expressed a party preference said they were planning to vote SNP in the constituency section for the 2016 Holyrood election, up two points from the previous month, according to the survey by TNS.
A total of 54 per cent of the 1029 Scots aged over 16 who were interviewed said they would vote for Nicola Sturgeon’s party in the regional list section of the ballot, an increase of three points. Polling, which was carried out between July 10 and August 3, gives the SNP a massive 42-point lead over Labour in the constituency ballot after its support remained unchanged at 20 per cent.
That level of support would give the SNP a third election win in a row, the first time a party had ever achieved such a series of successive victories under Scottish devolution, if it was replicated in May 2016.
The SNP leadership hailed the findings as further evidence of the “extraordinary levels” of support for the Nationalists, who are now the third biggest party at Westminster.
But the surge in SNP support came despite widespread scepticism among the electorate about how well the party is governing Scotland. On key areas such as the economy, crime and justice and the NHS, the poll found just a third of Scots said the SNP government is doing a good job.
Almost three out of ten (29 per cent) people ranked the government’s performance as “poor” on both health and crime and justice, with a third (34 per cent) and less than a quarter (23 per cent) believing ministers are doing a good job in these areas respectively.
Almost a fifth (19 per cent) of voters are unhappy with how the government has dealt with education, compared with 30 per cent who ranked performance as “good”.
Opposition parties at Holyrood said the findings highlighted deep-rooted public concerns about the SNP’s record on delivering public services.
Scottish Labour’s acting leader, Iain Gray, said: “The road back for Scottish Labour is going to be a long and difficult one. There can be no quick fix. With a new leader to be announced on Saturday we will spend the coming weeks and months seeking to win back the trust of the people of Scotland.”
SNP business convener Derek Mackay said the polling showed the government had remained popular after more than eight years in power.
He added: “We take absolutely nothing for granted, and will keep working hard every day between now and next year’s Holyrood election to retain the trust of people right across Scotland.”