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About this book

Fully revised, the new edition of this popular textbook provides an authoritative introduction to all aspects of contemporary Scottish politics and gives a full analysis of the SNP's first majority government.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. What is Scottish Politics?

Abstract
The election of the Scottish National Party (SNP) majority administration in 2011 was a watershed moment in Scottish politics and pushed the constitutional issue to the fore. It is likely to earn its place in the Scottish history books regardless of what follows. It may be marked as the beginning of the end of Scotland’s membership of the United Kingdom, or the end of the beginning of devolution. It was historic in many ways — it was Scotland’s first majority administration; it was the first time a majority on the floor of the Scottish Parliament favoured independence; and it could signal what Hassan and Shaw (2012) term the end of ‘Labour Scotland’. It undoubtedly reconfigured both external and internal understandings of ‘Scottish Politics’.
Paul Cairney, Neil McGarvey

Chapter 2. Devolution: Historical, Social and Economic Context

Abstract
Scottish politics today is not taking place within a vacuum — important legacies from previous developments and external influences continue to shape and structure Scottish political institutions and behaviour. Therefore, any examination of Scottish politics should look well beyond political institutions and the establishment of the modern parliament in 1999. This chapter places Scottish politics in its wider historical, social and economic setting. We also consider the role of the media as an important source of context for policy-makers when they make decisions.
Paul Cairney, Neil McGarvey

Chapter 3. Scotland’s Political Parties

Abstract
Since devolution in 1999, Scotland’s political party system and the parties have undergone significant transformation. The dominance of Labour in electoral politics has ended, the SNP has grown organizationally and electorally and a new multi-party system has emerged in the Scottish Parliament. Somewhat ironically, given their respective electoral systems, from 2011 Scotland had single-party government while the UK had two parties in coalition government.
Paul Cairney, Neil McGarvey

Chapter 4. Scottish Elections and Voting Behaviour

Abstract
In this chapter we examine the new electoral systems, voting behaviour and political campaigning in an age of multi-level elections in Scotland. Increased volatility and divergence between Scottish and British electoral behaviour is evident. The UK-based parties, although playing a key role in integrating Scotland into the British political system, have also increasingly sought to accommodate Scottish interests.
Paul Cairney, Neil McGarvey

Chapter 5. The Scottish Parliament and ‘New Politics’

Abstract
Most hopes for a new type of politics in Scotland were invested in the structure of the Scottish Parliament and the role of MSPs. The Consultative Steering Group (CSG) sought to enhance Parliament’s ability to monitor the Scottish Government’s policies, set the agenda through the inquiries process and initiate its own legislation if it identified gaps in Government policy (Box 5.1 outlines these and other commonly cited functions of parliaments in liberal democracies). At the heart of this new process is the role of parliamentary committees which were given more powers and a potentially greater policy role than their Westminster counterparts. New politics also involves the participation of more individuals and groups or a means to include ‘excluded’ groups. Consequently, the Scottish Parliament has become the hub for initiatives to foster wider public engagement and encourage ‘participatory’ and ‘deliberative’ forms of democracy. It has also provided a means to improve the ‘representativeness’ of elected members in terms of their social backgrounds (including their gender, race and class). Overall, the idea was that the Scottish Government would share power with the Scottish Parliament which would, in turn, be more representative of its population and foster popular participation through mechanisms such as a petitions process and civic forum. This was an ambitious set of aims.
Paul Cairney, Neil McGarvey

Chapter 6. The Scottish Government

Abstract
The Scottish Government is at the heart of Scotland’s new political system. This was not the case before 1999. Instead, the Scottish Office was a territorial department devoted primarily to implementing and adapting UK policies. Devolution was therefore more about a shift in power and responsibility between executives than new forms of public and parliamentary participation. Scotland’s central government has changed significantly over the decades rather than merely since 1999. The Scottish Office was established in 1885 and, for a long time, was a patchwork of loosely related departments. A corporate structure emerged in the latter half of the twentieth century. Predevolution, the Scottish Office lacked democratic legitimacy and was an example of administrative devolution (Mitchell, 2003a: 215).
Paul Cairney, Neil McGarvey

Chapter 7. Governance Beyond the Scottish Government

Abstract
The Scottish Government is at the centre of a broad and eclectic range of institutions that deliver public policy in Scotland. It does not ‘execute’ many of the public policies over which it has responsibility. Public policies tend to be implemented by other types of institutions, agencies and bodies. Policy networks play a significant role. It is a flawed assumption that ‘orders’ from the Scottish Government will naturally lead to compliance by the institutions involved in public service delivery. Instead, the policy-making and service delivery processes involve a multitude of networks of actors. Lipsky (1971) referred to the power of ‘street level bureaucrats’ who deliver public policies — these may be teachers, doctors, nurses, social workers, housing officers or the like. These individuals, the institutions they work for and the unions, professional associations and interest groups that represent them, all play a significant role in Scottish politics and governance. Further, many of these organizations had been involved in Scottish policy-making long before the Scottish Parliament was established in 1999; many contemporary Scottish governance arrangements are built on inherited structures (Parry, 2009: 138).
Paul Cairney, Neil McGarvey

Chapter 8. Pressure Politics and the ‘Scottish Policy Style’

Abstract
In Chapter 5 we suggested that the Scottish Parliament did not foster new and effective forms of deliberative and participatory democracy. We highlighted the similarities between the Westminster and Holyrood systems and argued that, in both, most policy is formulated outside the legislative arena following regular consultation between governments and pressure participants such as interest groups. In this chapter we examine the extent to which that process of policy-making is distinctive in Scotland following devolution. In other words, is there a ‘Scottish Policy Style’? Policy style refers simply to the ways in which governments make and implement policy (Richardson, 1982). It has two dimensions: the way that governments make policy, in consultation with pressure participants, and the way that they implement policy in partnership with organizations such as local authorities.
Paul Cairney, Neil McGarvey

Chapter 9. Public Policy in Scotland since Devolution

Abstract
In this chapter we move from the previous chapter’s focus on the policy process to examine the extent to which the new political arrangements in Scotland have produced new policy outputs. Such discussions often focus on the extent of policy divergence and difference between Scotland and England (or the rest of the UK) as a key test of devolution. On the basis of differing social and party attitudes and the need for ‘Scottish solutions to Scottish problems’ there were widespread expectations of divergence as soon as the Scottish Parliament had the opportunity to legislate. To a great extent, this picture of a ‘rush to policy’ has been confirmed since devolution, with 180 pieces of primary legislation passed in three four-year parliamentary terms. Yet, there are three main qualifications to the idea of Scotland as a source of fast-paced policy divergence.
Paul Cairney, Neil McGarvey

Chapter 10. Intergovernmental Relations and Multilevel Governance

Abstract
Since 1999, the Scottish Government and Parliament have had greater scope to dictate the direction of public policies in Scotland. However, while political devolution has now strengthened the legitimacy of the Scottish Government, the resources and ultimate constitutional legitimacy still officially reside in London. This power has been compounded by the increasing ‘Europeanization’ of devolved policies and the need to liaise with the UK as the member state. Therefore, in common with other devolved and federal systems there exists a range of intergovernmental relations (IGR) mechanisms to manage this combination of the devolution of policy responsibilities and the maintenance of central control in key areas.
Paul Cairney, Neil McGarvey

Chapter 11. Money and Power: Public Expenditure in Scotland

Abstract
In this chapter we discuss public finance, perhaps the most important aspect of the political process. Yet, despite the importance of finance to Scottish politics, and long running debates producing calls for reform, the system of raising and distributing money has not changed since devolution. Scotland continues to receive almost all of its funding for public expenditure from the UK Treasury in the form of a block grant. The arrangements for the transfer of this money are almost identical to those which existed pre-1999 and reflect the continued use of the Barnett formula to alter the block grant at the margins.
Paul Cairney, Neil McGarvey

Chapter 12. Constitutional Change and the Referendum on Independence

Abstract
No issue in Scottish politics receives more attention than constitutional change. To some extent, devolution in 1999 provided a brief window of opportunity to focus primarily on new Scottish politics and policy-making, but there has always been some degree of attention to the idea of further devolution or independence. This attention rose again in the run up to the SNP’s election win in 2007, and it stayed high on the agenda because there was so much controversy regarding the issue of a referendum on independence. This event did not take place, because the minority SNP Government did not secure majority support in Parliament to pass the necessary legislation, but attention to the possibility of a referendum has been ever-present. Media attention began to peak as soon as the SNP won majority status in the Scottish Parliament in 2011 and all but guaranteed that it would hold a referendum on independence in that parliamentary session.
Paul Cairney, Neil McGarvey

Chapter 13. Conclusion

Abstract
Devolution has already become a settled part of the UK’s constitutional landscape. Far more people support devolution than a return to Scotland without its own Parliament. Further, although surveys may identify often-high levels of dissatisfaction with politics in Scotland, they also suggest that Westminster gets the blame; the vastly favoured response is to give the Scottish Parliament more powers (short of independence) to deal with the problem. For example, most people think that the Scottish Parliament (as the body representing ‘devolution’ in such questions) has achieved ‘a little’ or ‘nothing at all’; the general response is that it has ‘made no difference’ to Scottish politics and policy-making. However, most people also choose Scottish institutions when asked ‘Who ought to have the most influence over the way Scotland is run?’ or if asked about who is most likely to ‘work in Scotland’s interests’ (see Cairney, 2011a: 157–65 which draws on reports by John Curtice).
Paul Cairney, Neil McGarvey
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