In our second virtual issue of 2021, we focus on central-local relations and feature some of the latest research on that topic from a range of different perspectives and three quite different political systems. Against a backdrop of austerity coupled with an imminent global recession resulting from the pandemic, the politics of central-local relations and their impact on policy are, we believe, even more topical than ever. So we hope that you enjoy this short collection featuring some of our most recent scholarship on this theme. Continue reading →
The Commission is launching its report at a round table event at the Institute for Government on 3rd March 2016. The report offers some reflections on the process of decision making around the devolution deals to date. It draws on the shared learning and experiences of key actors involved to identify elements that have worked well and also potential areas for improvement. It concludes that the devolution agenda offers a real opportunity to empower local areas, boost economic productivity and improve public services. Yet, there is a danger that the initiative will falter in the absence of greater clarity around process and enhanced local ownership of decision making. Continue reading →
This is an introduction to the Open Access journal article – “The ‘Scottish approach’ to policy and policymaking: what issues are territorial and what are universal?” by Paul Cairney, Siabhainn Russell, and Emily St Denny, in Policy and Politics.
The ‘Scottish approach’ refers to the Scottish Government’s reputation for pursuing a consultative and cooperative style when it makes and implements policy in devolved areas (including health, education, local government and justice). It works with voluntary groups, unions, professional bodies, the private sector and local and health authorities to gather information and foster support for its policy aims. This approach extends to policy delivery, with the Scottish Government willing to produce a broad national strategy and series of priorities – underpinned by the ‘National Performance Framework’ – and trust bodies such as local authorities to meet its aims. In turn, local authorities work with a wide range of bodies in the public, voluntary and private sector – in ‘Community Planning Partnerships’ – to produce shared aims relevant to their local areas. ‘Single Outcome Agreements’ mark a symbolic shift away from ‘topdown’ implementation, in which local authorities and other bodies are punished if they do not meet short-term targets, towards the production of longer-term shared aims and cooperation. Continue reading →
In the last few months, an intensive spotlight has been thrown on Scottish government and politics. First, almost 45% of the voters supported leaving the UK and second a consensus has emerged that the Scottish Parliament should acquire additional powers. Latterly, opinion polls have chronicled a surge in support for the SNP and potential electoral doom for Labour in Scotland and perhaps consequentially at UK level. These contemporary events provided a good forward for research I have been undertaking over the last few years on scrutiny in the Scottish Parliament. The central themes perhaps being is this resurgent self-confidence in Scottish institutions justified? And how do they differ from those at UK level?
The research looked at the nature of the committee scrutiny at the Parliament in terms of the selection of committee Continue reading →
The Scottish referendum has left Westminster politicians reeling. Alongside seeking a rapid constitutional fix in response to demands for the devolution of greater powers and resources to Edinburgh, the unanswered ‘English Question’, for so long merely the concern of constitutional anoraks, has taken centre stage. For decades political devolution in the UK was viewed as being confined to the Celtic fringe and despite rumblings of dissatisfaction around the West Lothian Question, politicians of all persuasions seemed content to ignore its wider and longer term potential impacts on UK government. In the absence of viable alternatives and perceived public apathy it seemed wise to leave the ‘English Question’ unanswered. The events in Scotland suggest that this approach is now untenable. Continue reading →
The Flower of Scotland may well be blooming but a number of thorny issues face the Prime Minister and the leaders of the main parties in the UK. The Prime Minister’s commitment to a ‘new and fair constitutional settlement’ not just for Scotland but for the whole of the United Kingdom may well reflect the need to think in a joined-up manner about constitutional reform and the devolution of power, but the simple rhetoric cannot veil the complexity of the challenges ahead.
Instead of waking up as the Prime Minister who dis-united the UK David Cameron has suddenly emerged as the great reforming Prime Minister. Democracy could not be ducked, hard choices had to be made, democratic pressures vented and now Scotland had clearly Continue reading →
Since first posting it appears that the gap between the yes and no votes is narrowing, suggesting that a yes vote may not be so unlikely after all. Whether this means that Scottish citizens are now tending towards voting with their hearts rather than their heads is another matter. In any case, if you would like to comment, please do so below.
Is the UK really in danger of dis-uniting? The answer is ‘no’. But the more interesting answer is that the independence referendum is, to some extent, a red herring. The nationalists may well ‘lose’ the referendum but they have already ‘won’ the bigger political battle over power and money. All the main political parties in the UK have agreed give Scotland more powers and more financial competencies – or what is called ‘devo-max’ irrespective of what happens on 18 September. Continue reading →