The Scottish independence referendum and the British voter: an enhancement to the British Election Study Internet Panel.

Lead Research Organisation: University of Manchester
Department Name: Social Sciences

Abstract

This proposal seeks to provide evidence to inform scholarly research and public understanding of the causes and consequences of attitudes towards Scottish independence and the devolution of powers from Westminster to national or regional bodies. To achieve this it will extend the remit of the internet panel elements of the British Election Study to provide panel data in the period leading up to and after the Scottish referendum including, but not limited to, a boosted sample size for Scotland and Wales. This proposal seeks to provide mutual benefits to the Future of Scotland/UK initiative and to the British Election Study by extending the period covered, the content and the size of the Internet panel study in England, Scotland and Wales. The survey would include a full panel (including a substantial Scottish boost) in January 2014, June 2014 and September 2014 (post referendum) and would continue to include relevant follow up questions to the sample in the 2015 pre/campaign/post-election waves and then in 2016 (local elections and Scottish Elections) and finally in 2017. The proposal will link to the Future of the UK and Scotland initiative, but does not extend to Northern Ireland, as this is outside the remit of the original British Election Study award.

Planned Impact

The BES internet panel constitutes a key research resource for wide range of users beyond academia. The data and associated scholarship serve an important role in understanding the electoral process and the health of our democracy. This will be particularly relevant in the period 2014-2017, due to declining political engagement, the implications of multi-party and multi-level governance (including the Scottish referendum) for accountability, and of economic austerity for political representation.
Beneficiaries: Politicians and parties benefit from understanding the consequences of their policy positions and campaigns, public attitudes towards politics and reasons for vote choice and voter turnout. BES data is beneficial to political actors in Scottish and Welsh government, local government, European parliament elections, mayoral government, and to independence referendum campaigners in Scotland. BES data has international value in our proposal by enabling comparison with other countries, benefiting international observers, comparative researchers and politicians. Journalists and commentators benefit from non-partisan analysis and interpretation, and from a high-quality data source; enhancing public understanding via informed commentary. To the extent that effective policy is informed by understanding public preferences and priorities, national, regional and local government policy-makers derive benefits from the understanding of public attitudes. Policy benefits are direct on political reform and on voter registration methods. Beneficiaries also include think tanks, trade unions, commercial and third-sector organisations. Think-tanks and trade unions benefit from understanding public attitudes and political consequences. Commercial pollsters benefit from insights on question design and subsequent analysis, and from scientific capacity-building in the academic analysis of public opinion. Further benefits will accrue to third-sector organisations such as the Electoral Commission and the Hansard Society. The specified organisations will benefit from closely linked BES questionnaire priorities, from research into electoral registration and into political disengagement, accountability and representation, and from shared research goals, and dissemination activities. The enhanced BES internet panel will be of particular value to media commentators, political parties and practitioners and researchers seeking to understand the dynamics of support for Scottish independence in particular and multilevel governance and devolution more generally.
Potential Impacts: The proposed study maximizes opportunities for impact during the four-years of the study, and is expected to achieve impact in subsequent years and elections, as policy-makers respond to the data and the research, and politicians implement changes in strategy. BES data accessibility - to any user - will ensure the longevity of potential impacts. In particular, impacts on national and devolved political party strategies and on policy-making will be maximized via the study design and via a series of additional events around the time of the referendum to be held in Edinburgh, Cardiff and London. Impact on media reporting - and on public understanding of the politics of devolution and the future of the United Kingdom will be on going, regardless of the outcome of the referendum. The collection of political focussed panel data contributes, ultimately, to the nation's wellbeing. This depends, at least in part, upon the relationship between the electorate and its political elites and on the quality of political representation; which the BES is uniquely able to assess.
 
Description The grant resulted in the enhancement of the British Election Study such that two additional waves of the internet panel study were carried out in 2014 , meaning that panel members were interview three times in total in 2014. This included a considerably boosted sample in Scotland, allowing detailed analysis of the factors behind the vote against independence in Scotland. Moreover the additional waves of the panel enhanced the value to all BES users, not just those in Scotland. The two additional waves meant that prior to the General Election of 2015 there had already been fives waves of the panel instead of the originally planned three; and by the end of the grant (September 2017) we had completed thirteen waves. The panel study included batteries of questions designed specifically for Scottish respondents to help researchers understand the factors affecting the referendum vote and its impact on electoral politics. We collaborated with the Scottish Referendum Study to harmonise questions, enhancing the value of both studies. As project is funded as a resource, the creation of datasets was the key objective of the project. The data have been made available through our own dedicated website (http://www.britishelectionstudy.com) and through the UKDS (10.5255/UKDA-SN-8202-1) and have been widely used by the academic community resulting in over 90 academic articles to date.
Research carried out by the British Election Study team looking specifically at the impact of the Scottish Independence Referendum on electoral politics in Scotland is forthcoming in Electoral Studies. The research showed that the Voting in favour of independence led directly to an increase in the probability of voting SNP in the 2015 General Election amongst erstwhile Labour voters. Voting for independence also had an indirect effect on party support by influencing voter attitudes and evaluations. The peak effect of the referendum on changes to party identity, attitudes and vote choice was immediately after the referendum, but it continued to have an effect on each through to the General Election. The impact of the referendum was found to be more about how attitudes became realigned to party support than it was about changing people minds about key issues. Overall the Scottish independence referendum had a profound re-aligning effect on party support and identification in Scotland. The findings showed more generally how a referendum, because it creates new political identities and rivalries, can have spill over effects on first-order elections. It also provides an example of how a political shocks can have a significant impact on party politics, an argument developed in the forthcoming BES book covering 2015 and 2017.
Exploitation Route The data are being widely used by academics, media and political researchers to understand developments in British Politics, and we have put into place a number of measures to widen access and promote usage. As noted above, the data have been made available through our own dedicated website (http://www.britishelectionstudy.com) and through the UKDS (10.5255/UKDA-SN-8202-1) and have been widely used by the academic community resulting in over 90 academic articles to date.
Sectors Communities and Social Services/Policy,Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Other

URL http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/
 
Description As a resource many of impacts are through indirect impact of users. However, impact from the BES has been instrumental, conceptual and capacity building by contributing to the understanding of the Scottish independence referendum by evaluating British attitudes in the referendum debate. Findings using BESIP data have been used in blog posts publicised on the BES website specifically on the Scottish referendum, Consultations (e.g the ESRC Future of UK and Scotland event on the Scottish Independence Referendum in London June 2014; PSA media briefing on the Scottish Independence Referendum in London June 2014 where Professor Fieldhouse argued it would be promises of further devolution that would sway the referendum in favour of 'No'; and a BES Consultation on shifting voting preferences in the lead up to the Scottish Independence Referendum in Edinburgh July 2014), the press (BES findings on Scottish Independence findings from wave 1 data featured in: The Herald, The Daily Record, The Scotsman June 2014, BES findings on Scottish Independence changes in voting preferences form wave 1 and wave 2 data featured in: The Financial Times, The Herald Scotland, The Scotsman, The Guardian, The Daily Mail, Daily Record, Scottish Daily Star, The Express Scotland, The Scottish Daily Mail, The Times Scotland July 2014) and tv/radio (BBC Breakfast: Scottish Independence Referendum polls, BBC Essex, BBC Shropshire, BBC Lancashire). The findings have been used to explain various aspects of the Scottish Independence referendum. More generally BESIP wave 1 through wave 6 and the post-election face-to-face survey have been received with huge interest by academics and other researchers working in electoral behaviour; media organisations including TV, radio, social media and newspapers; and political practitioners including political parties and campaigners. For example, Jane Green and Chris Prosser were the only academics asked to contribute to Labour's 'Learning the Lessons' review, chaired by Margaret Beckett. The BES, described as the UK's leading authority on elections, provided material central to the review, which constitutes a key part of Labour's response to defeat. The BES has been a major part of the Market Research Society and British Polling Council commissioned Inquiry into the 2015 Polls. The face-to-face BES data were the first to demonstrate that unrepresentative samples were the cause of the polling misses. The BES forms a major contribution to understanding and finding solutions for the miss, with Jane Green as a member of the inquiry and Jon Mellon and Chris Prosser's analysis of BES data being highly influential. The BES appeared almost daily in the TV, radio, social and print media around election time, the most prominent example being ITV's election night coverage in 2015 and 2017 which featured Jane Green who provided exclusive insights from BES data released and reported on the night. BES data was also used extensively on ITV's coverage of the EU referendum.
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal

 
Title BES Codebook for BES Internet Panel 
Description Questionnaire produced for BES Internet Panel Study data (Waves 1-9). Authored by Jane Green, Ed Fieldhouse, Cees van der Eijk, Geoff Evans ,Jon Mellon and Chris Prosser. 
Type Of Material Data analysis technique 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Produces new material, questions and data for use in BES study. 
URL http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/data-objects/panel-study-data/
 
Title BES expert survey 
Description The 2015 BES is collecting expert data for the first time, which can be linked to the BES voter data. These expert surveys gather information on 'objective' policy positions of BES voter data. The issues on which experts are asked to place the parties correspond to the issues and values which BES voter survey respondents are asked to give their own positions. The combined data can therefore be used to make party-voter comparisons. Created with the support of Thomas Loughran. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact to early to assess 
URL http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/data-objects/expert-survey-data/
 
Title British Election Study Combined Wave 1-13 Internet Panel 
Description A panel dataset including waves 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12 and 13 of the BES Internet Panel. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact there have been over 90 scholarly publication using BES data since the start of the 2015 project. 
URL http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/data-objects/panel-study-data/
 
Title British Election Study Panel 2014-2016 
Description These data represent form part of British Election Study consisting of each of the first nine waves of the Internet Panel. Waves 1-3 cover the Scottish Referendum as well as providing crucial pre-General election data across the whole of Great Britain. Waves 4-6 cover the pre-campaign period, the short campaign and post-election phases of the 2015 General Election. Wave 7-9 cover the pre/campaign and post-EU Referendum Period. The study covers electors who are eligible to vote to vote in any type of UK election (including local and European). The file contains all respondents who took any wave of the study. Around 30,000 respondents were interviewed in each wave (referred to as the full sample). We also release single Waves as standalone files for users who do not require the panel element. The most recent wave to be released (wave 9) was conducted by YouGov between 4th June 2016 and 4th July 2016. In total 30,036 respondents took wave 9, 27,555 of these also took wave 8, an overall wave on wave retention rate of 82.2%. 10,170 respondents took all of the first 9 waves of the survey, 33.6% of respondents who originally took wave 1. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2014 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Our data are being widely used by academics, media and political researchers to understand developments in British Politics, and we are putting into place a number of measures to widen access and promote usage. We have received enthusiastic feedback feedback from the research community about the quality and timeliness of our Data and the BES website which allows direct download of data as well as a dedicated online analysis research tool (the BES data Playground). We anticipate a large range of scholarly research outputs as well as practical applications (as exemplified by the Labour party 'Learning the Lessons' review). 
URL http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/data-objects/panel-study-data/
 
Title British Election Study, 2015: Internet Panel, Waves 1-6 UKDS version 
Description This includes waves 1-6 of the BES 2014-2017 internet panel with additional added detail available only via UKDS including middle layer super output area contextual data. 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2017 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact over 90 academic articles have been published using BES data since 2014 
URL https://discover.ukdataservice.ac.uk/catalogue/?sn=8202&type=Data%20catalogue
 
Description 'The British Electorate in 2015: How the Scottish Referendum Cost Labour'. EPOP annual conference Cardiff 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact 'The British Electorate in 2015: How the Scottish Referendum Cost Labour'. EPOP annual conference Cardiff September 12th 2015
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description BBC Breakfast: Scottish Independence Referendum Polls 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Featured on BBC Breakfast on the Scottish Independence Referendum polls - September

National publicising of BES findings and analysis
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description BBC Radio Scotland 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Ed Fieldhouse on BBC Radio Scotland on how the campaigns are maximising their turnout - September 2014

Regional coverage of BES analysis
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Better Together Whatever Happens? Public Reactions to post-No Scenarios - Rob Johns 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Blog read and shared by audience

Shared by audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/bes-findings/better-together-whatever-happens-public-reactions-t...
 
Description British Election Study Findings: attitudes & preferences towards independence between Feb-March & May-June 2014. BES Consultation: What's Changed? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact British Election Study Findings: attitudes & preferences towards independence between Feb-March & May-June 2014. BES Consultation: What's Changed? 28th July 2014 Edinburgh
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Class Divisions and the Scottish Referendum - Jon Mellon 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Blog read and shared by audience

Shared by audience.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/bes-resources/class-divisions-and-the-scottish-referendum/#.VEoZ...
 
Description Consultation event with experts on Scottish and Welsh politics about BESIP 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Consultation event with Welsh political experts regarding BES Internet Panel

Productive meeting leading to refinement of internet panel
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description DevoManc 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Featured on BBC Breakfast on 'DevoManc' - Colin Talbot

Featured on BBC Breakfast on subject of DevoManc - provided insight and stirred debate
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Devolution Deficit: how the promise of further devolution can save the Union - Ed Fieldhouse 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Blog read and shared by audience

Blog shared by audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/bes-resources/devolution-deficit-how-the-promise-of-further-devo...
 
Description ESRC Future of UK and Scotland 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Presentation at ESRC Future of UK and Scotland event on Scottish Independence Referendum London (June 2014)

Insights given into BES findings on Scottish Independence Referendum
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Elaboration of the impact of Second Order Elections on First Order Elections 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation of paper 'Elaboration of the impact of Second Order Elections on First Order Elections', by Cees van der Eijk at the Annual Conference of EPOP, Cardiff, 12 September 2015
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013,2015
 
Description Guardian Scottish Independence Blog 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Rob Ford featured in Guardian Scottish Independence Blog

National reach
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description PSA Media Briefing on Scottish Independence Referendum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact Presentation at PSA media briefing on Scottish Independence Referendum London (June 2014)

Insights disseminated to media
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Plus ca Change? The ebb and flow of Scottish Referendum voting intention 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Blog read and shared by audience

Blog shared by audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/bes-resources/plus-ca-change-the-ebb-and-flow-of-scottish-refere...
 
Description Presentation at BES Consultation on what voters think and how they will behave in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact A number of media and policy makers attending a talk on voting in the 2014 Scottish Independence Referendum in Edinburgh

Information disseminated
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Presentation of BES Plans for Consultation at EPOP 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Presented BES plans for consultation at EPOP Conference in Lancaster in September 2013

Feedback obtained.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Presentation on BES plans for Consultation at EPOP LSE September 2013 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Presented BES plans for consultation at EPOP Conference at LSE in September 2013

Feedback obtained.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Press release : Economic alternative for Scotland broke Labour's dominance 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Media (as a channel to the public)
Results and Impact First few paragraphs of the press release:
New research from the British Election Study reveals that last year's Scottish referendum effectively finished off Labour's hope of winning north of the border last May.

BES Co-Director Professor Ed Fieldhouse from The University of Manchester says the referendum resulted in more Yes voters switching from Labour to the SNP after the referendum.

However, the economy was still an important factor: Yes voting amongst Labour voters was driven largely by the Yes campaign's offer of an economic alternative for Scotland.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2015
 
Description Scottish Independence - six questions that will help decide the outcome? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Rob Ford featured in Daily Telegraph Article - Scottish Independence - six questions that will help decide the outcome.

Nationally publicised BES findings and analysis
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/robford/100286305/scottish-independence-referendum-six-questions-t...
 
Description Scottish Independence referendum polls 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Rob Ford featured on BBC Breakfast in relation to Scottish Independence referendum polls, also featured on BBC Essex, BBC Shropshire and BBC Lancashire.

National dissemination of BES findings / analysis
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Scottish Referendum features - Rob Ford 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Rob Ford interviewed on Scottish Referendum for BBC Wales, BBC York, BBC Humberside, BBC Bristol, BBC Radio Four, BBC Lincolnshire, BBC Wiltshire, BBC Somerset, BBC Gloucester, BBC2 Network radio news.

National reach on radio in relation to Scottish Independence Referendum
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description Scottish Referendum: What does it mean for England? 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Featured in BBC Online Article - Scottish Referendum: What does it mean for England

Quoted in article to stir debate on Scottish Referendum implications for England and possible devolution of powers to cities - Colin Talbot
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-29235489
 
Description Settled Wills? The Psychology behind stable referendum polls - Rob Johns 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Blog read and shared by audience

Blog shared by audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/bes-resources/settled-wills-the-psychology-behind-stable-referen...
 
Description The BES and the Scottish Constitutional Debate - Carlie Jeffery 
Form Of Engagement Activity A magazine, newsletter or online publication
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact Blog read and shared by audience

Blog shared by audience
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/bes-resources/the-british-election-study-the-scottish-constituti...
 
Description Voting Intention and devolution preferences at the Scottish Referendum. Political Studies Association 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Voting Intention and devolution preferences at the Scottish Referendum. Political Studies Association Media Briefing, Palmer Room at One Great George Street, SW1P 3AA, June 17th 2014
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014,2015
 
Description Wrote blogpost on social class and Scottish referendum voting that was covered by the BBC 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact I wrote a blogpost for the British Election Study website, showing the relationship between Scottish referendum voting and social class. The blogpost was reported on by the BBC website.
http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-29673044
The BBC article said that this research made the link between prosperity and referendum voting more complicated than had previously been thought.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
URL http://www.britishelectionstudy.com/bes-resources/class-divisions-and-the-scottish-referendum/