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University of Edinburgh research points to constitutional change

ByTom Wrench

Mar 31, 2015

Research by the University of Edinburgh’s Academy of Government suggests that the majority of the UK population believe Scotland will become independent at some point in the future.

The study, which was conducted by Dr Jan Eichhorn and Dr Daniel Kenealy and is available online, also reveals that a large proportion of English people questioned support the Conservative Party’s proposal of English votes for English laws.

The poll of over seven thousand voters from across the UK found that, despite having rejected independence last September, 69 per cent of Scotland’s electorate believe the country would one day become independent. 59 per cent of England’s voters also believe Scotland will eventually separate from the UK.

Meanwhile, almost three quarters of people across most of the English regions favour English votes for English laws (EVEL).

EVEL was supported by between 70 per cent and 75 per cent in every English region, apart from Greater London where support was 66 per cent, with those from the East Midlands most in favour of the change.

The strongest support for both regional assemblies and greater powers to municipal city councils came from Yorkshire and Humberside.

In England and Northern Ireland, 59 per cent said Scotland was set to leave the UK. A majority held the same view in Wales where 54 per cent believed that Scotland would eventually become independent.

Speaking to The Student, Dr Jan Eichhorn, Chancellor’s Fellow in Social Policy at the University of Edinburgh and one of the authors of the study, said; “The crucial finding of this research is that a large number of people across the UK want to be engaged in determining the future of the Union.

“We cannot assume that the general public are not interested in constitutional affairs. There is a strong feeling that there is little consultation and consequently decisions on important matters are being made by the parliaments, and not the people.”

Dr Eichhorn also acknowledged that since the referendum last September, more young people than ever are becoming engaged in politics.

He said: “Political parties have a distinct chance of activating young people. Research shows that young people feel alienated from politics and are therefore less likely to vote. However, parties can harness the recent greater political engagement of the general public and encourage university students to get more involved.

“The emergence of smaller parties, such as the Green Party and UKIP, have given the electorate more options with regards to the future of the United Kingdom by each giving their own distinctive proposals.”

Established by the University of Edinburgh in 2011, the Academy of Government aims to prepare students and professionals for leadership roles across the public and private sector.

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