This book explains devolution today in terms of the evolution of past structures of government in the component parts of the United Kingdom. It highlights the importance of the English dimension and the role that England's territorial politics played in constitutional debates. Similarities and differences between how the components of the UK were governed are described. The book argues that the UK should be understood now, even more than pre-devolution, as a state of distinct unions, each with its own deeply rooted past and trajectory. Using previously unpublished primary material, as well as a wealth of secondary work, it offers a comprehensive account of the territorial constitution of the UK from the early twentieth century through to the operation of the new devolved system of government.
This book compares the politics, policies, and polity-building dynamics of devolution in Wales and decentralisation in the French region of Brittany. Empirically, it draws conclusions from in-depth fieldwork within the two regions and reports the findings of a comparative public-opinion survey. Theoretically, the book contributes towards our understanding of the comparative study of regions. Perhaps most impressive is how the case studies generally are based on, but also cast light back to, the nuanced theoretical framework on regional capacity established at the outset. The book uncovers the dynamics of devolution in Wales and decentralisation in Brittany through extensive face-to-face interviews: over two hundred interviews were carried out from 2001 to 2004, a formative stage in the development of the devolved institutions in Wales and also a period of expectation in Brittany.
This book is an ethnographic study of devolution and politics in Scotland, as well as of party-political activism more generally. It explores how Conservative Party activists who had opposed devolution and the movement for a Scottish Parliament during the 1990s attempted to mobilise politically following their annihilation at the 1997 General Election. The book draws on fieldwork conducted in Dumfries and Galloway – a former stronghold for the Scottish Tories – to describe how senior Conservatives worked from the assumption that they had endured their own ‘crisis’ in representation. The material consequences of this crisis included losses of financial and other resources, legitimacy and local knowledge for the Scottish Conservatives. The book ethnographically describes the processes, practices and relationships that Tory Party activists sought to enact during the 2003 Scottish and local government elections. Its central argument is that, having asserted that the difficulties they faced constituted problems of knowledge, Conservative activists cast to the geographical and institutional margins of Scotland became ‘banal’ activists. Believing themselves to be lacking in the data and information necessary for successful mobilisation during Parliamentary elections, local Tory Party strategists attempted to address their knowledge ‘crisis’ by burying themselves in paperwork and petty bureaucracy. Such practices have often escaped scholarly attention because they appear everyday and mundane, and are therefore less noticeable. Bringing them into view analytically has important implications for socio-cultural anthropologists, sociologists and other scholars interested in ‘new’ ethnographic objects, including activism, bureaucracy, democracy, elections and modern knowledge practices.
Devolution is a process: Wales
Devolution is a process, not an event. (Ron Davies)
Even more than Scotland, the nature of the union between Wales and the
rest of Britain has undergone significant change over a relatively short
period of time. A historical overview is essential to understand why Welsh
devolution today differs from that which exists in Scotland. What
becomes clear is that while Welsh devolution is a pale version of that in
Scotland, Welsh institutional development has been more dramatic
Devolution and polity building in Wales
Much of the devolution debate in Wales has centred upon the uniqueness of
Welsh constitutional arrangements and political traditions. Several features
set the Wales case apart from those in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the
English Regions. Wales had a history of limited administrative devolution
from 1964 to 1999. While Scotland retained its separate legal and educational systems, Wales was routinely considered, for legislative and political
purposes, either as part of England or as the junior partner in an
➤ Review of the background to devolution
➤ Past attempts to introduce devolution
➤ Analysis of the reasons why devolution was introduced after 1997
➤ How devolution was implemented in various parts of the UK
➤ Analysis of different political attitudes towards devolution
➤ Speculation as to how successful the implementation of devolution has been
Movements which were dedicated to the introduction of greater selfgovernment for Britain’s national regions can be traced back as far as the
and/or executive powers in three of the four nations within the United Kingdom. It has also provided for some decentralisation of government within England. Changes have ranged from giving some powers to a mayor and assembly in London to powers conferred on cities or city regions, but with other parts of England left without a regional ‘power house’.
The devolution or disbursement of powers from the centre to national and regional levels has been a notable feature of the period since the end of the twentieth century. There are various models that have been
’ demands. Consequently, a Bill was drafted and passed, not without difficulty. The referendum for a Welsh assembly, however, was defeated by a four-to-one majority and the Scottish one, subject to an amendment won by opponents during the passing of the Bill that the majority had to exceed 40% of the electorate, was passed by too small a margin. Devolution then languished during the decade when Margaret Thatcher was Prime Minister. Her brand of ultra-Conservatism, combined with her haughty Home Counties manner, however, managed to restoke the fires of nationalism and, by
Devolution was one of the defining issues in British politics during the late 1970s. It was the subject which eventually brought about the parliamentary defeat of the Labour government and precipitated a general election. Both Labour and the Conservatives had long grappled with the question of how desirable and how achievable a shift of administrative and legislative powers away from Westminster may have been. Although their chosen methods for achieving such a change, and their absolute belief in them, differed, the belief that
The settled will of the Scottish people
There shall be a Scottish parliament.
(Opening clause of the Scotland Act, 1998)
At Labour’s Scottish conference in March 1994, Labour leader John Smith
declared that a Scottish Parliament was the ‘settled will of the Scottish
people’ and would be the ‘cornerstone of our plans for democratic
renewal’ in Britain (Scotsman, 12 March 1994). Smith died two months
later. His declaration that a parliament was Scotland’s ‘settled will’
became a rallying cry for home