Sturgeon told to ‘eat some humble pie’ as support plummets

Nicola Sturgeon discusses Isla Bryson case

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Nicola Sturgeon has been told to “eat some humble pie” after a new poll showed support for the Scottish First Minister, the SNP and independence has plummeted in the wake of the row over gender reforms. The YouGov survey of 1,088 Scottish voters from January 23 to January 26 shows backing for the party dropped from 50 percent to 44 percent in the Holyrood constituency vote and from 40 percent to 36 percent in the regional list when compared to December.

SNP support at Westminster has also fallen from 43 percent to 42 percent.

Meanwhile, backing for Scottish independence was down from 53 percent to 47 percent among decided voters.

And Ms Sturgeon’s net approval rating has dipped from 7 percent in October to minus four percent – the lowest since she became Scottish First Minister in 2014.

The polling comes after controversy over the Scottish Government’s Gender Bill, which aims to make it easier for people in Scotland to change their legally recognised gender.

The proposals were passed by a majority of MSPs in December but blocked by the UK Government due to concerns they would interfere with UK-wide equality laws.

Meanwhile, a row has been raging over the imprisonment of double rapist Isla Bryson.

Bryson, who committed two rapes while she was a man, was initially housed in segregation at Cornton Vale near Stirling – Scotland’s only all-female prison – before being moved to the male estate after public and political outcry.

The saga led to Scottish Justice Secretary Keith Brown pausing the movement of transgender prisoners into women’s jails if they have a history of violence.

Professor John Curtice, of Strathclyde University, told the Sunday Times: “While the decline in support for independence is likely to be part of the explanation, it looks as though the battering the Scottish Government has suffered, especially on the issue of transgender prisoners, may also have taken its toll on SNP support.”

Reacting to the poll, SNP MP Joanna Cherry called on Ms Sturgeon to back down over the gender proposals.

She said: “It’s time to admit that feminist criticisms of self-ID and the Gender Recognition Reform Bill were right, eat some humble pie and sort this mess out before it does any more damage to the reputation of our party, parliament and the cause of Scotland’s independence.”

But one of Ms Sturgeon’s senior ministers, Shirley-Anne Somerville, yesterday suggested rebels should “question” if they want to stay in the party at the next election.

The Scottish Conservatives blamed the poll slump on the Gender Bill and the SNP leader’s “relentless obsession” with a second independence referendum.

A Scottish Tory spokesman said: “This poll suggests that Scots are tired of Nicola Sturgeon’s arrogant dismissal of their legitimate concerns over her flawed self-ID bill coupled with her relentless obsession with independence.”

The SNP’s deputy leader Keith Brown said: “While we take nothing for granted, this poll suggests that the SNP remains by far the most popular party in Scotland, and Nicola Sturgeon is by far the most popular leader.

“Scotland is an enormously wealthy, resource-rich country – but under Westminster control, we face being part of the worst performing economy in the developed world, with Brexit an unfolding a disaster that is making us all poorer.

“The fact that Keir Starmer’s Labour Party is now fully signed up to the Tory hard Brexit – and indeed backs their refusal to respect Scotland’s right to determine its own future – shows why independence for Scotland is now essential.

“Independence will mean a proper partnership of equals between Scotland and the rest of the UK instead of ever-tightening Westminster control.”

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