Poll: Nicola Sturgeon to win independence 'super-majority' without Alex Salmond's help

Simon Johnson
·4-min read
Nicola Sturgeon with Alex Salmond on the 2015 general election trail - Reuters
Nicola Sturgeon with Alex Salmond on the 2015 general election trail - Reuters

Nicola Sturgeon is on course to win an independence "super-majority" in next month's Holyrood election without Alex Salmond's new party getting a seat, according to a poll that delivered a boost to her campaign to break up Britain.

The Ipsos Mori poll for STV News predicted the SNP will return 70 of the 129 MSPs, giving Ms Sturgeon a majority of 11, while the pro-separation Scottish Greens would return a record 11 MSPs.

Although Mr Salmond's Alba Party would fail to win a seat, the Holyrood chamber would still contain a large majority of pro-separation MSPs, increasing pressure on Boris Johnson to drop his opposition to another separation referendum.

Ms Sturgeon has said she wants to stage another separation vote by the end of 2023, after world leaders have stopped announcing mass Covid deaths on a daily basis but during Scotland's recovery from the pandemic.

The poll also showed that the issue of independence was the most important when voters decided which party to support (49 per cent). This was followed by education (28 per cent), the NHS (27 per cent), the economy (16 per cent) and Covid (15 per cent).

Support for separation was the same as when the pollster conducted its previous survey in February, with 52 per cent support and 48 per cent opposition.

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While 62 per cent said they were satisfied with Ms Sturgeon's performance as First Minister, only nine per cent expressed approval of Mr Salmond and 27 per cent of Boris Johnson. Almost two-thirds of voters (64 per cent) said they were dissatisfied with both men.

The poll was the third to feature Mr Salmond's Alba Party, with two giving it three per cent support and no seats and one six per cent backing and six seats.

Mr Salmond has said he wants to manipulate Holyrood's complicated electoral system to deliver a "super-majority" for independence, with nationalists voting SNP in their constituencies and for his party on the regional list.

The SNP won 59 out of 73 constituencies in the 2016 election but only four on the regional list, which assigns seats to parties using a complicated form of proportional representation that deducts constituency wins.

But Emily Gray, managing director of Ipsos Mori, said the independence 'super-majority' " may come from an uplift in support for the Scottish Greens on the regional vote rather than for the Alba Party."

She added: "The Alba Party’s main impact to date may have been to remind pro-independence voters of how to use their regional vote tactically.”

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The new poll gave the SNP 53 per cent on the constituency vote, the Tories 20 per cent, Labour 18 per cent and the Liberal Democrats six per cent.

On the regional list, the SNP's support had declined nine points to 38 per cent, with the Tories on 21 per cent, Labour 18 per cent, the Greens 12 per cent, the Lib Dems six per cent and Alba three per cent.

A seat projection put the SNP on 70, but the Tories losing seven seats with 24 and Labour down five seats to 19. The Lib Dems would get four seats, down one on the 2016 election. Ipsos MORI conducted telephone interviews between March 29 and April 4.

Alex Salmond's new Alba Party is projected not to win a seat - PA
Alex Salmond's new Alba Party is projected not to win a seat - PA

Ms Sturgeon tweeted: "Great polling for theSNP - but it’s votes in ballot boxes that count. For experienced Covid leadership, strong policies to drive recovery, and the choice of independence when the crisis has passed."

Mr Salmond said all the three polls so far have shown "identifiable support" for the Alba Party and as "name recognition gets across we will gain further ground."

He added: "The opportunity is there to build the super-majority for independence at Holyrood. Alba's aim is to be part of that process.”

Lorna Slater, the Scottish Greens' co-leader, said: "This poll tells us that the Scottish Greens are set to have a record number of MSPs in Holyrood and could yet play a crucial role in securing a pro-independence majority in May."