The Government of Scotland: Public Policy Making after Devolution

The Government of Scotland: Public Policy Making after Devolution

The Government of Scotland: Public Policy Making after Devolution

The Government of Scotland: Public Policy Making after Devolution

Synopsis

This book offers a comprehensive account of the policy process in contemporary Scotland. It identifies the key actors and institutions, patterns of policymaking, and the extent of convergence and divergence in comparison with England and other devolved territories.

Case studies of policymaking in urban and rural policy, education, social inclusion, and economic development allow the reader to see policymaking in practice. There is an analysis of financial planning and decision making, and an examination of Scotland's role in U.K. and European policy networks. Comparisons are made with other devolved governments in Europe and beyond.

The book is based on extensive research, including interviews with leaders of interest groups, politicians and officials across the Scottish Executive and in the Scottish Parliament, an analysis of spending patterns, an examination of the legislative output, and case studies of policymaking.

Excerpt

It has always been difficult to explain Scotland to foreigners. Having protested that it is not part of England, we have to explain that it is a nation but without its own state, it fields its own international football team has but no seat at the United Nations or the European Union, and it has its own parliament but sends members to the UK parliament. Then we need to say that the United Kingdom is not a federation, since there is no English parliament, but that it is not a unitary state either. The UK’s ‘union-state’ (Rokkan and Urwin 1983) or ‘state of unions’ (Mitchell 2009) is indeed an unusual constitutional animal, which is difficult to fit into the standard categories of political and legal analysis. It is the product of a haphazard evolution, lacking a codified written constitution or a founding moment such as other countries experienced as a result of revolution or independence. More than the typical nineteenth-century ‘nationstate’ found across much of Europe, the United Kingdom resembles an ancien régime, the sort of untidy mixed constitution that prevailed more widely before the rise of the consolidated, rational state whose archetype is France. The UK’s most recent changes, in 1999, are part of this gradual mutation. Until recently, it was common in progressive circles to lament this ancient and unmodernised constitution and to blame it for the secular decline of the United Kingdom as an economic and political power. There may still be force in this critique, but ironically it may be precisely the failure of the UK to convert itself into a modern, uniform nation-state that gives it the flexibility to respond to the radically changed circumstances of governing in the twenty-first century. With only a little exaggeration . . .

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