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Ready to take another leap? Public opinion on how Scotland should be governed

Authors: John Curtice and Rachel Ormston

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Where do people in Scotland feel that their constitutional future should lie – as an independent country, as part of the UK but with a devolved parliament that has greater powers, or some other option? As the UK Parliament debates a Bill that would hand some tax-raising powers to Holyrood and the SNP campaigns to hold an independence referendum, this briefing presents findings from the Scottish Social Attitudes survey on how people in Scotland say they would like to be governed.


The SNP came to power in Edinburgh in 2007 hoping that, if it demonstrated an ability to govern effectively, people would be increasingly persuaded of its case for independence. The party plans to campaign in this year’s Scottish Parliament election on a platform of greater economic powers for the devolved administration.

Meanwhile, the Conservative/Liberal Democrat government at Westminster is currently legislating to give the Scottish Parliament responsibility for raising some of its own revenues, rather than relying, as it does now, almost wholly on a block grant from Westminster. Under the proposed arrangements, from 2016 onwards around a third of Holyrood’s budget would be funded in this way.

This briefing summarises key findings from the Scottish Social Attitudes survey (SSA) on public attitudes to different options for the government of Scotland. It looks at support for independence and examines what factors underpin people’s constitutional preferences. It also assesses the fit between the proposals currently being debated by the UK Parliament and the Scottish public’s preferences for how their country should be run. The data presented here (unless otherwise stated) are from SSA 2010, which was conducted between June and October of that year.