Monday, 22 September 2008

National Assembly for Wales Survey Results

I must say that I was alarmed (not) by the Assembly's positive spin in their statement "One of the most comprehensive surveys undertaken in Wales to gauge public understanding of the Principality’s political landscape has shown that 70% of people want Wales to have either full or partial devolution."

Lib Dem Commissioner in the Assembly, Peter Black AM has provided us with a full account:

The Assembly Commission has just published the results of the most comprehensive survey undertaken in Wales to gauge public understanding of the nation’s political landscape.

The survey was commissioned by the National Assembly for Wales and carried out by Aberystwyth University's Institute of Welsh Politics in collaboration with GfKNOP. It involved questioning over 2,500 people in June and July 2008.

When questioned, the majority of respondents (39%) wanted Wales to remain part of the UK but to have its own elected Parliament with full law-making and taxation powers. 31% of the people questioned wanted the Assembly to retain its current level of powers and 10% wanted Wales to become a fully independent nation.

Of the remaining respondents, 15% wanted to return to the pre-devolution status and 6% expressed a ‘don’t know’ opinion.The survey indicated that this preferred constitutional status was based on a robust level of political understanding among respondents. When asked to identify the scope of the National Assembly for Wales’ law-making powers, 77% correctly identified that it “has powers to make laws in a number of areas, and these can be expanded with the agreement of the UK parliament’.

The survey also indicated that there is an increasing homogenisation of opinion and understanding across Wales. Previous surveys had seen variations in levels of support across various regions. However, the National Assembly for Wales survey indicated that there was more consistency in people’s aspirations towards devolution across the country, and aligned to this was a greater consistency in levels of understanding. (There was a modest regional difference in understanding across Wales on the Welsh Assembly’s law-making powers, with 72% of people in North Wales giving the correct answer, compared to 83% in South East Wales.)

However, the survey also indicated that many Welsh citizens are unclear about the distinction between the National Assembly for Wales and the Welsh Assembly Government, with 52% admitting that they know only “a little” about the National Assembly for Wales.

I was particularly intriqued by the question which sought to determine how people get their information about the Assembly and Welsh politics. In percentage terms this is summarised as follows:

TV News (87%)
Friends, family and word of mouth (66%)
Local newspapers (64%)
British newspapers (56%)
National Welsh newspapers, Western Mail and Daily Post (39%)
BBC Radio, such as Radio 4 and 5Live (42%)
The Internet (37%)
Radio Wales/Radio Cymru (36%)
Commercial Radio News (23%)

Note the relatively high score for the internet. The breakdown of which daily newspapers the respondents rely on for news is also interesting:

Daily Mail (named by 12.8% of all survey respondents)
Daily Mirror (9.5%)
The Sun (9.1%)
Western Mail (6.3%)
South Wales Echo (5.0%)
Daily Telegraph (4.8%)
The Times (4.3%)
Daily Express (4.2%)
Daily Post (3.6%)
South Wales Evening Post (3.5%)
The Guardian (3.2%)
South Wales Argus (2.8%)
The Independent (2.0%)
Daily Star (1.7%)
Evening Leader (1.5%)
Wrexham Evening Leader (0.9%)

The Western Mail confirms its position as the pre-dominant Welsh newspaper even if its circulation is lower than more local offerings such as the South Wales Echo and the Evening Post. Top of the heap though is the Daily Mail. What is that all about?

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