If it were possible to measure the benefit of the substantial and long investment in Northern Ireland’s nascent democracy it would be in the degree of political unity of purpose observable between the First and Deputy First Minister in their responses to the recent shootings. But then that is measuring up from a very low base. In Scotland, people are struggling to put a value on the benefits devolution has brought to them:
38% of voters said they believed devolution had improved their quality of life, 41% said it had made no difference, and 16% said it had deteriorated.
Exactly half of voters said devolution had failed to make Scotland safer, despite moves to curb antisocial behaviour and put more police on the streets, while 20% said they felt less safe. Only 22% said they felt more secure.
Some 31% said they believed standards in schools had improved, with 23% claiming they had become worse and 31% saying there had been no difference.
Since Labour was the party in power for most of that time, I guess it’s their rather than the SNP’s governmental approach that’s in the firing line… But in fact it’s the quality of the policy interventions rather than devolution itself that’s in the firing line. In fact most Scots want more devolved powers, not less:
…most people believe the powers of the parliament should be extended. If a multi-option referendum was held next year, 27% would vote for independence, 31% for more powers short of independence, 19% would back the status quo and 14% would opt to scrap Holyrood. The finding may help to explain why unionist parties are wary of backing a multi-option ballot.
Mick is founding editor of Slugger. He has written papers on the impacts of the Internet on politics and the wider media and is a regular guest and speaking events across Ireland, the UK and Europe. Twitter: @MickFealty