Half of Scots believe No vote means more powers

HALF of Scots believe that Holyrood will get more powers after a No vote in the referendum, a major study has found.

Johann Lamont, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie made their further devolution pledge. Picture: Lisa Ferguson

The finding indicates this week’s pledge from pro-Union parties to deliver greater devolution “could pay off”.

More powers for Holyrood also remains the favoured constitutional option of about three-quarters of voters surveyed, according to the British Election Study (BES) of around 4,000 Scots earlier this year.

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But the findings were dismissed by Nationalists, who said a survey conducted this week revealed growing distrust among Scots about the prospect of the Better Together parties delivering enhanced devolution.

A belief more powers will be delivered is crucial in people’s decision to vote Yes or No on 18 September, according to BES co-director Professor Ed Fieldhouse. He said: “What really matters is not just the level of support for more devolution, but the extent to which supporters of further powers think their aspirations will be met within the Union. Half of voters, we find, think more devolution will happen even if Scotland votes No.”

All three pro-Union parties this week signed up to a joint pledge to guarantee more powers for Holyrood in the event of a No vote. The Liberal Democrats’ plan would see Scotland have control of 42 per cent of taxes raised north of the Border as part of a federalist approach.

Labour has pledged to give MSPs the power to varying income tax by up to 15p in the pound, from 10p under the current Scotland Act which is in the process of being implemented.

The Conservatives’ Strathclyde Commission has called for Scotland to be given control over the rate and bands for income after the personal allowance, which would stay an issue reserved to Westminster. This would make Holyrood accountable for almost 40 per cent of the money it spent.

Almost three-quarters of Scottish voters want more devolution, according to the BES poll, which was conducted between 20 February and 9 March.

Prof Fieldhouse said: “Even amongst those intending to vote No, a majority [57 per cent] say they want some or many more powers for Scotland compared to 96 per cent of Yes voters.

“Overall, half of voters think that devolution will happen even if Scotland votes No.”

But the SNP pointed to a fresh poll conducted this week which indicated only a third trust the No parties to deliver further powers. The Panelbase poll also found 43 per cent did not trust Westminster on the issue.

SNP MSP Linda Fabiani said: “Past experience has shown that promises on further powers are quickly forgotten by the Westminster parties once they get what they want. It is clear the people of Scotland will not be fooled again.”