Voters are clear what they want Westminster to do—and not doby Peter Kellner / October 16, 2014 / Leave a comment
Scroll down to explore the data in detail
Listen to Peter Kellner discussing this piece at a Prospect roundtable
England’s politicians are caught between a rock and a hard place. The fallout from Scotland’s referendum makes more urgent the need for a new settlement on who should decide laws and policies that affect only England. On the other hand, the complex and time-consuming process of arriving at such a settlement contains serious risks. Millions of voters may regard it as a self-indulgent distraction from the more vital tasks of reviving the economy, raising living standards and protecting our public services.
This month’s YouGov/Prospect survey explores the two big components of the “English question”: how strongly do English voters feel about stopping Scottish MPs from voting in parliament on issues that affect only England? And, within England, how big is the appetite of voters for decentralising power, so that decisions are taken closer to the people they affect?
The cause of stripping Scottish MPs of some of their voting rights seems to be popular. A YouGov survey at the time of the recent referendum found that 72 per cent of English electors want them banned from voting on England-only issues. Fifty-five per cent would go even further, supporting something that no English politician has proposed: stop Scottish MPs from voting on tax and spending decisions.
Yet any party that made a big fuss about this might find the cause not so attractive after all. The danger emerges clearly from our poll. We gave people a list of 18 things that Britain’s government could do over the next few years, and asked them “which four or five do you think are most important?” Despite all the publicity for the issue, and the apparent support for change, curbing the voting rights of Scottish MPs comes half way down the list. Just 23 per cent regard it as one of the main priorities, a long way behind tighter immigration rules, spending more on the National Health Service, holding down…