CHAPTER NINE: CONCLUSIONS
9.1 As discussed in the opening chapter of this report, one of the founding principles of the Scottish Social Attitudes survey was to develop time series data about public attitudes towards a range of social and political issues. This report has presented a number of tables and figures which illustrate how views have been changing over the past six years. One very clear pattern particularly stands out in relation to the issues of trust, influence, and broader perceptions of devolution: views are not static. It is not yet possible to identify possible explanations why views have sometimes been quite different over the year (the most notable being the undulating patterns evident in Figures 3.1, 4.1 and 5.4 ). Chapter 3 suggested that the coincidence of elections (to Holyrood in 1999 and 2003, and Westminster in 2001) might in part explain why views are different in odd and even years. The 2005 survey will provide one more round of data from an election year with which to compare views over time so it might be possible to draw firmer conclusions once that has been conducted.
9.2 Chapter 2 presented interesting results about people's knowledge of the Scottish Executive and Scotland's devolved institutions more generally. This will be interesting to monitor over time as public exposure to the Executive's activities becomes more diffuse. Looking a bit further forward, it will be particularly interesting to see whether young people leaving school in 2011 (who started school in the same year the Scottish Parliament opened) are more or less knowledgeable than young people were in 2004. It will also be possible to establish whether young people in particular have grown more knowledgeable a result of their exposure to issues about Scottish government through schooling, or whether the population as a whole has changed.
9.3 Chapter 7 saw some interesting patterns in relation to people's apportioning of responsibility for standards of public services. People are gradually becoming more likely to apportion responsibility to the Scottish Executive for policy areas directly within their remit such as health and education, though with health people have not yet settled for either the Executive or the UK Government in any consistent way. 2005 has seen a large number of key announcements in relation to Scotland's health service (for example the Kerr Report into hospital services, or problems with NHS 24). It will be interesting to see whether people in 2005 looking back at the performance of the health service over the previous twelve months are more likely than people were in 2004 to apportion responsibility at the door of the Executive.