Monday, 28 May 2007

What a bunch of sour little regionalists

The Constitution Unit (CU) has just published its latest newsletter, Monitor, which comments on, among other things, devolution. Many thanks to Gareth Young via the CEP network for the heads-up on this one.

The CU, being an “independent” group of well-educated academics, has always supported regional assemblies and strongly opposed an English Parliament (?). Their arguments have been shot down one by one over the last few years, but nothing shot them down harder than the people of the north-east of England. In a referendum on a regional assembly in 2004, a whopping 78% of people voted “No” to a regional assembly. Might I just add here that the referendum was a simple “Yes or No” question.

Despite this, the CU continued ploughing what we had always told them was a fallow field. Their retort was always that the grass was hardly greener on our side of the fence, seeing as (according to their favourite surveys), support for an English Parliament was below 20%. In the words of CU stalwart, Prof. John Curtice, in July last year, “yeah, well let us know when you’ve got some public support.”

Then some different people started doing some opinion polling. November 2006- a Sunday Telegraph Ipsos Mori Poll found that 68% of people support an English Parliament. January 2007, a BBC Poll (yes, the BBC!) shows that 61% support an English Parliament. More recently, in April this year, an ICM Poll commissioned by the CEP found that support for an English Parliament was at 67%.

So, what do the esteemed CU say now that their last argument against an English Parliament has been shot down? Yep, you guessed it- “Ok, we can see the blindingly obvious. The CEP were right”.

Erm, no. Try again. How about this sour little whimper: “But all three polls asked a somewhat loaded question with a simple yes/no choice rather than offering policy alternatives.”

That’s right. They didn’t like the way the questions were framed. In particular, they said the questions were “loaded” (I bet Ipsos Mori and ICM have something to say about that!), and that the questions didn’t offer any policy alternatives. Well, neither did the north-east referendum.
A referendum on an English Parliament would ask the public something similar to a “Yes or No” question. It’s simple. There’s no confusion. And if we had one tomorrow, we’d have an English Parliament overnight.

The Constitution Unit remains completely blinkered to the reality. It is such a shame that such narrow-minded and subjective opinions can be portrayed as "independent". You've got a chance to have your say.

No comments: