New data from YouGov Profiles on the major political issues confirms that, taken as a whole, Scottish people are to the left of the rest of Britain across the board
Part of the detailed profile members of YouGov complete is a series of questions about the major political issues. Responses are designed to fall broadly on a five-point scale, from Left to Right, and comparing the average score of two groups proves a useful quick view of their relative positions on the political spectrum. The constituency profiles that will be released in the coming weeks make use of this dataset.
The data can be used to shed light on the overall political positions of whole regions, such as Scotland, which took on particular interest when it looked like Scotland may choose independence. The question would become crucial again if the Scottish National Party succeeds in wiping Labour out in Scotland – and wedging open the door to a Labour-led government at Westminster.
The graphic below shows the difference in average scores between Scotland and the UK as a whole, and strongly suggests that Scottish voters do tend to fall to the Left of the rest of the Britain on nearly every issue YouGov investigated.
Of course no method is perfect, and many of these differences are small, but the trend is clear and seems to run contrary to other academic research that has suggested Scots are not so different from their English and Welsh compatriots as Alex Salmond would have you believe.
It’s worth remembering that the findings are relative. Scotland and Britain as a whole may still both be “right-of-centre” on an issue like capital punishment – in which case, what the Profiles data shows is that Scotland is closer to the centre.
In other words, the findings don’t prove Scots as a group are centrist on wind power or extremely pro-European Union (the left-wing position, for the purposes of this study), though they might be. The findings do show Scots tend to be at least slightly to the left of the rest of the country on most of the issues that shape British politics.
This article has been edited for clarity.