Over the next few weeks we will be re-aligning the much loved What Scotland Thinks website. Ever popular during the Scottish independence referendum, we’re developing the remit of the site to bring the content up to date and also include matters that concern the rest of the UK.
Constitutional change debate
Irrespective of anyone’s views on Scottish independence, there is no doubt that last September’s referendum brought constitutional change to the foreground of politics, sparking an unprecedented level of interest in the topic. To some extent, this interest has spread south of the border. Issues such as English votes for English laws (EVEL), greater devolution for Wales and the call for more powers to English regions are currently very much part of mainstream political debate. UK political polling has reflected many of these issues and it would be a shame to not include more of this data on What Scotland Thinks.
What’s going to change and what’s staying the same?
The overall structure of What Scotland Thinks will stay the same and a large proportion of the content will still be opinions of the Scottish public on how Scotland should be governed – so regular users don’t need to worry. Between now and May 2016, many of the blogs will inevitably be in response to Scottish election polling. However the topics, polling data and focus of the blogs are being updated to take into account:
1) a different political context in which a Scottish independence referendum is not imminent, but more devolution is,
2) the moves being made in England to introduce EVEL and city-regions, and in Wales to give the National Assembly tax powers.
We have always had one small section of the site devoted to views in the rest of the UK but now have plans to expand and improve it.One vastly important UK constitutional issue that will not feature on this site is the EU referendum. This is because we will be launching a new site for this purpose in October! The site is part of a wider project UK in a Changing Europe (funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC)).
An additional part of this website update will be a tighter-knit relationship with the Centre for Constitutional Change (also funded by the ESRC) with more shared links between the sites and greater cross-over of content.
Why these changes now?
For some time now, What Scotland Thinks has been operating with no external funding. Regular users may have noticed that some content (for example the topic descriptions) is quite out of date – the site was set up to track attitudes to the Scottish independence referendum and for the most part has stayed the same since it was launched.
Now, however, thanks to a new grant from the ESRC we can put time and resources towards remedying this. In the next few weeks you may notice some changes to content and, on the odd occasion, some of the polling data pages will be out of action. Please be patient if a page is temporarily unavailable. If you have any persistent technical problems with the site, you can email me on firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet @AnnieLWild. The launch of the refreshed site will be on September 2nd and will be announced via @scotcen and @whatscotsthink.