The Institute for Public Policy Research has published another paper on the implications of devolution for England. This one surveys public attitudes, and is by John Curtice of Strathclyde University who draws on the British Social Attitudes survey for the data. The paper is available from the IPPR website here, and their press release (recycled more or less intact by umpteen newspapers) is here.
While it does not identify many significant changes in public opinion over the last decade or so (for example, in identification of people as ‘English’ rather than ‘British’), there are two interesting developments. One is growth in support for distinctive recognition of England as a unit of government – indicated by a decline in support of the status quo, and an increase in support for an English parliament. (Questions about ‘English votes for English laws’ don’t appear to have been put – though that option has been adopted as one of the POWER 2010 recommendations for constitutional reform.) The other is an increasing view that the financial arrangements for devolution are unduly generous to Scotland – now supported by 40 per cent of respondents, compared with 21 per cent in 2000 (and with a decline of 12 per cent in those thinking they are ‘pretty much fair’).
It may be an exaggeration to describe this as an ‘English backlash’, but it does indicate an increasing concern within England about the implications of the UK’s new territorial political arrangements.
John Denham, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government (an England-only ministry in all but name) is giving a speech in Westminster tonight on English issues. It will be interesting to see what he has to say.
UPDATE: Denham’s speech is now available from the Smith Institute’s website here.