Back in May an ICM poll for the BBC’s Politics Show asked if, in light of devolution, it was right or wrong that a Scottish MP can become Prime Minister of the whole UK. Then only 45% thought it was right, with 52% saying no. Professor John Curtice cast doubt on the poll earlier this week saying that it was a leading question.
A YouGov poll in today’s Telegraph asks a similar question, but with slightly different wording. YouGov asked whether an MP for a Scottish constituency should be able to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, or if they should be barred. 56% thought they should be able to serve as PM, only 25% said they should be barred from serving.
The main differences in the wording are that ICM asked about right/wrong and YouGov asked if MPs from Scottish constituencies should actually be barred from serving as PM (it is possible to think that something is ‘wrong’ without thinking it should be actually banned), secondly YouGov spelt out in the text that Gordon Brown was an MP for a Scottish seat, so answers were more likely ot be skewed by pro-or-anti Brown sentiment, and thirdly YouGov’s actual wording said “a Westminster MP for a Scottish constituency” as opposed to “a Scottish MP” in the ICM/Politics Show poll.
Finally, a Populus poll for the Daily Politics on Friday asked whether “Now there is a Scottish Parliament and a Welsh assembly the next Prime Minister ought to come from England” – 40% agreed, 53% disagreed.
I shall leave it up to you to decide how fair you think the wording is the three polls – to an extent it is irrelevant anyway. What would matter is whether people felt strongly enough about the location of Gordon Brown’s constituency to prevent them from voting Labour under his leadership, and neither poll gives any idea of what extent, if any, that is true.
YouGov’s poll also asked about the position of Scottish MPs in general post-devolution, and the continuation of the Barnett formula. 55% of people thought that Scottish MPs should be banned from voting on matters affecting on England, and this included a plurality (46%) of respondents in Scotland. Interestingly though, this figure is falling, not rising – in February 2004 YouGov asked the same question and 67% of people thought Scottish MPs should not be able to vote on matters affecting only England and Wales. A very slight fall was also seen in a YouGov poll commissioned by the English Democrats Party which found support for an English Parliament fall by 1 point since 2004 to 23%, and support for only English MPs being able to vote on issues affecting only England falling 4 points to 43%.
On the Barnett Formula there were far sharper differences in opinion between Scotland and the rest of the country. Only 11% of respondents in England thought that Scotland should continue to receive extra spending, while 74% of Scots agreed; 70% of English respondents thought that the Barnett formula should be scrapped, only 12% of Scots did.
Finally (in the tradition of the rather more frivolous story about skateboarding dogs at the end of the 6 o’clock news), YouGov asked about Gordon Brown’s professed support for England in World Cup. 34% of people thought that Brown genuinely wanted England to win, 45% though he was just pretending.