Devo-max for Scotland: what Lib Dem members think

by Stephen Tall on November 29, 2014

Lib Dem Voice has polled our members-only forum  to discover what Lib Dem members think of various political issues, the Coalition, and the performance of key party figures. 747 party members responded – thank you – and we’re publishing the full results.

On Thursday, the Smith Commission published its recommendations on how to take forward the promise made by all three party leaders to deliver extensive powers for Scotland in the event of a No vote.

As my co-editor Caron noted then: “Federalism was never going to come out of this. It couldn’t, given that you need the co-operation of the rest of the UK to do that. We need to keep campaigning for a proper UK wide constitutional convention after the election.”

Before Lord Smith had reported, though, we tested the water in our survey. How happy were Lib Dem members, most of whom are English, about the priority being afford to the Scots?

67% say sort out Scottish devolution out now, sort England out later

Before the Scottish referendum all three main parties promised to give more powers to the Scottish Parliament if Scotland voted NO, and to put the new powers in place before May. Following the NO vote there has also been discussion of how increased devolution to Scotland should be reflected in England, including whether only English MPs should be able to vote on English laws. On this issue the main political parties do NOT agree. If the main political parties cannot agree on how increased Scottish devolution should be reflected in England, and whether Scottish MPs should be allowed to vote on English laws, do you think…

    67% – Increased Scottish devolution should go ahead as promised, with England being sorted out later on

    7% – Increased Scottish devolution should have to wait until the main parties can decide what happens in England

    24% – Increased Scottish devolution should go ahead as promised, and the government should set new rules on which MPs can vote on English laws even if not all the main parties agree

    2% – Don’t know

Judging by our survey, Lib Dem members are quite relaxed about the move to ‘Vow Max’, even if it means the English (and Welsh and Northern Irish) have to wait before we get anything like the equivalent powers. Two-thirds say increased powers for Scotland should be sorted now, regardless. However, that leaves a decent-sized minority who also believe that the increasingly lopsided arrangements for Scotland (the infamous ‘West Lothian’ question) do need to be sorted out sooner, not later. Here’s a sample of your comments:

• England *and* Cornwall
• The promise should be carried through. Otherwise the Scots will, quite rightly, go for independence.
• There is no provision for second class MPs at Westminster. What is neede is a new constitutional basis that has a body that deals with “England only” matters, on a par with the Scottish Parliament and the Wesh and NI Assemblies
• Equal Devolution for all constituent nations should occur simultaneously
• For better or worse (probably worse) the main parties did agree to give Scotland more powers, and they should do this, but Cameron was quite wrong with his knee-jerk reaction of “must do the same for England” and expect it to happen quickly without proper consultation. It needs to be done PROPERLY.
• The Scottish situation is in danger of boring everyone to death.
• This whole kerfuffle is going to result in Scottish independence
• WE need a constitutional convention. An English parliament dealing with English matters with a smaller number of UK MPs doing about as much work as the Scots do in our Parliament now!
• English MPs voting on English matters is a Tory tactic to create a majority. It is no more logical than suggesting that only female MPs should vote on ‘female’ matters.
• We need a constitutional convention
• Should be a Constitutional Convention, with a federal state being proposed.
• progress should be made on all areas of devolution at same time. Important that devolution does not lead to abuse of power by Labour councils in North that Thatcher successfully curbed the power of. As a Northerner would not like Labour controlled devolution.
• I do get annoyed when Nick Clegg/The Lib Dems are painted with the same ‘opportunist’ brush as Cameron. Our part was pro more devolution for a long time before
• We need a new UK-wide constitutional settlement. I don’t see why Scotland should be excluded from that. So they’ll just have to wait until it is decided.
• The “vow” must be kept.
• am ambivalent on this as Holyrood already has more semi-autonomous powers than any other part of the UK, possibly excepting the City of London
• Waiting will increase SNP / independence support to a point that it will become unstoppable.

  • 1,500+ Lib Dem paid-up party members are registered with LibDemVoice.org. 747 completed the latest survey, which was conducted between 22nd and 26th November.
  • Please note: we make no claims that the survey is fully representative of the Lib Dem membership as a whole. However, LibDemVoice.org’s surveys are the largest independent samples of the views of Lib Dem members across the country, and have in the past offered accurate guides to what party members think.
  • For further information on the reliability/credibility of our surveys, please refer to FAQs: Are the Liberal Democrat Voice surveys of party members accurate? and polling expert Anthony Wells’ verdict, On that poll of Lib Dem members.
  • The full archive of our members’ surveys can be viewed at www.libdemvoice.org/category/ldv-members-poll
  • * Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.