Devo-max for Scotland: what Lib Dem members think

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 was Editor (and Co-Editor) of Liberal Democrat Voice from 2007 to 2015, and writes at The Collected Stephen Tall.

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    6 Comments

    • Scott Rennie 29th Nov '14 - 8:32am

      Some months ago I argued on here that part of the message from Scots is that not only do we need more devolution but that the whole UK constitution needs reform. An unelected chamber is a disgrace. An elected Senate is worth thinking about. I’d like to see us in our last few months of office pushing publicly for a UK Constitutional Convention to get going. Otherwise even those of us who strongly believe in the Union will lose faith in its ability to reform and renew itself for the 21st century.

    • Marcus Kravis 29th Nov '14 - 9:19am

      The party leadership keep banging on about “federalism” but do nothing about it.

    • Graham Martin-Royle 29th Nov '14 - 3:17pm

      I agree with Scott Rennie, we should use these last few months to push for a constitutional convention and get some momentum going. It would help to distinguish us from all the other parties who insist on a top down approach and could be a vote winner.

    • Whatever 747 contributors to LDV Surveys think about Devo Max it is not what was on offer after the Smith commission announcement this week.

      The BBC has revealed that last minute horse trading by unionist parties (which sadly includes the Liberal Democrats nowadays).

      http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-30245135

      It is now clear that what was announced this week on Welfare is not even what Smith had in mind at the beginning of the week.

      This is not the way to do constitutional reform. As Scott Rennie says in his comment the Liberal Democrats should be pushing for a Constitutional Convention for the UK.

    • Scottish voters for four years considered Scotland as part of the UK and a very small no vote took the day.

      I have been studying myself what I thought had occurred for such a close shave and I really think that the SNP found an excellent formula for getting backing. In the UK 3 main parties launch manifesto and sway the public with what they offer scotland is it seems more left leaning and supported Labour who sadly as in the rUK let voters down. Conservative vote is poor in Scotland as is UKIP bit far right in what they want for the country. Lib con came together and Libdem broke promises as well

      What I think is Scottish voters had an alternative the SNP they have like UKIP pedalled the lets be independent as a cure for all ills message. In England we dot not have an SNP type party the voters have reached the same conclusion as the Scots but have only one option who promises utopia UKIP

      So Scotland sees the rise of UKIP as a threat in the way many UK voters do they think we have all moved right I think it’s far simpler we are sick of the three main parties and have no where to go.

      The English look at the three parties promising extensive changes without any consultation with us and understandably resent it. The Scots think England is against its Devo and in my opinion it does not go very far.

      One issue Scotland seemed intent on was nuclear weapons the offer they have does nothing that may help I think unless change comes, and comes fast Scotland will go independant in fact the rUK may even want independace in all four nations.

      All of this because Westminster MPs do not keep promises give little or no regard for our concerns, and if you are poor and single give the impression you don’t exist.

      Did Nick do the correct thing backing the promise, did the parties think through why this situation had arose you ask should you spend time while you are in power pushing this YES

      By the way Mps voting on England does not mean Scottish MPs are second class it’s the rUK MPs who are second class now and the idea concerning woman MPs voting on woman issues as a parallel is ridiculous

      I don’t suppose anyone will give a monkey about my assessment I feel very strongly I am correct the SNP have won because they have credibility it’s unfortunate we can not vote for them here. I have voted in every election I have been able to I am now 61 and for the fairst time I am thinking of not voting in 2015 no matter who I vote for I can be confident that I will not get what I wish for

    • Scotland should have been given more powers to run their own affairs years ago. I think this was always Lib Dem policy, and had it happened, many of Salmond’s arguments would have lost their force. Not only Scotland but most of the North of England is disaffected by the London-focused character of much recent legislation. We do NOT want a couple of token mayors, but freedom to take democratic decisions about priorities for health and education in our part of the country.

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