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More devolution: an alternative road?

Authors: John Curtice, Rachel Ormston

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The option of a more powerful Scottish Parliament that is still part of the United Kingdom will not appear on the referendum ballot paper in autumn 2014. However, proposals for extending the existing devolution settlement are being developed by a number of organisations and all three of the principal unionist parties have indicated a willingness in principle to introduce such a change. This paper examines public attitudes towards the prospect of more devolution.


The paper starts by summarising trends in people’s constitutional preferences and considering whether or not some variety of ‘devo max’ is really the most popular option. It then looks in more detail not only at what powers people would like to see exercised from Edinburgh rather than London, but also at how people might want those powers to be exercised – do they want Holyrood to make substantially different decisions from Westminster in key areas such as tax and benefits? Finally, it compares people’s expectations of the consequences of further devolution – for national pride, the economy, Scotland’s voice in the world and other areas – with their expectations of the possible consequences of independence, in order to identify the comparative level of enthusiasm for further devolution as a way of improving the position of Scotland and its people.