As reported in this morning’s Scotsman, 82% of the 1,519 Tory members who took part in the latest ConservativeHome survey favour English and Welsh MPs being given sole control of laws affecting England and Wales. David Cameron is expected to accept a recommendation from Ken Clarke’s policy group for ‘English votes for English laws’.
There was also majority support for complete elimination of the subsidy that English taxpayers pay to Scotland. 63% said it should go. Some estimates put the subsidy at nearly £1,500 but Scottish Nationalists say that North Sea Oil revenues mean that Scotland has long subsidised England.
Exactly the same proportion of Tory members – 39% – supported and opposed the idea that the Scottish party should enjoy "complete freedom for Scottish Conservatives to form their own manifesto at the next General Election." Some have long advocated that the Scottish Party’s relationship to the wider Conservative Party should mirror the relationship that the Bavarian CSU has with Angela Merkel’s CDU. Supporters of the change believe that a separate Scottish party with its own manifesto and own name would help to address the image of Edinburgh Tories as owned by the English. At the last three General Elections the Conservative Party has performed very badly. It won no seats in 1997 and only one seat in 2001 and 2005. Leading lights in the Scottish party – including its major donor, Irvine Laidlaw – are said to oppose any such change, however, believing it would weaken the Union. [Related link on fiscal autonomy for Scotland].
21% said they favoured "an independent English Parliament". I agree with Ian Campbell who kindly emailed to say that this question was unhelpfully worded and we should really have asked people’s opinion on a devolved English Parliament. We’ll ask that question in a future survey.