Scots ‘more likely to vote’ than rest of UK

The referendum on Scottish independence delivered a 'political engagement bonus' say experts. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
The referendum on Scottish independence delivered a 'political engagement bonus' say experts. Picture: Lisa Ferguson
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SCOTS are more interested in politics and more likely to vote in the general election than those elsewhere in Britain, a survey has suggested.

Experts said September’s referendum on independence seems to have delivered a “political engagement bonus”, with 62 per cent north of the border saying they are at least fairly interested in politics - compared to a 49 per cent national average.

“Beyond Scotland it does not bode well that the public’s willingness to vote, even if they feel strongly about an issue, has declined and few people want to get involved in decision-making even at the local level”

Ruth Fox

Furthermore, 72 per cent of Scots said they are certain to vote in the event of an immediate general election while the national average was just 49 per cent.

The figures were contained in the latest Hansard Society annual Audit of Political Engagement published today.

The report revealed 39 per cent in Scotland said they were a “strong” supporter of a political party, compared to a 30 per cent national average, and 44 per cent of Scots agreed that if they get involved in politics they can change the way the country is run - in comparison to a 32 per cent British average.

However, Scots were more likely than the national average to think that the system of governing needs “a great deal of improvement”.

Across Britain, 49 per cent said they are certain to vote in a general election - no increase from the previous year’s survey despite the upcoming election.

The report also asked respondents their preferences if no party wins an overall majority on May 7.

It revealed 32 per cent want another election to be called, 27 per cent want a coalition, 23 per cent want minority government and 18 per cent did not know.

Ruth Fox, director and head of research at the Hansard Society and co-author of the report, said: “The independence referendum in Scotland appears to have delivered a political engagement bonus. But whether it can be sustained remains to be seen.

“Beyond Scotland it does not bode well that the public’s willingness to vote, even if they feel strongly about an issue, has declined and few people want to get involved in decision-making even at the local level.

“Given the bleak state of political engagement across Great Britain, politicians should be asking themselves some hard questions about exactly why, in advance of a tight election, the public remain so disillusioned and disengaged.”

The Hansard Society is an independent, non-partisan organisation which carries out the audit to measure the “political pulse” of the nation.

The findings are based on 1,123 interviews conducted between November 20 and December 5 last year.

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