Between two unions: Europeanisation and Scottish devolution

Between two unions: Europeanisation and Scottish devolution

Paolo Dardanelli
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Between two unions: Europeanisation and Scottish devolution
    Book Description:

    This book is the first study of Scottish devolution to adopt an explicitly comparative approach and the first to analyse the impact of the European dimension. It is based on a comparison between the 1970s and the 1990s, with focus on the March 1979 and September 1997 referendums. For each period, it investigates how political parties and interest groups perceived the UK and the EU, how they defined their interests towards them, how perceptions and interests shaped their strategies and what influence elite strategies had on mass preferences and ultimately on the referendum results. Based on rigorous analysis of an extensive body of quantitative and qualitative sources, it identifies three key factors in the changing politics of Scottish devolution: the interaction between attitudes to devolution and attitudes to independence; the exploitation of the European context to shape perceptions of independence and a gap between support for self-government; and the referendum vote. On these findings, it builds a ground-breaking argument that challenges the widespread thesis that support for devolution was a consequence of the 'democratic deficit' created by eighteen years of Conservative rule. It shows that the key factors accounting for the different results of the two referendums were a change in attitudes to independence and the use of the European dimension in determining them, rather than the ‘democratic deficit’. The book thus presents an entirely original explanation of Scottish devolution and sheds light on one of the most contested questions in contemporary politics: whether European integration leads to fragmentation of its constituent states.

    eISBN: 978-1-84779-213-6
    Subjects: Business

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-v)
  3. List of Figures and tables
    (pp. vi-vi)
  4. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-24)

    European integration and devolution of power to the regional level are two of the most important phenomena which have affected the European states over the last thirty years. Their taking place more or less simultaneously has naturally raised the question of whether there is a causal connection between them, i.e. whether the process of supra-state integration generates or increases demands for regional self-government which lead to processes of regionalisation.

    The question has been present in the literature for a long time, with the first works addressing it published in the mid-1970s¹ but no rigorous theoretical and empirical analysis of the...

  6. Part I THE 1970s

    • 2 Political parties
      (pp. 26-43)

      Political parties were the most important elite actors in the politics of Scottish self-government. Where parties stood on the spectrum of constitutional options, what perceptions they had of the European dimension and how they played their strategies are crucial factors in assessing their impact on the distribution of preferences at public opinion level. In this chapter I analyse such factors in relation 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.¹ What is now the Liberal Democratic party has...

    • 3 Interest groups
      (pp. 44-61)

      Interest groups were the other key elite actors who played a crucial role in the politics of self-government. Some of them had a historical presence within Scottish society and/or a large membership which lent them a degree of representativeness in ‘interpreting’ public opinion and in turn to shape it even superior to that of political parties. The key groups analysed here are the Church of Scotland, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) and the business organisations. Following the pattern of chapter 2, for each of these actors I analyse their policy on self-government, the perception they had of the European...

    • 4 Public opinion
      (pp. 62-74)

      The pattern of perceptions and positions seen in the preceding chapters in relation to elite actors was largely replicated at mass public level. Voters had a clear idea of where parties stood on the self-government question and party identification was a very strong predictor of constitutional preferences and of the referendum vote. Labour and Nationalist identifiers were hostile to the EU while Liberal and Conservative identifiers were supportive. This close matching between elite discourse and public opinion substantiates the claim that the elites had the ability to profoundly shape mass attitudes, in line with the theoretical assumptions outlined in chapter...

    • 5 Failed Europeanisation in the 1970s
      (pp. 75-82)

      As seen in this first part of the book, the European dimension had a minimal impact on the politics of self-government in the 1970s. Most elite actors – notably those pro-devolution – saw few connections between the two issues and did not utilise the European dimension in their campaigns. By so doing they failed to allay fears among the mass public about the link between devolution and independence and the very negative view of the latter. The failure to Europeanise the politics of self-government meant that the latter remained a two-level, as opposed to a three-level, game in which the Yes side...

  7. Part II THE 1990s

    • 6 Political parties
      (pp. 84-100)

      Despite significant change in the Scottish party system between the 1970s and the 1990s, in particular the accelerated decline of the Conservatives and the stabilisation at a fairly high level of the SNP, party positions on selfgovernment remained remarkably stable. Labour championed devolution, the SNP pursued independence but supported devolution as second best and the Conservatives favoured the status quo, albeit this time also in principle as well as in practice. The strategic playing of the self-government game, on the other hand, notably in relation to the European dimension, was in stark contrast to the previous period. By the 1990s,...

    • 7 Interest groups
      (pp. 101-119)

      Among interest groups as well, the politics of self-government was played differently than in the 1970s, especially in relation to the European dimension. While the Church of Scotland had been isolated in the 1970s in being both pro-devolution and pro-EU and in seeing the latter strengthening the case for the former, it was by then in good company. The key change, of course, concerned the STUC which was in the 1990s one of they key actors in the effort to Europeanise Scottish devolution. Like Labour and the SNP, the STUC’s perception of the EU changed radically from deep hostility to...

    • 8 Public opinion
      (pp. 120-130)

      Like in the 1970s, in this latter period too, public opinion closely matched elite opinion though more as regards perceptions of the European Union than in relation to self-government. The sharp turnaround in attitudes towards the EU seen in the case of Labour, the STUC and the SNP and the emergence of a split among the Conservatives was almost exactly mirrored at the mass public level as shown by segmentation by party identification. In contrast, the distribution of constitutional preferences was less closely linked to party identification, in particular as regards independence whose popularity reached well beyond the group of...

    • 9 Successful Europeanisation in the 1990s
      (pp. 131-138)

      In sharp contrast to the 1970s, the European dimension had a very significant impact on the politics of Scottish self-government in the 1990s. All elite actors, including those opposing devolution, identified important links between the two issues and tried to exploit the European dimension to their advantage, thus turning devolution into a ‘three-level game’. In a reversal of the 1979 situation, this process of Europeanisation was a factor of unity and strength on the Yes side and had far-reaching consequences for the outcome of the 1997 referendum. The evidence suggests that the exploitation of the European dimension was the single...


    • 10 Explaining Europeanisation and devolution
      (pp. 140-155)

      What explains the radically different extents to which Scottish devolution was Europeanised in the 1970s and in the 1990s? Was the deepening of European integration the key factor? As discussed in the pages below, no single factor can fully account for the variation, several changes among actors and institutions at each of the three levels – European, British, Scottish – played a role. Two connected factors, though, stand out as having had the greatest impact. First, the ideological change among left-of-centre elite actors that was instrumental in changing their perception of the European Union and opening the way to their exploitation of...

    • 11 Epilogue: a new Scotland in a changing Europe
      (pp. 156-164)

      This last chapter turns its attention away from the past and into the future. It offers some reflections on Scotland’s place in the European Union in the post-devolution period and the likely influence that the European dimension will continue to have on the issue of Scottish independence. It argues that the European dimension will continue to be very important for Scotland but that some of the exaggerated expectations about devolution’s ability to provide a quantum leap in Scotland’s relations with the EU have been and are likely to continue being disappointed. A more general disillusion with devolution and the devolved...

  9. Bibliography
    (pp. 165-176)
  10. Index
    (pp. 177-180)