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Theresa May is focused on voters who are Just About Managing.  Would it be fair to describe the party that she now leads as Just About Unionist?

The question arises from the findings of our last monthly survey, in which we partnered with the Centre for English Identity and Politics at Winchester University to ask about the current devolution settlement and the future of the Union.

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We asked if the devolution settlement for Scotland and Wales, as it has developed since 1999, has been beneficial for England, harmful for England, or has had no impact on England.

  • 70 per cent said that this settlement has been harmful to England.
  • 23 per cent said that it has been beneficial for England.
  • 7 per cent said that it has no impact on England.

In short, over two in three respondent Party members believe that the settlement has been harmful to England.   If we count Party members in England alone – who made up 90 per cent of respondents – that proportion rises to 93 per cent.

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We also asked which of the following positions, in the event of a second referendum campaign, the UK Government should take on the future powers of the Scottish Government within the Union.

  • 68 per cent said that it should rule out the further devolution of financial or policy making powers.
  • 27 per cent said that it should offer further devolution of policy-making powers on domestic policy.
  • 3 per cent that it should offer additional financial support and further devolution of policy-making powers on domestic policy.
  • And 2 per cent said that it should offer additional financial support, further devolution on domestic policy and engagement in foreign policy.

In other words, over two in three respondent party members are against any further devolution offer to Scotland at all.

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The final question sought to probe deeper – and touch not so much on policy as on feelings.  Which of the following, we asked, would best summarise your view of the end of the Union?

  • 33 per cent said that it would inflict serious damage on the power, influence and well-being of the remaining parts of the UK.
  • 22 per cent said that it would not be in the best interests of the remaining parts of the UK but that any problems could be managed.
  • 15 per cent said that that it would be a shame to lose the history and association but it would have no real significance for the remaining parts of the U.K.
  • And 29 per cent said that it would finally end the unreasonable demands on England to provide ever-greater financial and political concessions to Scotland.

All in all, over one in four of respondent party members seem content to see Scotland quit the UnionAdd those who believe that the change would have no real significance, and the total reaches over two in five.

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We also asked respondents from England whether they feel British or English or both (and if so to what degree).

  • 30 per cent of respondents said either that they think of themselves as English not British (11 per cent) or as more English than British (19 per cent).
  • 34 per cent said either that they think of themselves as British, not English (15 per cent) or more British than English (19 per cent).

So, in very crude terms, just over one in three would wrap themselves in the Union Flag, and almost one in three would use the flag of St George instead.

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To answer my own question, I believe the “Just About Unionist” label would not fairly represent these findings, but that they certainly expose a soft underbelly of English nationalism among Party members.

And while most would not welcome the break-up of the UK, the replies suggest those members think that, when it comes to the devolution of further powers, Theresa May should draw a line in the sand (or across the border, if you prefer).

These sentiments are clearly powered by the conviction that the Blair and Brown-era devolution settlement, with further powers devolved under David Cameron, is unfair to England.

Readers won’t need to me to tell them that these findings are topical at the moment, with speculation rife about whether Nicola Sturgeon will call for a second referendum on Scottish independence soon. The survey had 870 party member replies – not a bad total at all.

Results below.

Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 17.45.12Question One above.

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Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 18.25.26Question Two above

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Screen Shot 2017-03-01 at 18.27.02Question Three above

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121 comments for: Scotland, independence – and our survey finding. Are Conservative Party members Just About Unionist?

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