Is there an English backlash? Reactions to devolution

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Is there an English backlash? Reactions to devolution Empty Is there an English backlash? Reactions to devolution

Post  MH on Wed 28 Jan 2009 - 23:05

The National Centre for Social Research has today published its 25th British Social Attitudes Report.

It a collection of nine research articles. The first of these, entitled "Is there an English backlash? Reactions to devolution" is of particular interest to us in Wales. It has some useful statistics that anyone putting the finishing touches to their AWC submission might be able to use. This is the press release:


There is growing public concern in England about Scotland’s share of public spending, while a majority
continue to question Scottish MPs’ right to vote on English laws – the so-called ‘West Lothian question’. But more generally there are few signs of an English ‘backlash’ against Scottish and Welsh devolution, according to the latest British Social Attitudes report, published today by NatCen.

People in England increasingly take the view that Scotland gets more than its fair share of public
spending. They also continue to question the right of Scottish MPs to vote on English laws:
• Nearly a third (32%) of people in England now feel that Scotland gets more than its fair share of
government spending, up from 22% in 2003.
• Well over half (61%) agree that Scottish MPs should not vote on English legislation, though this
figure was already almost as high (60%) in 2003.

But the report finds little to suggest that people in England resent Scottish and Welsh devolution, or want devolution for themselves:
• Only a minority oppose the devolution that is already in place. Fewer than one in five people in
England (18%) oppose the idea of Scotland having its own Parliament, while only 20% oppose the
Welsh Assembly.
• There has been no increase in the desire that Scotland should leave the UK; only one in five
people in England (19%) want this, no more than felt that way in 1999 (21%).
• The majority (57%, the same figure as in 2001) think England should continue to be governed from
Westminster rather than by an English Parliament (17% in favour) or regional assembles (14% in

Although the introduction of devolution elsewhere in the UK in the late 1990s appears to have awakened a sense of ‘Englishness’ among some people, little has changed since then:
• Forced to choose, 47% of people in England say they are British while 39% say they are English.
• While the proportion saying they are British is down by 11 percentage points on 1996 (58%) it is up
three points on 1999 (44%).

The English ‘backlash’ is limited partly because many people feel devolution has not made much
difference to the way Britain is governed and partly because many still trust the UK government to look after England’s long-term interests:
• More than half (55%) of people in England say that the creation of the Scottish Parliament has
made no difference to how well Britain is governed.
• 50% trust the UK government to look after England’s interests either ‘just about always’ or ‘most of
the time’.

John Curtice, author, comments:
‘The current asymmetric constitutional arrangements in the UK still seem to fit English public
opinion reasonably well. But the match is not perfect. There are signs of a growing reaction against
the levels of public spending enjoyed by Scotland, and the issue could yet prove a flashpoint for
the Union unless it is seen to be satisfactorily addressed.’
It just so happens that the whole of this article has been made available online here:

Read a free online sample of chapter one

As the software options allow anyone to freely print or download this chapter, I've done so. So, if anyone prefers to read it in .pdf form you can download it here:

Is there an English backlash? Attitutes to Devolution

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