LONDON, September 9, 2013 /PRNewswire/ --
- Holyrood voting intention: SNP 40%, Lab 35%, Con 15%, LD 5%
- Holyrood and Westminster elections 'equally important' for most Scots
- Most voters still unclear about Holyrood's powers
- Most say independence is wrong priority for Scottish Government
- Majority say taxes and debt would rise if Holyrood given more powers
Four in ten Scots admit to having "very little idea" what the Scottish Parliament is responsible for and which powers remain with Westminster, according to new research from Lord Ashcroft. Only 14% say they have a "very good idea" of Holyrood's responsibilities.
The finding has emerged from Lord Ashcroft's extensive research on Scottish political attitudes, initial results of which are published alongside his commentary in the 9 September edition of Holyrood, Scotland's political and current affairs magazine. Full coverage will be available at Holyrood.com.
Lord Ashcroft has polled more than 10,000 Scots for the research, the full results of which will be published soon. The study includes the following findings:
- 40% said they had "very little idea" which areas of government were Holyrood's responsibility and which remained with Westminster. 44% said they had have "some idea" and only 14% a "very good idea".
- The SNP lead on Scottish Parliament voting intentions (first vote): SNP 40%, Labour 35%, Conservative 15%, Liberal Democrats 5%.
- 53% said Westminster and Holyrood elections were equally important. 27% said Westminster mattered more, and 18% say Holyrood was more important. SNP voters were the only group more likely to say Holyrood was more important than the UK parliament than to say the reverse.
- 61% of Scots thought the Scottish Government currently had the wrong priority. 49% said unprompted that the independence campaign was the top of the administration's agenda, while 7% mentioned the economy and jobs. 41% of those who said the Scottish Government had the wrong priority said the economy and jobs should be the main focus.
- Nearly two thirds said the provision of free services were the Scottish Government's main achievements: prescriptions (27%), university tuition (16%), social care (13%), eye tests (2%) and scrapping road tolls (3%).
- 59% thought taxes in Scotland would rise, and 55% thought borrowing and debt would rise, if the Scottish Parliament were given responsibility for all decisions about tax and spending. Only 29% thought public services would improve.
- Four in ten had never heard, or had no opinion, of Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont. 50% said the same of Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, and 38% of Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.
Writing in Holyrood magazine, Lord Ashcroft observed:
"Despite their hazy view of what it does, it is a measure of Holyrood's established place that more than half of Scots say Scottish Parliament elections are as important as general elections for Westminster. (Most do not agree with one of our focus group participants that Holyrood should be turned into a Travelodge and all powers returned south).
"MSPs are also quite well-regarded in comparison to their colleagues in the House of Commons. Scots say their Holyrood representatives are more likely than Westminster MPs to be in touch and committed to their local communities, and to do at least as good a job representing people like them, but less prone to being career politicians who put their own interests above those of their constituents."
Noting voters' view of Holyrood's achievements and priorities, Lord Ashcroft said:
"When asked, unprompted, what they thought were Holyrood's main achievements, nearly two thirds mentioned things that were now free that once were not: prescriptions, university tuition, social care, eye tests and the scrapping of road tolls. For many who took part in our research, however, it was clear that what the Scottish Parliament actually did was less important than the fact that it was there.
"That said, I found a majority of Scots thinking the Scottish Government had got its priorities wrong. Asked what they thought was at the top of the administration's agenda, half spontaneously named the independence campaign - seven times as many as mentioned the economy and jobs. Only just over a third said they thought the current priority was right; asked what the Scottish Government should focus on instead, the economy topped the list comfortably. Many in our focus groups worried that the prolonged, repetitive debate over independence damaged the economy by creating uncertainty and deterring, or at least postponing, much needed investment."
Commenting on Scots' expectation that taxes and debt would rise if Holyrood were given more financial responsibilities, Lord Ashcroft said:
"I also found many voters deeply sceptical about the idea of giving the Scottish Parliament more powers (and relatively few had come across the inelegant term "devo max")… For our focus group participants, massive cost overruns on previous major projects, such as the Edinburgh tram system and the parliament building itself, helped to undermine confidence in the Scottish Parliament's financial rectitude. Many see the Scottish Parliament as the body that hands out the cash; while all the newly free services are welcome, they wonder what this would mean if Holyrood had to raise the money as well as spend it."
Notes to Editors
- 10,007 adults in Scotland interviewed in Scotland between 22 February and 9 May 2013; 1,000 between 7 and 17 June; and 1,013 between 2 and 9 August. Results have been weighted to be representative of all adults in Scotland. Focus groups were conducted in Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh and Glasgow in July 2013.
- Full coverage will appear in the 9 Sept edition of Holyrood magazine and at Holyrood.com.
- Lord Ashcroft KCMG PC is an international businessman, author and philanthropist. He is founder and Chairman of the Board of Crimestoppers, a member of the Board of the Imperial War Museum, Chairman of the Trustees of Ashcroft Technology Academy, Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University and Treasurer of the International Democrat Union. From 2005 to 2010 he was Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party.
- His political books and research papers include Smell The Coffee (2005); Minority Verdict; What Future For Labour?; What Future For The Liberal Democrats? (2010); Crime, Punishment & The People; Project Blueprint; The Leadership Factor (2011); Degrees of Separation; The Armed Forces & Society; Blue Collar Tories; Project Red Alert; They're Thinking What We're Thinking: Understanding The UKIP Temptation (2012); What Are The Liberal Democrats For?; Marginal Territory; Are You Serious: Boris, The Tories And The Voters; and Small Island: Public Opinion And The Politics Of Immigration (2013).
- Full details of Lord Ashcroft's polling and commentary can be found at LordAshcroftPolls.com, where you can sign up for news alerts. You can also follow him on Twitter: @LordAshcroft.
View the poll : http://www.holyrood.com/2013/09/what-scots-think/