Campaign setback

Only 6% say Yousaf would outperform Sturgeon

SNP leadership contenders
Candidates: Kate Forbes, Humza Yousaf and Ash Regan

Only 6% of those responding to a new poll thought SNP leadership frontrunner Humza Yousaf would do a better job than outgoing First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.

This was even worse than the outsider Ash Regan on 8%, while 17% thought Kate Forbes would out-perform Ms Sturgeon.

The data emerges in a new poll showing support for Scottish independence has fallen just as voting begins to choose the next leader.

Those backing independence (Yes) fell to 46% , according to a YouGov poll for Sky News and to just 39% when those who answered “don’t know” are included.

Across all respondents, 52% of the public believed Scotland would still be part of the UK in 10 years’ time.

Finance Secretary Kate Forbes was shown to be the most popular of the three candidates, though only 27% thought she would be a good First Minister. Health Secretary Humza Yousaf was second with 22% and 14% thought positively towards Ash Regan.

The polling was evenly split on the performance of the Scottish government, with 44% saying it was doing a good job and 46% deeming its performance bad.

A significant majority (62%) thought the Scottish government was failing on the NHS, which may count agains Mr Yousaf.

Some commentators say the leadership campaign has damaged the public’s perception of the SNP which was seen to be divided in an explosive first TV debate among the three candidates.

The polling also indicates that the nationalist vote may be splitting between the SNP and the hardline Alba Party, led by Alex Salmond.

Alba has increased its share of the vote in the North East of Scotland to 6% which is high enough to see Mr Salmond returned to the Scottish Parliament. 

The YouGov poll had a sample size of 1,002 adults in Scotland and was conducted between 9 and 13 March.

The winner of the contest will be announced on 27 March.

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