Scottish Voters Are Unaware of Powers of Parliament, Poll Shows

Only one in seven Scottish voters have a “very good” idea about the powers of the Scottish Parliament set up in 1999 with two in five having “very little” idea of its duties, showed a poll published today.

The poll, commissioned by billionaire U.K. lawmaker and businessman Michael Ashcroft, said that people who support the governing Scottish National Party are better informed than voters backing other political parties. Men also have a greater understanding than women of the powers of the semi-autonomous legislature, the poll showed.

The Parliament, based in the capital Edinburgh, legislates on transport, health, justice, education and social affairs while the U.K. parliament in London controls broader economic policy as well as defense, foreign affairs and welfare.

Voters want the government to focus most on the economy and jobs rather than on seeking independence for Scotland from the rest of the U.K., according to the poll of 1,013 people conducted between Aug. 2 and Aug. 9. Independence is the SNP’s flagship policy and a referendum will be held on Sept. 18 next year.

A separate poll of 10,007 voters conducted between February and May showed 65 percent opposed to independence and 26 percent in favor, Ashcroft said. A poll of 3,090 Scots Ashcroft undertook in January showed 61 percent wanting to stay in the U.K. with 39 percent opting to leave.

Still, the SNP would win an election to the Parliament ahead of Labour, according to a third survey of 1,000 adults carried out in June by Ashcroft.

Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has the highest positive rating of any of the four main party leaders as well as the highest negative rating. Johann Lamont, who heads the main opposition Labour Party, is the only leader with a net positive rating.

The polls didn’t specify a margin of error.

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