Nicola Sturgeon’s popularity has taken a drastic hit since the height of the pandemic – but she remains far ahead of her rivals, according to a new poll.
A YouGov poll shows the first minister’s approval ratings fell almost 40 points since August last year when it was +50.
It comes after the SNP leader revealed she had “no intention of going anywhere” and was determined to lead the country until the end of this parliament in 2026.
However, Ms Sturgeon remains the most popular leader in Scotland and the only one to achieve a positive rating.
It is thought her government’s domestic record on health and education could be behind her popularity halving.
Writing in The Times, Professor Sir John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, said the first minister “is at risk of looking like a politician stuck in second gear” despite the SNP’s electoral popularity.
He said: “While she may still be Scotland’s most popular politician (albeit not as popular as earlier in the pandemic) who leads by far and away Scotland’s most popular party (albeit one dependent on the Greens for its Holyrood majority), there is little sense of progress towards its ultimate goal of independence.”
YouGov’s research also found independence has slipped to eight in the list of voters’ priorities, with fewer than one third of SNP voters (28%) seeing it as a key objective of the Scottish Government.
The poll suggests 40% of people say they would vote yes in another referendum, a drop of one point compared with the company’s last survey in May.
Tory sleaze allegations
Boris Johnson has a rating of -62, a 17-point decline, as allegations of sleaze mount against the prime minister and his government.
Douglas Ross, leader of the Scottish Conservatives, had the smallest drop of any leader at four points, but his popularity remains negative at -38.
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar saw the largest individual fall in any leader’s popularity, dropping 21 points to -1.
The poll shows Labour is poised to displace Tories as the main opposition at Holyrood, with sleaze allegations appearing to hit the Conservatives popularity.
In an interview with the BBC on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon said rumours she was looking for a way out of frontline politics were “wishful thinking” by her opponents.
Rumours circulated about when the first minister might leave politics after she said that she and her hsuband – SNP chief executive – may foster children in the future in an interview with Vogue magazine last month.