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Core Module - Attitudes to Government, the Economy and Public Services in Scotland

Authors: Rachel Ormston and Susan Reid

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This report presents findings from the 2009 Scottish Social Attitudes survey (SSA) on two key questions:

  • How have attitudes to government, public services and the economy changed over time?
  • Who held more or less positive views on these issues in 2009?

It explores both longer-term trends in public opinion since the start of devolution in 1999 and changes in attitudes over the shorter period since the last SSA took place in 2007.


At the outset of devolution in 1999, expectations of the new Scottish institutions of government were very high – for example, 81% believed they would trust the Scottish Parliament ‘just about always’ or ‘most of the time’ to act in Scotland’s interests, 64% thought having a Scottish Parliament would give ordinary people more say in how Scotland is governed and 70% thought it would give Scotland a stronger voice in the UK. However, SSA data from 2000 to 2006 suggest that these initial expectations, perhaps unsurprisingly were not completely met in practice. By 2006, around half said they trusted the Scottish Government ‘just about always’ or ‘most of the time’ to act in Scotland’s interests. Moreover, by 2006 more people believed that having a Scottish Parliament was making no difference to ordinary people’s say in government and Scotland’s voice in the UK than thought devolution was improving these things.