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Last Updated: Monday, 3 July 2006, 21:51 GMT 22:51 UK
Voters put most trust in Holyrood
By Kenneth Macdonald
BBC Newsnight Scotland

Scottish voters trust Holyrood far more than Westminster, a study has found.

The Scottish Centre for Social Research (Scotcen) said devolution appeared to have reinforced the Union rather than pushed Scotland towards independence.

But the report also said people wanted more power for Holyrood and turnout in elections may depend on party leaders making themselves better known.

The Scotcen researchers claimed the study was the most thorough analysis of post-devolution Scotland.

Holyrood chamber
Holyrood appears to be the "settled will" of Scottish voters

The report, Has Devolution Delivered?, found the current constitutional settlement appeared to be the "settled will" of the Scottish people.

But it also said Holyrood needed more power.

While most voters thought Westminster had more say in Scotland than Holyrood, they trusted the Edinburgh parliament more, by a margin of three to one.

The researchers also tried to find out why the turnout in the last Holyrood election was less than 50%.

They said party leaders did not do enough to make themselves known to the electorate.

When voters were asked if First Minister Jack McConnell was doing a good job, 14% said they did not know enough about him to make a judgement.

Other major party leaders fared even worse.

More powers

Just under half of voters chose the current devolution settlement as their preferred way of governing Scotland.

Support for independence appeared to have peaked just after the devolution referendum in 1997.

Since then it has been supported by just over a quarter of voters.

Yet the figures also showed a hunger for yet more powers to be devolved to Holyrood.

This led at least one of the report's authors to suggest we may see an upsurge of support for something that looks a lot like independence.

When voters were asked which parliament had the most influence over how Scotland was run, confidence in Holyrood was high when devolution began, then fell away.

Now it is Westminster that Scots see as holding sway.

It seems when something goes wrong, the Scots blame Westminster, but when the going gets good it is Holyrood that gets the praise

Yet the figures showed most people wanted the Scottish Parliament to have more powers.

And Holyrood is three times more likely than Westminster to be trusted with Scotland's long-term interests.

It seems when something goes wrong, the Scots blame Westminster, but when the going gets good it is Holyrood that gets the praise.

We may be critical of Holyrood, but it is still our Holyrood.

The report Has Devolution Delivered? is edited by Catherine Bromley, John Curtice, David McCrone and Alison Park.

Most data used in the study came from the 2003 Scottish Social Attitudes Survey.

The survey comprised a face-to-face interview with 1,508 respondents and self-completion questionnaire.




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SEE ALSO
Majority put faith in executive
12 Sep 05 |  Scotland
Scots disappointed by devolution
06 Feb 04 |  Scotland
Faith in devolution 'slumps'
21 Apr 03 |  Scotland

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