BARELY more than a quarter of Scots believe the UK is headed in the right direction, with a clear majority confident it is going the wrong way, according to a new poll.
Just 27 per cent of the Scottish sample of respondents to the latest survey by former Tory donor Lord Ashcroft said they believed the UK was on the "right track", compared to 55 who said it was going in the "wrong direction".
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Some 53 per cent of the 906 respondents rated the First Minister’s performance, which works out as a +11 per cent net approval rating.
Respondents were asked to rate politicians from one to 100, with zero as “terrible” and 100 as “excellent”.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale had a net approval rating of -41 per cent, with 20 per cent of respondents rating her above 50 and a further 61 per cent placing her below.
In Scotland, Scots Tory chief Ruth Davidson scored -21. However, she fared significantly better UK-wide, scoring an approval rating of 38.1. That same constituency gave the First Minister 32.4.
“This is an encouraging poll that once again shows that people trust the strong leadership of Nicola Sturgeon – while all of the most senior Tories remain deeply unpopular in Scotland,” said SNP MSP George Adam.
“People are now seeing the real Ruth Davidson, who has completely sold out over our single market membership, despite saying it was her ‘overriding priority’.
“By unilaterally deciding to tear Scotland out of the single market, the Tories have put their own narrow, party-political interests ahead of the interests of the country.
“It’s vital that the people of Scotland are given a choice between a damaging hard Brexit and becoming an independent country, something the Tories would deny them as the act like they can treat Scotland as they wish and get away with it.”
Scottish Conservative MSP John Lamont said it was “surprising to hear the SNP discussing polls when so many of them have shown that a clear majority of Scots are against their plans for a second independence referendum”.
The Tory chief whip added: “Ruth has been standing up for all of those in Scotland who do not want to be dragged back to the arguments of the past, and instead want to get on with getting the best possible deal out of Brexit.
“Ruth and the Scottish Conservatives will continue to fight for Scotland’s place in the United Kingdom, and to hold the SNP to account.
“With the SNP failing on health, education, and the Scottish economy, it’s time they got back to the day job rather than agitating for a unwanted second referendum.”
Lord Ashcroft, a former chairman of the Tory party, stood down in 2010, after falling out with then Prime Minister, David Cameron. The peer went on to become one of the fiercest critics of the coalition government.
He is the UK’s 74th richest man, and was one of the writers behind the Call Me Dave biography that insinuated Cameron had intimate relations with a pig.
For his “detailed look at the political landscape” the peer had pollsters talk to 10,000 people all over the UK, asking them about voting intentions and what they expected from Brexit.
Among the other conclusions from The data gathered suggested that Remain voters who backed Labour in 2015 could switch to the LibDems, while Leave voters would move to the Tories.
Lord Ashcroft wrote: “Theresa May had a 37-point lead over Jeremy Corbyn on the question of who would make the best Prime Minister. While nine out of ten Conservative voters chose May, only 38 per cent of 2015 Labour voters named Corbyn. Those who had voted Labour in at the election and Leave in the EU referendum preferred Theresa May by 40 per cent to 30 per cent.”
UK wide, Brexit was seen as the most important issue for the country as a whole by both Leave and Remain voters, however only 39 per cent of respondents said the EU negotiations were one of the top three issues for their families compared to the NHS (58 per cent) and the cost of living (53 per cent).
Tory voters were the most likely to stick with their party regardless of how they voted in the EU referendum.
A total of 10,153 adults across the UK were interviewed online between March 21 and 28 for the poll.