Ipsos poll

Sturgeon exit hits indy case as Forbes takes lead

Kate Forbes
Frontrunner: Kate Forbes (pic: Terry Murden)

More than half of the public (54%) and SNP voters (51%) say that Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation will have a negative impact on the case for Scottish independence.

The figures emerge in a new poll which has installed Kate Forbes as the favourite to succeed the outgoing party leader.

The Ipsos survey of 1,513 adults, conducted on the day after Ms Sturgeon announced her resignation, found that 31% believed that Ms Forbes, the Finance Secretary, would do a good job. However, a third (32%) said they don’t know who she is.

Ms Forbes maintains her lead among 2019 SNP voters, of whom 44%, she would be the ideal new leader and First Minister.

There is concern, however, that she may be a divisive figure. Her faith as an active member of the Free Church of Scotland put her at odds with Ms Sturgeon over the gender recognition law.

She had signed a letter urging a delay to the legislation, which will allow 16-year-olds to change gender. Ms Forbes was absent on maternity leave when the legislation was pushed through parliament.

There is talk that she may want to review the partnership with the Greens who also opposed the freeports whose establishment in Scotland were a result of negotiations in which Ms Forbes played a key role.

The poll indicated that John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister, shared the same level of support as Ms Forbes and he polled the highest of any potential candidate among 2019 SNP voters, with 47%.

However, he has since indicated he will not stand and is expected to support the health secretary, Humza Yousaf whom 20% said would do a good job, while 37% thought he would do a bad job.

Joanna Cherry and Stephen Flynn, who were among others polled, have since ruled themselves out.

Three in five (61%) said that Ms Sturgeon’s resignation will have a negative impact on the SNP, while just 19% said it will have a positive impact.

The pattern is similar among 2019 SNP voters, with 61% thinking her resignation will have a negative impact on the party and 17% that it will have a positive impact. 

Reflecting on Nicola Sturgeon’s time as First Minister, three in five believe she has changed Scotland for the better (59%), against a third who say for the worse (31%). Fewer than one in ten (8%) think she has made no difference.

Meanwhile, opinion is split on Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar who three in ten think would do a good job (30%) but a similar proportion say a bad job (29%).

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross received unfavourable reaction with three in five (58%) thinking would do a bad job, against only 14% believing he would do a good job.

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