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Support for SNP and Scottish independence drops amid trans row

Support for Scottish independence, the SNP and Nicola Sturgeon have all dropped sharply amid criticism over the “fiasco” in the party’s approach to trans rights.

A YouGov poll showed that support for the SNP in Holyrood elections has fallen to its lowest level in five years, while voting intentions for the Westminster elections are their worst since 2019.

The poll showed that Ms Sturgeon’s personal approval rating also slipped into negative territory – from 7 per cent in October to minus 4 per cent.

Meanwhile, support for Scottish independence dropped from 53 per cent to 47 per cent, the lowest level since last spring.

The poll results come as a former SNP deputy leader said the gender reform bill, which would have made it easier for Scots to change gender, would be Ms Sturgeon’s equivalent of Margaret Thatcher’s disastrous “poll tax”.

Jim Sillars told the Sunday Times: “The foundation of our case for independence – that we could do things better on our own – is being undermined by this gender fiasco.”

Ms Sturgeon threatened legal action after the prime minister confirmed Westminster would block her controversial gender identity legislation from becoming law.

Referring to the case of Isla Bryson – a 31-year-old trans woman who was last month convicted at the High Court in Glasgow of raping two women – Mr Sillars added: “predatory males, if the bill becomes law, can manipulate it to invade women’s safe spaces. The recent rapist case will not be the only one that will haunt her”.

Awaiting sentence, Ms Bryson was initially held at Cornton Vale, a women’s prison near Stirling. Following widespread public outcry, she was transferred to HMP Edinburgh.

The Scottish government then declared a moratorium on the placement of male-bodied sex offenders in women’s prisons.

Ms Sturgeon said earlier this week that it is “almost certainly” the case that Bryson is not truly transgender – agreeing that she is only claiming to be so as “an easy way out”.

The YouGov poll commissioned by the Sunday Times found that support for the SNP in the next Holyrood election has fallen from 50 per cent to 44 per cent when it comes to the constituency vote.

Responding, SNP MP Joanna Cherry, a critic of Ms Sturgeon’s legislation, tweeted: “It’s time to admit that feminist criticisms of self-ID and the GRR 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.”

Ms Sturgeon has said she plans to run the next UK general election as a “de-facto referendum” on Scottish independence.

But commenting on the survey results, polling expert Prof Sir John Curtice said the “issue of transgender prisoners” had taken a toll on support for the SNP.

Sir John said: “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.”