London – 26 February – Health and education are the two top issues for Scottish voters in the May general election, even though these issues are substantially under the control of Holyrood rather than Westminster, according to the latest poll by TNS.

The survey of 1001 voters in Scotland also found that the SNP is maintaining its lead among those who are certain to vote and who express a preference, and that constitutional issues are well down the list of issues that voters in Scotland consider to be important.

In the poll, 68% said healthcare/the NHS was “very important” in their voting decision, while 50% cited education/schools.

Tom Costley, Head of TNS in Scotland, said: “Clearly health and education are important UK-wide issues, and the referendum campaign last year highlighted knock-on effects from Westminster measures on devolved areas.

Both SNP and Labour voters regarded health as being very important issues, mentioned by 72% and 75% respectively. However, SNP voters were more likely to cite education as an important issue than Labour voters – 57% compared to 46%.

Other major issues for voters are employment/jobs (47%), pensions (43%), taxes (38%), housing (35%), economic management (32%) and energy costs (32%). Immigration and benefits, which are often cited as key issues in UK-wide polls, appear to be less significant in Scotland, both mentioned by 28%.

SNP voters are more likely to mention economy and tax issues, while Labour voters are more likely to mention pensions.

With reference back to the independence referendum last September, a quarter of voters say that devolution of further powers to the Scottish Parliament is important to them and 24% mention independence. Interest among Labour voters trails the SNP (16% vs 48%) in spite of the strong campaigning on the devolution issue by Labour in Scotland.

“It is perhaps less surprising that few Labour voters see independence as a big issue,” said Tom Costley – this issue is mentioned by 11% of Labour voters compared to 53% of SNP supporters. “It may be that Labour voters regard the issue as having been settled by the No vote in the referendum.

A majority of voters (61%) say they are certain to vote in the election, including 74% of both those intending to vote Labour and those backing the SNP.

TNS analysed the polling data to focus on those who both say that they are certain to vote and express support for a party – 44% of those interviewed.

Among this key group of voters, 46% back the SNP (41% last month), 30% Labour (31), 14% Conservative (16%), 3% Liberal Democrat (4%), 45% Green (6%) and 3% UKIP (2%).

Tom Costley said: “It is worth noting that a quarter of those who indicate they are certain to vote are undecided as to which party to support.”

Notes for editors

The full data tables are available here.

  • A sample of 1,001 adults aged 18+ was interviewed across Scotland over the period 30 January to 22 February 2015.
  • To ensure the sample was representative of the adult population of Scotland (aged 18+), it was weighted to match population profile estimates in the analysis.  Data was also weighted to match turnout and share of vote from the 2010 General Election (as recorded in House of Commons Library Research Paper 10/36 18 May 2010), and turnout and share of constituency vote from the 2011 Holyrood election (as recorded in SPICe Briefing 11-29 2011 Scottish Parliament Election Results)
  • The full question wording is shown on the data tables.
  • All interviews were conducted face-to-face, in-home using CAPI (Computer Assisted Personal Interviewing) and quota sampling.

About TNS
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