The best of Democratic Audit’s 2015 Scotland coverage

This year, Democratic Audit launched their new Democratic Audit – Scotland blog, which aims to keep tabs on the health and strength of democracy north of the border in the wake of the 2014 referendum on independence. Here, Democratic Audit shares the best of both these posts, and early work by academics on Scotland’s democratic future. 

15826113181_322b5a657b_z (1)Has the tide turned for women’s representation in Scotland? 

Scotland has a female First Minister, who competes in Holyrood with a female Leader of the Scottish Labour Party, as well as a female leader of the Scottish Conservatives. While this should be welcomed, we should not assume that the problem of women’s under representation is solved for good, and instead look at what statutory measures could do to achieve lasting positive change, argue Meryl Kenny, Fiona MacKay, and Cera Murtagh.

6644098243_dcb2003616_z (1)The ‘RISE’ of the Scottish left is challenging the SNP’s hegemony in Scotland 

The SNP under Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership are sweeping all before her, and are on course to win comfortably at the Scottish Parliament elections, held next May. Jenny Morrison looks at the post-referendum increase in left-wing activity, placing it in the context of the independence movement and the election of Jeremy Corbyn as Labour leader.

An Orange March in George Square, Glasgow (Credit: Martyn Jenkins, CC BY NC 2.0)Sectarianism in Scotland is about the hard politics of difference

Scotland, and particularly the West of the country, has a reputation for sectarianism, partly fuelled by the football fans of Rangers and Celtic FC in Glasgow. However, despite the widespread perception that it is a problem, most people feel that it doesn’t affect them personally. David McCrone argues that tackling sectarianism where it does exist is hard as it forces us to confront viewpoints with which we fundamentally disagree – but that the ‘hard politics of difference’ requires Scots to answer existential questions about their identity, and the kinds of people they want to become. 

22030636918_5bb6af03d4_z (1)A below par performance? Donald Trump’s golf resort development and government openness and transparency in Scotland

As Donald Trump’s US presidential candidacy campaign continues to cause controversy, Graeme Baxter reflects on the impact the building of ‘the greatest golf course anywhere in the world’ has had on the openness and transparency of Scottish public authorities.

13957703621_aeddd7d4ee_zThe new top-up powers for Scotland on welfare represent the advent of ‘defensive devolution’

There is a lively debate in Scotland over the extent of the Scottish government’s new powers over welfare, with the Scotland Bill in Westminster being strengthened by Government amendments. Gavin Kelly discusses the political implications of the move, and describes the new arrangement as representing ‘defensive devolution’. 

19349305943_641f12f944_zRecent events regarding ‘stop and search’ in Scotland should deliver some sharp lessons in political accountability

The rise and recent fall of mass stop and search in Scotland is an extraordinary phenomenon. Here, Dr Kath Murray examines the implications for human rights and argues that recent events in Scotland should deliver some sharp lessons in political accountability.


1/4 of the Liberal Democrat parliamentary party (Cabinet Office, CC BY NC 2.0)Whatever the outcome, the petitioning electors from Orkney and Shetland should be applauded for their case against Alistair Carmichael

A recent internal government inquiry found that the then-Secretary of State for Scotland, Alistair Carmichael, was responsible for a leak which saw the details of an alleged conversation between Nicola Sturgeon and the French Ambassador to the UK end up in the hands of the press. Here, Heather Green gives details of a case launched by Carmichael’s constituents in Orkney and Shetland to unseat him, arguing that they should be congratulated given the failure of conventional politics to offer any form of recourse. 


Credit: Policy Network, CC BY 2.0If Scotland’s capacity to run its own affairs is undermined, it may fuel demand for a less dependent relationship with Westminster

The Smith Commission suggested a new basis for the relationship between Westminster and the Scottish Parliament. However, as Nicola McEwan argues, the new settlement could lead to disagreements resulting from the continuing interdependency of the two Parliament, with the potential for renewed Scottish nationalism to be inflamed by the new models inherent tensions. 

Note: this post represents the views of the authors and not those of Democratic Audit UK or the LSE. Please read our comments policy before posting. Cover image credit: Moyan Brenn, CC BY 2.0


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