Yousaf faces ‘full in-tray’ as half of Scots think country on wrong path

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Half of Scots think the country is heading in the wrong direction, a poll has found, as Nicola Sturgeon’s more than eight-year rule as first minister came to an end.

MSPs are expected to back Humza Yousaf to be Scotland’s sixth first minister after he was named the new leader of the SNP at the end of an almost six-week campaign to succeed Ms Sturgeon.

But ahead of the Holyrood vote on Tuesday a poll by Ipsos found half of adults north of the border felt things in Scotland were going in the wrong direction, with just a quarter saying the country was on the right path.

Across all the policy areas asked about – from the NHS to managing the economy – more felt the Scottish Government had done a bad job than felt they had done a good job.

First Ministers Questions
Humza Yousaf served as the Health Secretary in Nicola Sturgeon’s Government (Jane Barlow/PA)

“He takes office at a point when the Scottish public is feeling pretty gloomy about the direction of their country, and negative about the Scottish Government performance across a range of key areas,” she said.

“Addressing these challenges and turning around public perceptions, particularly on the NHS and cost of living, will no doubt feature strongly on his first to-do list.”

Ipsos polled 1,023 people aged 16 and older between March 17 and 21.

While 50% said that generally speaking things were heading in the wrong direction and 25% felt they were going in the right direction, 19% said neither and 6% of respondents were unsure.

The first two figures were similar to those recorded in Ipsos polls in October 2022 and January 2023.

As in earlier polls, SNP voters were more optimistic about Scotland’s direction. Some 37% of those who picked the SNP on their 2021 Holyrood constituency vote said things were going in the right direction.

Scottish National Party leadership election
Humza Yousaf beat Kate Forbes, centre, and Ash Regan to be named leader of the SNP (Craig Brough/PA)

People north of the border were particularly negative about how good a job the Scottish Government has done of improving the NHS.

Some 53% told pollsters it had done a bad job, while 23% said it had done a good job, a net rating of minus 30.

A negative net rating means more people than not think the Government is doing a bad job, while a positive rank means the opposite.

On improving people’s own standards of living, 45% said it had done a bad job, while 21% said it had done a good job, a rating of minus 24.

On improving living standards for people on low incomes, 27% said the Government had done a good job while 45% said it had done a bad job, a net of minus 18.

Asked about managing Scotland’s economy, 30% said it had done a good job and 46% said it had done a bad job, giving a net minus 16.

On improving the education system, 26% felt the Scottish Government had done a good job while 45% felt it had done a bad job – a net score of minus 19.

Ipsos said the ratings were very similar to polls in March 2022 and January 2023.

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