Scottish election: Alex Salmond’s Alba Party could deny Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP a majority, new poll shows

The poll finds voters to be dead-split on independence, and that Alex Salmond is the least popular leader in British politics

Scottish election: Alex Salmond’s Alba Party could deny Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP a majority, new poll shows (Photos: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images & Andy Buchanan- Pool/Getty Images)

Alex Salmond’s Alba Party could deny the SNP a majority in next month’s Scottish parliamentary elections, according to a new poll.

A poll carried out by Savanta ComRes for The Scotsman shows that the SNP are on course to fall one MSP short of a majority, with 64.

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The poll also found that the question of independence is still an evenly divided one among voters, with Yes and No both polling 45 per cent, and 9 per cent undecided.

The election does look set to demonstrate a clear pro-independence majority overall though, according to the poll, with an additional 10 Scottish Green MSPs set to take seats in Holyrood.

What does the poll say?

While its dominance of Scottish politics looks set to continue, ructions in the SNP and the arrival of Mr Salmond’s new party could see them fall just short of a Holyrood majority.

The poll found that around six per cent of 2016 SNP voters will back the Alba Party in May, while four per cent of voters planning on voting SNP in this election say they will follow a vote for Nicola Sturgeon’s party at the constituency level with one for Mr Salmond’s on the regional list.

While the Alba Party may do enough to deprive Nicola Sturgeon’s party of a majority, it is only predicted to pick up three per cent of the list vote, and no MSPs.

Part of their difficulty in cutting through may be that Salmond has the lowest net approval rating in British politics, at 23 points lower than Boris Johnson, on -51 per cent.

A significant majority of voters believe him to be untrustworthy (67 per cent), disingenuous (66 per cent) and unfit for public office (63 per cent).

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The Scottish Conservatives look set to drop six seats, leaving them with 25 MSPs, due to a three point decrease in the list vote.

The poll suggests that the new leader of Scottish Labour has much more to do to win the kind of support the party once enjoyed.

Despite strong personal ratings, Anas Sarwar’s party is predicted to see a small drop in the constituency vote, from 20 to 18 per cent, while the party’s support in the regional list remains at 18.

This would lead to Scottish Labour returning just 23 MSPs, down one from 2016.

The Scottish Greens are set to send a record 10 MSPs to Holyrood to bolster the overall majority for independence, with a predicted regional list vote share of 9 per cent.

Savanta ComRes polled 1,007 adults aged 16 and over between 2 April and 7 April 2021.

Simon Cereda, a senior consultant at Savanta ComRes said the emergence of the Alba Party and any SNP votes lost to it “may prove costly”.

He said: “The latest data from Savanta ComRes for The Scotsman shows how tight it will be for the SNP to achieve their hoped for majority in May. Votes lost to Alex Salmond’s Alba Party, even the small numbers we are picking up, may prove costly.

"Despite Alex Salmond clocking some of the worst personal ratings in UK politics, his core loyalists may yet deprive Nicola Sturgeon of Holyrood control. In addition, a strong showing from the Scottish Greens may also be a blow to the SNP’s ambitions.

"Elsewhere, despite Anas Sarwar’s leadership making a positive start, Scottish Labour look unlikely at present to translate that into electoral gains. Positive personal approval ratings will mean nothing to Anas Sarwar unless he can stop his party ceding ground in Holyrood.”

For the best coverage of the Scottish Election visit scotsman.com and listen to their new politics podcast, The Steamie.