Having quickly read both Professor Curtice’s blog (link below) and also the relevant chapter of the report it refers to, I am left with an impression that in drafting the former and the conclusions of the latter, there may have been an attempt to emphasise the similarities between attitudes in England and Scotland – it would be remarkable if there were none – but to minimise or underplay the differences.
In the ‘Overview’ section of the main report, this is stated: “People living in Scotland tend to be more social – democratically minded than people living in England.” And: “… there are significant differences between people living in England and Scotland in terms of perceptions of social fairness, ..…”
Alert readers will note the use of the term ‘significantly’ here!
But in his blog, Professor Curtis states: “In short, the image that emerges from the research is that Scotland is far from being at odds with England in its dislike of inequality and is only a little more inclined to do something about it” This leaves the reader with a rather different message!
And the main report states: “… respondents in Scotland who identified with the SNP were more likely to express dissatisfaction with government effectiveness at tackling inequality than respondents who identified with other parties.”
I have a sense here – and perhaps I’m getting hypersensitive – that a question asked about effectiveness of “the government in Britain” is then shifted to, at least by implication, ‘governments in Britain’. Quite different things! If asked about views on ‘the government in Britain’ I strongly suspect most SNP voters would take this to mean Westminster: their expression of dissatisfaction then indicates much more than, in the words of Professor Curtis, “only a little more inclined to do something about it”! They are ‘inclined’ to the most radical enabling action – dissolving the Union!
Elsewhere in the main report we learn:
“… the comparatively more negative perception of those in Scotland of Britain’s current income distribution does suggest that Scotland may have more of a tendency towards socially democratic politics – consistent with previous analysis of BSA and SSA.”
And also: ‘Significantly more respondents living in Scotland think that it is “somewhat wrong” or “very wrong” for those with higher incomes to be able to buy better health care, with two in five (42%) reporting this view, compared to one third (32%) in England. Similarly, 45% of respondents in Scotland feel that it is somewhat or definitely wrong that people with higher incomes can buy better education, compared with one third (34%) of respondents in England.’
Note that word ‘significantly’ again!
And finally and oddly: “Amongst those that identify with socially democratic parties, there are differences between respondents in England relative to Scotland, but these are relatively subtle. Half of social democrat identifiers in Scotland feel that people on higher incomes buying better health care or education is wrong (49% and 53% respectively). This compares with approximately two-fifths of respondents in England (37% and 40%) respectively.”
Check the differences in percentages: 49% vs. 37%; 53% vs 40%. Are these really ‘subtle’ differences? Or a drafting of text to, not so subtly, underplaying differences?
Throughout the report there are numerous instances where claimed prevalence of similarities or only subtle differences in attitudes between Scotland and England are used to question ‘difference’ as a justifiable part of the case for Scotland’s independence.