The Scottish Govt claim a new social attitudes survey shows they have the trust of the people – but is it true?


CommonSpace breaks down a recent survey and asks if the Scottish government really do have the trust of the people?

AFTER the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey was released yesterday [26th June], the SNP’s Cabinet Secretary for Finance and the Constitution, Derek Mackay said the figures “show we are maintaining the trust of the Scottish people.” 

CommonSpace examines the six issues the public were surveyed upon to discover if the SNP are maintaining the trust of the Scottish people, as Mackay claimed.

Trust in government

61 per cent of people say they trusted the Scottish Government to work in their best interests, but this is down on the previous year when the figure was 65 per cent. The proportion of people who said they trusted the UK Government to work in Scotland’s interests was just 20 per cent, however. This compared with 25 per cent last year, showing trust in government is down across the board in Scotland. 

What government has the most influence on Scotland?

When asked which government has the most influence over the way Scotland is run, 43 per cent of people said the Scottish Government, 41 per cent said the UK Government, five per cent said local councils and seven per cent said the European Union. During the first decade of devolution, considerably more people said that the UK Government had most influence. The gap has narrowed over time and 2016 was the first year in the series of these surveys that people were more likely to say that the Scottish Government has the most influence. Again this year it was seen as more influential, showing a growing feeling that the Scottish Government’s power is on the rise.


Importance of the Scottish Parliament in the UK

In 2017, the proportion of people who said that having a Scottish Parliament is giving Scotland a stronger voice in the UK was sixty four per cent. This compared with 71 per cent in 2016 and represents another fall and a fairly significant one at seven per cent. With Brexit in mind – 63 per cent of Scots voted Remain – this is hardly surprising, and given recent events it may be the case that this number falls further in the next survey.


Importance of Voting

The survey shows that 92 per cent of people said that voting in the Scottish Parliament elections was ‘very important’ or ‘fairly important’. For local council elections, this figure was 88 per cent while for UK general elections it was 87 per cent. This represents a significant change. When these questions were first asked in 2005, 82 per cent of people said that voting in Scottish Parliamentary elections was ‘very important’ or ‘fairly important’, the same figure as for local elections, with UK General Elections at 85 per cent. The focus of political concern has clearly shifted from Westminster to Holyrood for many Scots.

Strength of the economy

Half of Scots said that Scotland’s economy had weakened ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’ in the past year. This compared with 54 per cent last year. Of those who said the economy had weakened, 39 per cent attributed this to UK Government policies, 29 per cent attributed this to Scottish Government policies, and fifteen per cent to ‘some other reason’. Of those who said the economy had improved, 68 per cent attributed this to Scottish Government policies, 10 per cent to UK Government policies and 14 per cent to ‘some other reason’. There is clearly little favourability towards UK Government economic policy in Scotland.

READ MORE: Survey reveals over half of Scots now believe standards of living are falling

Feelings on the general standard of living are even more alarming, with a jump in those who feel like things are getting worse from 36 per cent to 56 per cent. This is a remarkable rise in just one year. 5o per cent of those who feel things are getting worse blame it on the UK Government, compared to 16 per cent who blame the Scottish Government. 


55 per cent of people reported that they were ‘satisfied’ or ‘very satisfied’ with the way the NHS runs nowadays. This compared with 60 per cent in 2016 and represents another slide. 30 per cent of people said they were dissatisfied and 15 per cent were neither satisfied or dissatisfied. 49 per cent of people said that standards in the health service had fallen ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’ in the past year. This compared with 37 per cent in 2016. 36 per cent of people said standards had stayed the same, nine per cent said they had increased ‘a little’ or ‘a lot’. With a new Health Minister appointed yesterday, there is some work to be done to convince Scots that the Scottish Government can improve the NHS.



In conclusion, the Scottish people are not as happy with their lot as they were last year. While the majority of their ire is directed towards the UK Government, the Scottish Government has work to do as well to maintain Scots support, especially on the NHS. The bigger conclusion to draw from this survey than any party political point is

Picture courtesy of The Scottish Government