What do Scottish voters think about the Scottish Parliament? Nothing particularly pleasant, according to Lord Ashcroft’s latest polling. The Tory peer has asked 12,000 Scots over the last few months what they think about their Parliament, the work it undertakes, its leaders and the notion of independence. The resulting picture isn’t a very happy one.
Firstly, the role of the Scottish government. Just 14 per cent claim to have a ‘very good idea’ of how power is divided up between Holyrood and Westminster, while 40 per cent claim to have ‘very little idea’. Just over half think Scottish Parliament elections are of equal importance to Westminster and 18 per cent believe it is more important. Not exactly a vote of confidence for an institution looking for more powers.
On the work of the Scottish Parliament, nearly half think independence is its main priority, compared to 7 per cent who believe it is focusing on the economy and jobs:
Over half believe the Scottish Parliament should have a different priorities and out of those who think it has the wrong priorities, 41 per cent think economy/jobs should be the main focus.
Just 6 per cent think one of the main achievements (since devolution in 1999) has been standing up and being a voice for Scotland, compared to 27 per cent for fighting for free prescriptions. Interestingly, while the independence referendum has been framed around standing up for Scotland and its people, the Parliament is seen as having done a poor job at that very task since devolution.
The figureheads in the Scottish Parliament are generally not well liked either. The SNP’s Alex Salmond, Tory Ruth Davidson and Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie are all viewed unfavourably while Labour’s Johann Lamont comes off slightly better:
Finally on the big question, 65 per cent state in Ashcroft’s survey that Scotland shouldn’t be independent vs 26 per cent who believe it should. The question is whether the Scottish Parliament is unpopular because it doesn’t have enough powers or whether voters don’t care about it having powers. If the latter is true, then it’s not exactly a boost for the SNP’s quest for independence.