This book is an in-depth comparative study of Scottish devolution and an analysis of the impact of the European dimension. With a focus on the periods leading up to the referendums in 1979 and 1997, it investigates positions and strategies of political parties and interest groups, and how these influenced constitutional preferences at mass level and, ultimately, the referendum results themselves. Based on analysis of an extensive body of quantitative and qualitative sources, the book builds an argument which challenges the widespread thesis that support for devolution was a consequence of Conservative rule between 1979 and 1997. It shows that the decisive factors were changing attitudes to independence and the role of the European dimension in shaping them.
This introductory chapter analyses the case of Scottish devolution. It identifies the three main reasons why Scotland serves as an ideal test case for the general hypothesis that European integration raises demand for self-government at the sub-state level. It then presents a brief overview of the main contributions to this book and reviews the literature on Europeanisation, particularly on the Europeanisation of the demands for regional self-government. It gives a brief historical overview of the constitutional position of Scotland within the United Kingdom and of its demand for self-government, including both devolution and independence. This chapter also includes several reviews of relevant literature on the 1979 and 1997 referendums and studies the role of the European dimension in such literature.
Political parties are considered as the most relevant elite actors in the politics of Scottish self-government. This chapter analyses factors that are related to the Scottish National Party (SNP), the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, the three main actors of the Scottish party system and the protagonists in the politics of self-government. It shows that the pro-self-government parties had a hostile attitude towards the European Union, did not perceive the European dimension as significantly affecting their positions and largely failed to use it in their strategies. On the other hand, their Conservative opponents adopted a policy of supporting devolution in principle—but opposing the Scotland Act 1978 in practice—and centred their strategy on the risk that devolution would lead to secession and the contradictions within the Yes camp between Labour and the SNP.
This chapter is concerned with interest groups, which were the other key elite actors who played a crucial role in the politics of self-government. It shows that some of these groups had a historical presence within Scottish society and/or a large membership, which gave them a degree of representativeness in ‘interpreting’ public opinion, and in turn allowed them to make it superior to that of political parties. It analyses the key groups of the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and the business organisations. It studies their policy on self-government, the perception they had of the European Union (EU)—in general and in relation to their position on Scottish self-government in particular—and whether they used the European dimension in their strategies. This chapter concludes that each of the three interest groups had a different pattern of attitudes towards the EU and devolution.
This chapter takes a look at the close match between elite discourse and public opinion, which verifies the claim that the elites had the ability to shape deeply mass attitudes. It notes that one of the key elements emerging from the analysis of public opinion data is that support for self-government was still above 60 per cent at the time of the referendum, despite the fact that the latter's result—while taking into account the effects of the 40 per cent clause—was negative. This means that a large gap between support for devolution and the Yes vote existed in 1979, which can be explained by the workings of a complex causal mechanism called the ‘interaction effect’.
This chapter examines the failure to Europeanise the politics of self-government, which meant that the latter remained a two-level, instead of a three-level, fixture where the Yes vote was at a disadvantage. It identifies the three main aspects in the elite actors' failure to Europeanise self-government in the 1970s. This chapter also emphasises that the failure to Europeanise was also a failure to influence public opinion in order to support the elite project of devolution. A discussion of the three main conclusions that emerged from the analysis conducted so far of the politics of self-government in the 1970s is included.
This chapter analyses the evidence that proves the European dimension was crucial to party competition on self-government from 1988 to 1997. It determines that the political parties clearly identified a number of connections between the European Union and the issue of self-government for Scotland. This led to the adoption of a European dimension into their positions on self-government. It shows that the SNP served as the key actor in this dynamic, since it was the party that utilised the European Union to its fullest and effectively opened an additional dimension in the politics of self-government.
This chapter shows how the interest groups were played differently in the 1980s and beyond than in the 1970s, especially in relation to the European dimension. It reveals that the Church of Scotland had been isolated in the 1970s due to being both pro-devolution and pro-EU. It determines that the key change in interest groups during this period was on the STUC, which was one of the key actors in the effort to Europeanise Scottish devolution in the 1990s. This chapter also discusses other important changes that occurred between the 1970s and 1990s, which eventually helped increase the influence of the interest groups on the politics of self-government.
This chapter takes a look at the situation of public opinion during the 1970s. It shows that public opinion closely matched elite opinion, and takes note of the sharp turnaround in attitudes towards the EU, as seen in the case of Labour, the STUC and the SNP and the emergence of a split among the Conservatives. It then examines the satisfaction with government, perception of Scotland's welfare and identification with the UK to estimate Scots' attitudes towards the UK political system in its political, economic and symbolic dimensions. This chapter determines that the 1997 referendum was a more 'straightforward' affair than the 1979 one.
This chapter focuses on the successful Europeanisation that occurred during the 1990s. Its differentiates the European dimension during the 1970s and the 1990s, and looks at its impact on the politics of Scottish self-government in the 1990s. It shows that in a reversal of the 1979 situation, this process of Europeanisation served as a factor of unity and strength on the Yes side and had wide consequences for the result of the 1997 referendum. The evidence presented in this chapter suggests that the exploitation of the European dimension was the most important factor that explains the endorsement of devolution in 1997, relative to its rejection in 1979.