Devolution divergence

I’ve just spotted two interesting studies on devolution from earlier this month via the Eurekalert service.

The first found that policy approaches in Scotland and Wales have diverged from those being pursued at Westminster.

Michael Keating, Professor of Scottish Politics at the University of Aberdeen, explains: "The Labour Party may be the dominant political force in London, Edinburgh and Cardiff. But Scotland and Wales have stuck more to the traditional social democratic model of public service delivery.

"This has led them to stress non-selectivity, professionalism and uniformity, while rejecting foundation hospitals, star-rated hospitals, school league tables, beacon councils, elite universities and selective schools. Scotland also scrapped up-front university tuition fees and rejected top-up fees. At the same time, free care for the elderly has been introduced north of the border."

This doesn’t seem to have much much effect on Scottish voters yet, if the second study is anything to go by.

An analysis of the 2003 Scottish election will show that voters’ attitudes to the performance of their Tony Blair affected their vote far more than their attitudes to First Minister Jack McConnell. Many voters made their minds up based on their views of how the UK government rather than the Scottish Parliament had performed on issues such as the NHS, education and their standard of living.

"One aim of an elected Scottish Parliament was to put Scots themselves in charge of deciding who runs their government," says Prof John Curtice of Strathclyde University, who will present his research to today’s conference. "But this means that elections to the Parliament should also be elections about the work of the Parliament. And the evidence is that most voters still believe Westminster affects their lives far more than Holyrood."

Both studies were funded by the ESRC’s Devolution and Constitutional Change programme.



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