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Panelbase Survey of Opinions on a Written Constitution for Scotland

The results are now in from a substantial Survey of people’s attitudes on the purpose and need for a codified (written) constitution for Scotland.   The full Survey results are attached below.

Since its launch in June 2018 the Scottish Independence Foundation (SIF) has mainly concentrated on funding grassroots campaign activities by pro-Independence groups, but it was approached by Mark McNaught (Asst. Professor of Law and Political Science, University of Rennes, France) and John Drummond (Chair, Constitutional Commission) with a very different project proposal.  Their idea was to ask people in Scotland – and in the rest of Great Britain – a range of constitutional questions, including how important they considered issues like human rights, justice, fair elections, and protection for minorities.   There was a concern that most people thought such rights to be guaranteed, and that people were unaware that they could be easily amended or removed at the whim of the Westminster Parliament.

It was found that 57% of survey participants believed that civic rights should be enshrined in a single, written, codified constitution, with almost two-thirds of Yes and Remain voters thinking so:  66% and 62% respectively.   No and Leave voters’ support for enshrining civic rights was much lower at 51% and 53%.  Significantly, only 30% of respondents knew that the UK actually did not have such a constitution and instead relied on a mixture Acts of Parliament, conventions and court judgements.  Very few knew that most developed, democratic countries have a codified (written) constitution.

Tellingly, only 27% of Scottish survey respondents believed that the House of Commons did well/very well in safeguarding the democratic process, with 35% saying that it did not.   Those figures were exactly reversed in the GB-wide poll.   The Supreme Court (46%), the Scottish Parliament (47%) and the European Union (35%) all scored much better.   Only 30% of No voters believed the Scottish Parliament was doing well at protecting the democratic process, while 69% of Yes voters believed this.

There appeared to be a strong link between people’s view on Scottish Independence and their trust in the Scottish Parliament.

There were similar attitudes towards the European Union, where 44% of Yes voters and 47% of Remain voters believed the European Union was doing well in safeguarding the democratic process, which dropped to 27% for No voters and 16% for Leave voters. 
It is clear from the results that there is a need for education in the meaning of - and need for – a codified written constitution for an Independent Scotland, and that an Independent Scotland could choose to be much closer to the international, democratic norm in having one.   SIF hopes that these findings will encourage Yes campaigners to engage with the electorate on such an educational programme.


Saturday 17 November 2018

The polling results here (in an Excel file) are the results of a survey which was funded by the Scottish Independence Foundation (SIF), and commissioned by John Drummond (Chair, Constitutional Commission) and Prof Mark McNaught (University of Rennes).  Fieldwork was carried out over 02-07 November 2018.

SIF would like to thank Dr Scott Tindal, Research Fellow at the University of Edinburgh, for his analysis of the data and contribution of many comments.

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