THE UK’s top political analyst and pollster has forecast that the dramatic resignation of Derek Mackay will not negatively impact on the SNP’s popularity or electoral fortunes.

Sir John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, pointed to a Panelbase poll carried out for ScotGoesPop! earlier this week. The poll put the SNP at 50% for voting intentions among Scots for next year’s Holyrood election and noted their success at the General Election in December when the party won 48 out of the country’s 59 seats to underline the party’s popularity.

Asked if the Mackay resignation would damage the party’s standing, he said: “The SNP are at 50% in the polls, they are not in actual trouble. And they’ve just done extraordinarily well again in the General Election.”

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However, he went on to suggest Mackay’s resignation should act as a wake-up call to the First Minister, stressing a need to get more on the front foot in terms of service delivery in education and health. He also advised her to take stock of her leadership style which others have previously described as “presidential”. He said: “This is a Government that is struggling to deliver on various aspects of the public services. It is not unique in that respect, but the promises that were made on education by the First Minister were very bold ones.

“[Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary] John Swinney is a highly competent minister but is struggling to deal with some of this. Funding of the health service is also a difficult issue. When a party is in office for more than 12 years, things begin to catch up on it.

“So [the challenge for] Nicola is to find a couple of bright, clever new ministers who will make a public impression. The focus is very much on her and I think a really good leader who is confident of their own abilities will promote their potential successor ... my advice would be see [if you can spot] someone who you think might be a potential first minister.”

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Asked about Joanna Cherry, he said: “I have looked at some of the SNP people at Westminster and they seem to have a higher public profile than many Scottish Government Ministers ... Joanna Cherry has a name for herself because of her role over Brexit.”