One question, which has been repeated from similar BBC/ICM polls over the last few years, enquired about constitutional preferences. Respondents were presented with several options as to how Wales might be governed and asked ‘Which of these statements comes closest to your view?’ Fortunately, the BBC have retained a consistent question wording (as well as the same polling methodology and company conducting the work) on this question for several years. We can therefore legitimately look at changes in the figures over time – we are comparing like with like.
The results for 2018 (with changes on the identical question in last year’s poll in brackets) were as follows:
Wales should become independent, separate from the UK: 7% (+1)
The Welsh Assembly should have more powers than it currently has: 44% (no change)
The powers the Welsh Assembly currently has are sufficient and should remain as it is now: 28% (-1)
The Welsh Assembly should have fewer powers than it currently has: 4% (+1)
The Welsh Assembly should be abolished and Wales governed directly from Westminster: 12% (-1)
None of these: 1%
Don’t Know: 4% (+1)
In short, we see remarkably little change on the results from a year ago. All the political tumult of the last twelve months – including a general election, and the ongoing saga of Brexit – have apparently made virtually no difference to how the people of Wales wish to be governed. All the changes in the figures we see are tiny, and easily accountable for by sampling variation from one poll to the next.
The bigger picture is that, very much in line with the results of just about every survey that has asked this type of question for more than a decade and a half, there is clear majority support for devolution in Wales. Public appetite either for independence or for the abolition of devolution continues to be very limited. Most people in Wales seem to want some self-government but to remain within the UK. But among those people, and again in line with the bulk of the evidence in recent years, the BBC/ICM survey finds that more support some enhancement of devolution.
As mentioned above, this was the latest BBC/ICM poll to ask about constitutional preferences in Wales using this methodology. The following table shows the pattern of responses in all these polls:
|September 2014||March 2015||March 2016||March 2017||March 2018|
|Remain as present||26%||33%||30%||29%||28%|
In short, other than in the first of these polls, which was conducted in the immediate aftermath of the Scottish independence referendum and which showed both unusually low levels of support for independence and an unusually high level of support for ‘More Powers’, there has been very change in these polls over time. Whatever else is changing in politics, how the Welsh wish to be governed does not seem to be changing. Substantial devolution within the UK remains clearly the most popular option.