IndyRef2: Sturgeon denies public enthusiasm has 'faded'

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Poll guru Sir John Curtice suggested the First Minister is beginning to look like a politician “stuck in second gear”. YouGov’s survey, published on Thursday, suggested Ms Sturgeon’s personal popularity rating has dropped by 40 points since August 2020, at the height of the coronavirus pandemic, and now sits at +12 percent.

To put the situation into perspective, she is the only party leader with a positive rating – and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson is on -62 percent, a 17 point drop.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar’s rating is now -1, an alarming 21-point fall.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross in on -38, down four points.

Significantly, despite Ms Sturgeon’s continued talk of a second independence referendum, the poll also suggested voters only regard the issue of Scottish independence as their eighth-biggest priority.

Excluding don’t knows, 53 percent backing staying in the Union compared with 47 percent favouring independence.

The poll, of 1060 adults aged 16, was based on interviews between November 18 and 22.

Writing in the Times, Sir John, Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, said: “There is no sign of any electoral challenge to the grip of the nationalist movement on the Holyrood chamber.

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“Meanwhile, the Conservatives are mired in sleaze, and the UK and Scottish leaders of the Conservative and the Labour Party have all sunk to record lows in voters’ estimation.

“And yet the First Minister is at risk of looking like a politician stuck in second gear.”

Sir John explained: “For 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.

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“The decline in support for independence registered earlier this year has not been reversed, leaving it short of the 50 per cent plus one required for referendum victory.”

Speaking to the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon confirmed her intention to serve out her term as First Minister.

Reports circulated about when the First Minister might leave politics after she said that she and her husband – SNP chief executive Peter Murrell – may foster children in the future in an interview with Vogue magazine last month.

However, asked if she could guarantee she would lead the SNP in the next Holyrood election, Ms Sturgeon replied: “I will fulfil the mandate I have been given to govern as First Minister for this term of the Scottish Parliament, I will set out my intentions.

“It’s almost as if my opponents can’t beat me, or remove me from office themselves, so they are kind of crossing their fingers in hoping I’ll remove myself from office.

“But they are going to be disappointed because I am going to be around a lot longer. And given how many Tory and Labour leaders have come and gone in my time as First Minister, perhaps a lot longer than them and a lot longer than they might wish me to be.”

Ms Sturgeon was re-elected in May after the SNP won the Scottish Parliament election. She has been serving as First Minister since 2014.

When asked about independence, Ms Sturgeon said the SNP “intend to take the steps” that enable a referendum to happen before the end of 2023.

She said she hoped the country would be out of the “acute” phase of the pandemic early next year to allow Scotland to return its focus to its future.

Ms Sturgeon added: “When Scotland is again contemplating the best future for the country, we are doing that not in the shadow of a pandemic that is taking and has taken too many lives, but as we are recovering from that and turning our minds to the positive optimistic task of how do we build a better country?

“That means for Scotland getting to choose who’s making these decisions, not having somebody like Boris Johnson imposed on us and deciding for ourselves.”

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