Category Archives: Public opinion

IPPR event on public attitudes about Englishness and English devolution

I’ve mentioned previously that IPPR have been leading some very interesting survey work about public attitudes to devolution and self-government in England.  The report based on that work is going to be published toward the end of January, titled ‘The English dog that finally barked: Understanding the new politics of Englishness’.  To mark the launch, there will be an event at IPPR’s offices on Buckingham Street, London WC2, with speakers including Richard Wyn Jones from Cardiff University and Mike Kenny from QMUL.  It will be at 2 pm on Thursday 26 January.

Further details about the seminar are available here, and those interested in attending should contact Guy Lodge at g.lodge@ippr.org to book a place.

UPDATE: I understand that John Denham MP and David Davis MP have also been invited to speak.

FURTHER UPDATE, 23 January: Those looking for the IPPR report on attitudes in England can download it from here.

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Filed under English questions, Events, Public opinion

Flags at ‘Proms in the Park’ – some sort of evidence about English identification, perhaps

Rather unexpectedly, I found myself at the ‘Proms in the Park’ event at Hyde Park in London on Saturday evening.  This is the Radio 2 version of the Last Night of the Proms – there’s a video link-up for the songs at the end, but otherwise a quite separate programme including Westlife, Russell Watson and Rolf Harris (who sang his version of ‘Stairway to Heaven’, I’m pleased to say).  The event in the park boasts a much bigger attendance – the hall can hold about 6,000 when full, while the enclosure at the park had over 30,000 in it, apparently.

What was interesting was the choice of flags being flown.  There was quite a range; a smattering of Scottish saltires, Welsh dragons and Irish tricolours, at least three Lions of Flanders, plus one Australian aboriginal flag and one Devon county flag.  Unsurprisingly, the Union flag dominated, but there were also a lot of St George’s crosses, far more than there would have been a decade ago.  My informal estimate – confirmed by one of my companions – was that the ratio was about 3:1.  Intriguing, especially as much of the singing is about Britain (‘Britons never being slaves’ and so forth) rather than England, if less scientific than a survey putting the ‘Moreno-Rose’ question.

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Filed under Culture, English questions, Public opinion

Polling support and a Scottish referendum

Friday brought two pieces of opinion polling regarding Scottish independence.  Neither could exactly be called authoritative, and both may well reflect the current febrile atmosphere more than anything else, but they’re important as indicators of aspects of the public mood.

One was a survey of Conservative party members by ConservativeHome, which is available here.  ConHome finds that its (wholly uncontrolled, it seems) slice of Conservative members think the various parts of the UK are stronger together than apart; that England is more likely to remain Tory if Scotland leaves the UK; and that Westminster should force the issue by holding a snap referendum.  It also finds an expectation that Scottish votes will vote for independence, and that devolution has put Scotland on ‘a conveyor belt to independence’.  No doubt those views will comfort both the SNP and Conservative (if not other) unionists.

More rigorous and useful is an opinion poll conducted by TNS-BMRB for the Herald, showing an increase in support for the proposal that ‘the Scottish Government should negotiate a settlement with the Government of the United Kingdom so that Scotland becomes an independent state’ (which is rather different to the question suggested by the Scottish Continue reading

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Filed under Calman Commission/Scotland bill, Public opinion, Referendums, Scotland, SNP

The last Scottish opinion polling

Weber Shandwick deserve credit for two things in the election campaign, through their ‘Scotland Votes’ website.  One is doing a ‘poll of polls’ analysis of opinion polls, and the other is developing software that enables sensible predictions of those results in the number of Parliamentary seats.  Their last poll is available here, and suggests a strong plurality of seats for the SNP: 59 , compared to 42 for Labour, 12 Conservatives and just seven Lib Dems.  There would also be eight Greens and one independent (Margo Macdonald).  There are problems with this approach, including the fact it includes historic polls, so reflects shifts in public opinion from some time ago, but it still gives an overview of public opinion.  How accurate that is will be clear by Friday afternoon!

One interesting piece of arithmetic: that would give the SNP and Greens together a majority, enough to carry a referendum bill through Holyrood.

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Filed under Elections, Labour, Public opinion, Referendums, Scotland, SNP

Wales votes, and the Holyrood Committee on the Scotland bill reports

As Wales goes to the polls in the referendum on the Assembly’s legislative powers (with the latest opinion polling showing strong, indeed growing, support for a Yes vote; see the latest YouGov poll for ITV Wales here, and one for the Western Mail here), the Scotland Bill Committee at Holyrood has published its report.  It’s rather a long report – when I set the web version up for my printer, it ran to 76 pages – but the substantive part is only about 22 pages long.  It’s available here.

Readers won’t be surprised to learn that the report largely endorses the Scotland bill.  They will also be unsurprised that the committee’s final deliberations were clearly contentious – the report records a number of cases where the committee took a formal vote on what it would recommend, and the final report reflects a view of the majority on the committee rather than the whole of it.  They might be more surprised that it’s not simply a blanket approval, though, questioning the detail of a number of provisions in the bill and calling for a number of amendments to the bill and extended process of legislative approval.  I’ll be putting up a post in the course of the day discussing the report in more detail. It’s discussed in more detail in THIS POST.

UPDATE, 4 March: Those looking for results from the Welsh referendum can find the BBC live blog here, and the official results from the Electoral Commission here.

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Filed under Calman Commission/Scotland bill, Devolution finance, Public opinion, Referendums, Scotland, Wales

The Welsh referendum campaigns, and the question of turn-out

The state of both ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ campaigns in the referendum on primary legislative powers in Wales has been a cause of concern for some time.  On the ‘Yes’ side, the problem has been the length of time it has taken to put together a campaign organisation and launch it.  Finding common ground took most of the autumn, but a chairman – Roger Lewis of the Welsh Rugby Union – was named before Christmas, and the campaign ‘Yes for Wales’ formally launched just after the New Year.  (The ‘Yes for Wales’ website is here, for those interested.)

The No campaign’s problems are different.  There’s been an organisation advancing that position for some time, in the form of True Wales.  The problem has been just how well organised and credible it is.  While its statements are regularly quoted in the Western Mail and by the BBC, it’s not clear how much interest it’s drawn from the public.  It may not have succeeded in going around the country stirring up apathy, but as Richard Wyn Jones observed privately a little while ago the No campaign’s main audience seem to have been Yes campaigners.  Those problems are such that Carwyn Jones has now observed that there may Continue reading

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Filed under Public opinion, Referendums, Wales

The politics of implementing Calman

The Calman Commission’s final report has become a key part of debates about Scotland’s constitutional future, and by extension those of the UK as a whole.  The Queen’s Speech contained a commitment to ‘take forward proposals’ in  the Commission’s report, and a UK Government white paper to that effect is due shortly.  What that white paper says, and how exactly it proposes to implement those recommendations, will be highly important.  After all, it’s now pretty clear that actual delivery of the white paper’s proposals will not happen this side of a UK general election; there was no slot for legislation in the Queen’s Speech, and there’s precious little legislative time for what’s likely to be a contentious measure anyway. That means the government which has to implement the recommendations is very likely to be different to the one publishing the white paper.  And talk of implementing Calman’s ‘proposals’ – not ‘recommendations’, and without a definite article – implies at least the possibility of cherry-picking from the report, rather than implementing it in full.  (As an aside, it’s worth noting that those involved in the Commission think that it needs to be implemented as a package – but the report itself doesn’t say so.)

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Filed under Calman Commission/Scotland bill, Conservatives, Labour, Public opinion, Scotland, SNP

Public opinion in Wales seems to support a referendum

BBC News has a report today on public opinion in Wales, drawing on the new Welsh panel that YouGov have established.  From my point of view the interesting finding (not the first) is the strong support the poll shows for the Assembly having further legislative powers, by 42 per cent to 37 per cent – and the five-point gap is particularly important.  What’s even more interesting is that support grows to 63 per cent if the option is for ‘Scottish powers’.

What will be on offer for Wales in the referendum that can be called (on bringing in Part 4 of the Government of Wales Act 2006) are not Scottish powers.  They are significantly more limited – there’s no general power to legislate, there’s no power to vary income tax (if only by 3 per cent), and policing, criminal justice and the courts will remain under Westminster’s control. They’re unquestionably better than the status quo – not just  because they mean ‘more powers for the National Assembly’, but because they will create a better system of government in which the powers of each level are clearer, and it’s easier to see who is responsible for which decision or policy.  The 2006 Act a complicated piece of legislation that creates fundamental uncertainty about the powers of the National Assembly, and a complex relationship with UK Government and Parliament about the development of those powers.

The differences between the two sets of survey results aren’t really that surprising; they reflect a desire to ensure parity of esteem for Wales, reflecting how the issue is framed, and also reflect the fact that people simply don’t understand what the 2006 Act means.

Peter Hain, the Secretary of State for Wales, is giving a speech at Cardiff University on Thursday (29 October: 4.15 pm in the Bute Building) where he’s likely to make the case for postponing a referendum – and, implicitly if not explicitly, for the status quo.  Today’s findings suggest strongly that he’s running against public opinion in doing so.  As a committed supporter of devolution, it’s odd that he now seems so timid about it.

UPDATE 28 October: the full results of the poll are available on the YouGov website here.

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Filed under Public opinion, Referendums, Wales