Who Governs Scotland?

Who Governs Scotland?

Who Governs Scotland?

Who Governs Scotland?

Excerpt

The research for this book started in 1993, a year after the Conservatives were returned to office at Westminster and constitutional change appeared as distant as ever. Even so, following Maastricht it was clear that the EU and its policies were having an ever increasing impact on Scotland. In addition, the SNP's call for Scottish independence in Europe raised the prospect that Scotland would be better off seceding from the UK and becoming a member state of the EU in its own right. Cumulatively, these various dynamics formed the kernel of the original research project which ran from 1993 until 1997. This explored the following hypotheses: that Scottish organisations and institutions by-passed 'London' at times and dealt with the EU direct; that they had undergone structural re-organisation as a result of the EU; that they had formulated an EU strategy; and that they possessed the potential to influence the EU.

The subsequent study proved to be something of a Herculean task. Part of the research was through interviews with officials in governmental bodies and agencies (e.g. the former Scottish Office, the Regional Councils, with the exception of Tayside, the Enterprise Companies and other quangos). Interviews were also conducted with peak associations such as CBI Scotland and the STUC and with a plethora of pressure groups along with multinational companies such as BP. In themselves interviews are vulnerable to bias (both the author's and the interviewee's). To offset that as much as possible, I used official papers at the Scottish Records Office and government publications. In order to explore Scotland's relations with the EU in more detail, two areas of policy were examined rather more intensely: the structural Funds and the Common Fisheries Policy (CFP). The net result was a wide-ranging study, which was completed in 1997. It concluded that Scotland's influence in the EU was quite limited. But by then, Labour had won its election victory and Scotland looked set to have its own parliament once again.

Consequently, further research was undertaken in order to ensure that this book would be something of a comparative study. The first phase ran between 1998 and 1999. It followed the evolution of the new constitutional arrangements and it assessed how they might affect Scotland's relations with the EU. The second phase ran from 1999 to 2003. It assessed how Scotland conducted its relations both with the EU and with the wider world during the parliament's first four-year term.

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