Scotland

How democratic are the basic structures of the UK’s devolution settlement?

How democratic are the basic structures of the UK’s devolution settlement?

Devolution encompasses a range of quite different solutions in three countries (Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland), plus markedly smaller delegations of powers to London and some English cities and regions. There remain important issues around the stability and effectiveness of these arrangements, which were designed to meet specific demands for national or regional control and to bring government closer to citizens. In an article from our book, The UK’s Changing Democracy, Diana Stirbu and Patrick Dunleavy explore how far relations between Westminster and the key devolved institutions have been handled democratically and effectively.

Schrodinger’s devolution and the potential for ongoing political instability after Brexit

Schrodinger’s devolution and the potential for ongoing political instability after Brexit

Territorial governance in the UK has taken the form of ‘Schrodinger’s devolution’, where the devolved nations both have and have not experienced fundamental constitutional change. But Brexit highlights the need for exact decisions where ambiguity has so far existed, explain Mark Sandford and Cathy Gormley-Heenan.

A changing democracy: the British political tradition has never been more vulnerable

A changing democracy: the British political tradition has never been more vulnerable

Never before has the British political tradition been more contested, write Matthew Hall, David Marsh and Emma Vines. They explain that British democracy is facing three major challenges – Scottish independence, Brexit, and anti-politics – and these have the potential to force change on an otherwise stale political establishment.

How the SNP’s post-referendum membership has changed the party – and what has stayed the same

How the SNP’s post-referendum membership has changed the party – and what has stayed the same

As the SNP meets in Aberdeen for its party conference, James Mitchell looks at the impact of the 2014 post-referendum surge in membership on the party’s organisation and finances, and how this precipitated the proposed changes to the party’s constitution.

Evidence from Scotland and Wales: representatives elected via party lists are less likely to reply to constituents – but we should be careful about the conclusions we draw

Evidence from Scotland and Wales: representatives elected via party lists are less likely to reply to constituents – but we should be careful about the conclusions we draw

Websites such as WriteToThem.com make it simple for constituents to contact their elected representatives, but how responsive are politicians to these communications? And does the system by which they are elected shape their responses? Research by Alex Parsons and Rebecca Rumbul shows that under the UK’s Additional Member Systems, constituency representatives are more likely to reply than those elected via party list. This raises further research questions about the subjects they reply about and different priorities for representatives under this system.

The many roles of manifestos at the subnational level in British general elections

The many roles of manifestos at the subnational level in British general elections

Alistair Clark and Lynn Bennie assess the roles of national party manifestos across Britain, Scotland and Wales in UK-wide general elections, and illustrate the multiple functions these documents perform in complex multilevel systems of government.

The Scottish Parliament has rejected the Brexit bill – are we heading for a second independence referendum?

The Scottish Parliament has rejected the Brexit bill – are we heading for a second independence referendum?

The Scottish Parliament has denied consent to the EU Withdrawal Bill. Akash Paun argues that the Prime Minister now faces an unpalatable choice: concede defeat or help the SNP make the case for a second independence referendum.

How majoritarianism endures in the structures of the UK’s devolved institutions

How majoritarianism endures in the structures of the UK’s devolved institutions

Scotland and Wales’ devolved political institutions, elected under proportional Additional Member electoral systems, were intended to produce a more consensual political culture. However, writes Felicity Matthews, although their electoral rules have increased the proportionality of representation, the structures of the Scottish Parliament and National Assembly for Wales have meant that a more consensual approach to policy-making has been more limited than might have been expected.

On the ballot: how electoral procedures shape the work of Members of the Scottish Parliament

On the ballot: how electoral procedures shape the work of Members of the Scottish Parliament

The electoral system by which members of parliament are elected shapes how legislators perceive their roles. Furthermore, write David C.W. Parker and Caitlyn M. Richter, in the case of the Scottish Parliament, both the electoral system and the change implemented prior to the 2007 election, whereby candidate names were removed from party-list ballots, have an impact on how Members of the Scottish Parliament spend their time and resources.

Brexit means a bleak future for UK public spending and probably for intra-UK governance relations

Brexit means a bleak future for UK public spending and probably for intra-UK governance relations

In the London-centric world of the UK-wide and English media, too little consideration has yet been given to what Brexit means for public spending (almost all of it bad), and for UK-devolved government relations. David Heald explains the need to focus on the long-term important issues.