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Last Updated: Friday, 6 February, 2004, 13:56 GMT
Scots disappointed by devolution
MSPs in chamber
MSPs have not made a difference, the poll says
The Scottish Parliament has proved to be less powerful than Scots expected, according to a new opinion poll.

The survey found devolution risks being unable to deliver "Scottish answers" on issues where people take a distinctive view from England.

Two-thirds of Scots believe that the UK Government has most influence over their lives despite devolution.

The researchers said their study is the most extensive survey of public opinion since devolution.

Westminster's door

The 2003 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey was conducted by the Scottish Centre for Social Research between May and October 2003.

A random sample of 1,508 adults aged over 18, resident in Scotland, were interviewed face to face.

Professor John Curtice, one of the authors of the report, said that many people continue to believe that having a Scottish Parliament has made no difference to how well Scotland is governed.

However, support for the principle of devolution remains as strong as ever.

Much of the blame for the disappointments of the past four years appears to be laid at Westminster's door.

Almost four out of 10 said that the UK Government has been primarily responsible for what has happened to the health service in Scotland since devolution in June 1999.

In their minds the Scottish Parliament just simply is not making a difference to their lives in Scotland
Prof John Curtice

Just one in five (21%) believed the Scottish Executive has been responsible for changes in health and a similar figure thought education had been most affected by Holyrood.

Prof Curtice said: "In their minds the Scottish Parliament just simply is not making a difference to their lives in Scotland.

"They had high expectations, perhaps even exaggerated expectations, at the time the parliament was set up, and the parliament simply has not been able to live up to that."

"The cry, if anything, is not that devolution should come to an end, but could it live up to the expectations that we had? Could the Scottish Parliament be the centre of Scottish life like we thought it was going to be and still want it to be?"

Prof Curtice said that voters also wanted leaders who connected with them and had a degree of "charisma".

Iraq war

"None of Scotland's political leaders, with the possible exception of Tommy Sheridan, appear to live up to the role," he said.

The survey also found that the Iraq War failed to sway voters at the Holyrood election in May.

About four out of 10 Scots (42%) agreed with the statement "Britain was wrong to go to war with Iraq" and almost exactly the same proportion (40%) disagreed.

However the pro-war parties, Labour and the Conservatives, lost the same number of votes from among those in favour of the invasion as those against.

Prof Curtice said: "It seems as though fears that the Iraqi war would overshadow the 2003 Scottish election were exaggerated."

"Unrealistically high"

A Scottish Executive spokesman said that First Minister Jack McConnell was aware that there was disappointment with devolution.

He said that the poor publicity surrounding the building of the new Holyrood parliament had created a bad impression.

And he added that expectation of the parliament had been "unrealistically high".

"The first minister believes that he is developing the policies and priorities, such as growing the economy and tackling crime, which will increase confidence in parliament and politicians in years to come," the spokesman said.


SEE ALSO:
Faith in devolution 'slumps'
21 Apr 03  |  Scotland


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