Posted by: secretperson | February 25, 2008

IPPR Supports Constitutional Review I – but not English Parliament

Thanks to Witanagemot homepage headlines for this. (Thanks also for flagging up my previous post!)

The Institute for Public Policy Research, a self-described progressive think tank with strong links to the Labour Party has come out with two reports backing a review of the post-devolution constitutional situation. Probably to the annoyance of a Labour party who have been ignoring the issue, these reports put England at the centre of any review.

The first report is “Where Stands the Union Now? Lessons from the 2007 Scottish Parliament Election” by Professor John Curtice. The second “Beyond the Constitution? Englishness in a post-devolved Britain” by Kenny et al.

The first report (both are available for free download from the site linked) effectively says that a vote for the SNP is not a vote for Scottish independence, although most Scots favour more powers. And that the English are starting to object to the iniquities of the West Lothian question and Barnett formula, but awareness is limited and support for different options spread about.On Scotland the report puts SNP electoral success down to the personal popularity of Alex Salmond, combined with an overall lack of support for Labour across the UK, and the fact the SNP always does better in Holyrood than Westminster elections. The report states this is because voters think the SNP are best for Scotland and Labour best for Britain as a whole. I think this ignores the fact that SNP Westminster members will never be in government whereas Labour can win. It is a very different consideration to Holyrood where one of these two parties was bound to be the biggest.

Surveys presented in the reports show a steady support for independence of about 30%, depending on the question asked and not growing. Most support was for more devolved powers within the UK.On to England, and more surveys comparing the status quo, a regional model (as favoured by Labour) and an English parliament (the CEP gets a mention). Surveys again depend on the question asked, polls which compare England with Scotland tend to show high support (60%+) for an English parliament. Others show as little as 22% support, with regions at 17% and the status quo at 54%. So mostly undecided I would say. A proper debate would mean informing the population of an issue not much covered in the press, I believe in this case support for an English parliament would grow, but this is a debate we English parliament supporters have to go out and win!

The paper addresses specific anomalies, such as higher public spending per head in Scotland, and finds English people object to this, but are largely unaware unless informed. Whether people’s ignorance is an excuse for government not to solve a problem is not discussed, but possibly implied. For the West Lothian question the opposition to Scottish MPs voting on English and Welsh only laws was more clear cut.

There was no solution advocated, but the conclusion was that the Union is stronger than one might think, but to solve the issues people have England and Scotland would have more separation of powers.

I analyse the second paper here.


  1. […] Supports Constitutional Review II – on Englishness This follows on from my previous post on the IPPR’s latest findings. Here I address the second report, dealing with the nature of […]

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