Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Nationalism and Social PolicyThe Politics of Territorial Solidarity$

Daniel Béland and André Lecours

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199546848

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2008

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199546848.001.0001

Show Summary Details
Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.oxfordscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use (for details see http://www.oxfordscholarship.com/page/privacy-policy). Subscriber: null; date: 15 August 2018

The United Kingdom: Nationalism, Devolution, and Social Policy

The United Kingdom: Nationalism, Devolution, and Social Policy

(p.94) 3 The United Kingdom: Nationalism, Devolution, and Social Policy
Nationalism and Social Policy

Daniel Béland (Contributor Webpage)

André Lecours (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

Chapter 3 looks at Scotland in the United Kingdom to explore the relationship between nationalism and social policy. It explains how the relationship between British nation-building and social policy emerged during the post-war era and outlines the particular importance of this process in Scotland, which depended more upon social benefits than did the South of England. It then explores the mobilization process favouring devolution for Scotland in the context of social policy retrenchment, and shows how these two issues meshed during Thatcherism. Finally, it analyses the impact of devolution on social policy development in Scotland and in the United Kingdom at large. Although it is too early to draw definite conclusions about the nature and extent of this impact, it is clear that the institutional and political transformations involved in devolution have affected policy processes and outcomes.

Keywords:   devolution, independence, Labour Party, National Health Service, Scotland, Scottish National Party, social policy, Thatcherism, United Kingdom, welfare state

During the post‐war era, the modern welfare state and the idea of social citizenship associated with it became a central aspect of the British national identity.1 In this context, the creation of new social programmes granting universal benefits to Britons during the post‐war era established a relationship between social policy and British identity. From the perspective of identity formation, the National Health Service (NHS) became the most popular social policy in the United Kingdom. Although the Scottish Office administrated the NHS in Scotland, universal health coverage developed during the post‐war era into a source of national unity in Britain, as it did in Canada. Contrary to the situation prevailing in Canada, however, the central parliament enacted most of the post‐war social programmes, an outcome stemming from the British doctrine of absolute parliamentary sovereignty. Even if administrative decentralization characterized programmes like the NHS, social legislation adopted in Westminster facilitated the symbolic integration of the various populations of the British ‘union‐state’.2 Scotland, which had higher per capita social expenditures on average than England, greatly benefited (p.95) from these popular programmes, especially its large working class. Starting in 1979, Thatcherism and the related politics of social policy retrenchment weakened the foundation of this implicit ‘social contract’ and simultaneously presented a strong challenge to Scotland's societal and administrative autonomy. The Conservative Party was unable to secure a majority of seats in Scotland during the 1980s and 1990s, and Thatcherite social policy cutbacks and privatizations became a symbol of the region's political heteronomy. It is during the Thatcher era that the connection between Scottish national identity and social policy became truly explicit. Almost four decades later than was the case in Canada, claims of sub‐state nationalism meshed with the politics of social policy. Just as social policy issues have long been central to Québécois nationalism's defence of provincial autonomy, the struggle for social justice and redistribution became a major aspect of Scotland's quest for devolution during the 1980s and 1990s. In both Quebec and Scotland, the idea of a society whose progressive and egalitarian values clash with the values of the rest of the country permeates the political discourse and serves as an argument for independence or, at least, greater political autonomy. In the case of Scotland, however, social policy probably became an even greater tool of identity construction and political persuasion than in Quebec, partially because of the absence of ‘hard’ distinctive cultural markers such as language. Finally, the establishment of a Scottish Parliament in 1999 has meant a measure of divergence on social policy that stands somewhere between the extensive differentiation observed with respect to Quebec in Canadian federalism and the reproduction of the countrywide social insurance system in Belgium's otherwise fragmented political system.3

Nationalism is not an easy process to ascertain in the Scottish context because it is a more specific manifestation of the broader phenomenon of Scottish national identity, or Scottish nationhood. Nationalism involves a dimension of territorial mobilization for political, institutional, and∕or constitutional change. From this perspective, David McCrone could argue that, in the context of the 1980s and 1990s movement for devolution, which was so broadly based amongst Scotland's political class, all Scottish politicians were nationalist.4 Yet, before that, territorial mobilization in (p.96) Scotland was absent, or at least fairly weak, for most of the Union period.5 However, even when there was no active territorial mobilization for home rule in Scotland, the reality of Scottish nationhood still affected, and was affected by, British social policy. This does not mean that Scotland has historically been more socially united than England. Indeed, Scotland has always featured major class and ideological divisions, but nationhood, supported and bolstered by administrative decentralization, represented a broad unifying force.

This chapter looks at Scotland in the United Kingdom to explore our claims about the relationship between nationalism and social policy. It explains how the relationship between British nation‐building and social policy emerged during the post‐war era and outlines the particular importance of this process in Scotland, which depended more upon social benefits than did the South of England.5 We then explore the mobilization process favouring devolution for Scotland in the context of social policy retrenchment, and show how these two issues meshed during Thatcherism. From this perspective, we also discuss the argument put forth, primarily by the Scottish National Party (SNP), in favour of Scottish independence. Finally, we analyse the impact of devolution on social policy development in Scotland and in the United Kingdom at large. Although it is too early to draw definite conclusions about the nature and extent of this impact, it is clear that the institutional and political transformations involved in devolution have affected both policy processes and outcomes. Overall, Scottish distinctiveness in social policy, both pre‐ and post devolution, is hardly radical, but all the differences point in a similar direction and their symbolic and political weight has cumulated over time.

This chapter is divided into six sections. It opens with a discussion of Scotland's historical position within the British state that serves to explain the historical crystallization of the Scottish national identity. The second section shows how the Beveridge report of 1942 set the stage for the post‐war Labour reforms. Here, we underline the nation‐building power of the modern welfare state and its impact on Scotland despite the existence of (p.97) administrative decentralization. The third segment discusses the development of Scottish nationalism and of the SNP, while the fourth analyses the nature of Thatcherism in the social policy realm and how it shaped the processes of Scottish identity‐building and nationalist mobilization. These processes are discussed by focusing specifically on the drive towards home rule and the development of new arguments for independence. As was the case in Quebec and Flanders, social policy became a major focus of nationalist mobilization in Scotland during the 1980s and 1990s. This section shows that, similar to the situation in Quebec but different from that of Flanders, nationalism in Scotland was framed as a social democratic, progressive force that opposed neo‐liberalism and therefore sought the opportunity to create distinctive social policies. The fifth section analyses the nationalism—social policy nexus in the context of the new Scottish party system, while the final section offers an analysis of the impact of devolution on social policy development in Scotland and, to a lesser extent, in the United Kingdom at large. The main argument formulated here is that, despite limited fiscal and institutional autonomy, Scotland has developed several distinct social policies since 1999. This is especially apparent in the field of health care reform, which carries so much symbolic and political weight in the United Kingdom. Finally, the last section stresses the emerging agenda‐setting role of Scotland within the broader context of social policy development in the United Kingdom.

Scotland and the British State

The construction of the British state is the story of the political union of various territories and populations with England: Wales in 1536; Scotland in 1707; and Ireland in 1801. The political union of England and Scotland corresponded to the creation of Great Britain. Formally, the Act (or Treaty) of Union involved the abolishment of the English and Scottish parliaments, which were replaced by the British Parliament. For England, the union concerned political expansion and strategic considerations. For Scottish parliamentarians who decided in favour of the union, economic imperatives were the focus, as crop failures, famine, and a disastrous colonial initiative (the Darien venture) left the country struggling in the 1690s.7 These sets of practical considerations behind the union have (p.98) led some Scottish writers to portray it as a ‘marriage of convenience’.8 Others have argued that the union with England was actually illegitimate because the decision to accept it was made in Scotland, against the will of the people,9 by a small group who might have been promised personal financial rewards. Perhaps more significantly for contemporary politics, a significant Scottish perspective on the union features the notion of a treaty (rather than an act) between self‐standing nations.

The notion that Scottish nationhood pre‐dated the union with England represents the dominant strand of Scottish historiography. From this perspective, the 1320 Declaration of Arbroath, presumably written by Bernard de Linton, Abbott of Arbroath, is interpreted as evidence that Scottish nobles saw in Scotland the type of political entity (a ‘community of realm’) that was called a nation in the modern period.10 The declaration, signed by a group of earls and barons, put forth a Scottish position on the conflicts with England and asked Pope John XXII to intervene. It can also be seen as making an early claim to popular sovereignty as it stated that the King could be removed if he betrayed the people. The subject of the declaration, the rivalry and repeated clashes with England, is another dynamic said to have contributed to the development of early Scottish nationhood. At a minimum, the conflictual relationship served to bolster a distinct national identity a posteriori, as each of the key Scottish historical icons struggled with the English Crown in one way or another: William Wallace, who frustrated English claims to control Scotland; Robert the Bruce, who defeated the armies of Edward II at Bannockburn in 1314; and Mary Stuart, Queen of Scots, imprisoned and beheaded by Queen Elizabeth. Finally, Scottish scholars often emphasize the Church of Scotland (or Kirk) as a potent force for unity in the pre‐union period.11 The Kirk was the product of a reformation process that involved a break with Rome and the formulation of a Calvinist doctrine along Presbyterian lines. The Scottish Parliament formally recognized this transition in 1560, and the 1688 Glorious Revolution meant the protection of ‘Calvinism in one country’.12

Other writers have challenged the idea of a pre‐1707 Scottish nationhood by emphasizing the conflicts and divisions within Scotland. Neil Davidson, for example, suggests that two distinct societies existed in (p.99) Scotland before the eighteenth century, the Highlands and the Lowlands,13 a separation that was the result of a series of reinforcing (as opposed to cross‐cutting) cleavages. On the one hand, the Highlands represented the ‘wild’ part of Scotland, one with a clan‐based societal structure and where Scottish laws were applied unevenly, at best. Catholicism remained strong, as the reformation failed to make significant inroads in this territory. Finally, in the Highlands, Gaelic was the dominant language. On the other hand, inhabitants of the Lowlands considered themselves more civilized and lawful. By and large, they were Calvinists who communicated in English. Davidson also cast doubts on the elements often argued to have been sources of cohesion for Scotland before the union: Scottish law (and the Scottish Parliament) did not have universal reach in so far as it was primarily concerned with feudal relationships, and the absolutist monarchy's following was weak.14

Setting aside the existence or absence of a Scottish nation before the eighteenth century for a moment, the union with England allowed Scotland to preserve, even foster, a sense of distinctiveness. This is a somewhat counter‐intuitive outcome, because the Scottish Parliament was abolished in 1707, and British legal theorists such as A. V. Dicey later promoted the doctrine of parliamentary sovereignty, which meant that the British Parliament (where Scottish representatives were only a minority) reigned supreme. Great Britain, therefore, did not divide sovereignty as modern federal systems do. However, it would be misguided to assume that because Great Britain was not created as a federation, it assumed the prototypical, unitary centralist model of cultural and societal assimilation. The British state never attempted to engineer the type of aggressive ‘integration’ sought and achieved by the French State. As such, the United Kingdom (as it was called after the inclusion of Ireland) is better conceived of as a union‐state, that is, a state whose modes of territorial governance somewhat resembles the empire in so far as component territories and populations are allowed to maintain their distinct laws, customs, and culture. The British state incorporated component units over time and tolerated the notion that they could retain or develop, as well as express, nationhood. Moreover, it structured differently its relationship with these various units. Wales was always closely integrated with England, while Ireland took a semi‐colonial position. In the case of Scotland, considerable societal autonomy afforded after the union explains the continued existence of a Scottish national identity (p.100) through the eighteenth, nineteenth, and twentieth centuries, and the absence until the latter half of the twentieth century of a strong Scottish nationalist movement seeking independence.

Scotland's post‐union autonomy rested upon three pillars: Scots law, the Kirk (the Church of Scotland), and the education system. Scots (or Scottish) law, which the union allowed Scotland to preserve, was a legal system that included elements of civil law and therefore differed from English Common Law. Courts have sometimes suggested that Scotland's distinct legal system involved a particular constitutional law tradition that did not feature the principle of absolute parliamentary sovereignty found in England.15 In the 1953 McCormick v Lord Advocate case, a Scottish court suggested that within the distinct Scottish constitutional law, the Union was ‘superior law and not changeable by the Parliament of the United Kingdom’.16 On a more day‐to‐day basis, respect of Scots law by the British State meant that the Westminster Parliament passed parallel legislation for Scotland.17

Scotland's religious organization had more tangible effects on its national identity. The Kirk was emblematic of the country, especially because negotiations over the Union involved securing its independence. It provided rules of social and moral conduct for all Scots and served as a link between the cities and the countryside. Its general assembly acted as a deliberative forum for the affairs of the day and a force against undue interference from London.18 Until the mid nineteenth century, the Kirk also assumed considerable responsibility for education and welfare.19

The creation of national education systems in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century is widely recognized as an instrumental factor in the process of European nation‐building.20 In the United Kingdom, the Union's framework allowed for the establishment in 1872–3 of a Scottish elementary school system, run by the Scotch Education Department (SED), to replace the previous Church‐centred system of parish schools. As elsewhere in Europe, the education system in Scotland served as an institutional supporter and promoter of national identity, especially through a (p.101) history curriculum that offered a clear Scottish (as opposed to British) perspective.21 The school system was instrumental in popularizing national symbols like medieval hero William Wallace, offering narratives on the Union and other events considered central to the evolution of Scotland and propagating particular conceptions and images of Scots.

From this perspective, a particularly powerful reference is the so‐called Scottish myth, which refers to a belief that Scottish society is fundamentally egalitarian (or at least, more so than England).22 Somewhat paradoxically, the Scottish myth of egalitarianism is rooted in a hierarchical, Old Regime social structure where the idea of organic community was emphasized. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, it became associated with a liberal (rather than a socialist) vision, in so far as it rested on the notion that Scotland had always offered an equality of opportunity, especially when it came to access to education for diligent young lads of working‐ and middle‐class backgrounds as well as from rural areas. The self‐perception of Scots as egalitarian reached well into the late twentieth century. It represents an early element of the connection between Scottish nationalism and social policy that emerged during the Thatcher years and was expressed during the campaign for home rule in the 1980s and 1990s. It was also the Thatcherite challenge to Scotland's historical autonomy that effectively linked Scottish nationalism with specific positions on social policy.

Scotland's autonomy after the Union went beyond the persistence of a distinct legal, religious, and educational system.23 As was previously indicated, the United Kingdom in the nineteenth century was very different from France, where the guiding principle was to run everything from the political centre. In the context of the United Kingdom, Scotland enjoyed administrative autonomy. ‘The history of the extension of administrative home rule to Scotland is relatively clear, although the motives for each major step varied, with a mix of efficiency, the desire to starve of (sic) nationalist pressure and fairly basic vote‐winning calculations being present in varying amounts.’24 In Scotland, there existed a structure of supervisory boards, ‘local and national committees of lawyers, other professionals, and aristocrats who were put in charge of administrating all the subsequent social legislation that parliament produced in the nineteenth (p.102) century’.25 These governing bodies, among other things, managed prisons; registered births, marriages, and deaths; administered agriculture; and developed the Highlands.26 From 1845 on, a Board of Supervision oversaw the Poor Law in Scotland.27 That year's Poor Law reform in Scotland took a different shape than the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act that applied to England and Wales (later extended to Ireland). In Scotland, the able‐bodied could not receive poor relief but benefits could be paid to people living outside the poorhouse. Furthermore, the 1845 reform kept ‘relief organized at the parish level’.28 Even more than in England, poor relief in nineteenth‐century Scotland was embedded in the liberal tradition.

Scotland… had been the birthplace of the formulation of the principles of laissez‐faire and a minimal state presence. These concepts had been enthusiastically sustained through the nineteenth century, notably in Scotland's fervent espousal of economic liberalism and free trade, and in a harsher application of social policy as embodied in the Poor Law. In Scotland the conditions for receipt of poor relief were less generous than in England, most notably in the denial of benefit to able‐bodied unemployed men.29

Far from the egalitarian image of today's Scotland, nineteenth‐century poor relief highlights the weight of the liberal tradition. Yet the administration of the Poor Law at that time exemplified the peculiar type of autonomy enjoyed by Scotland. According to Lindsay Paterson: ‘The board was left to itself by the United Kingdom state: it was very rarely mentioned in parliament. Indeed, there is no evidence that even the Cabinet took interest in the Scottish Poor Law at any time between 1845 and 1921.’30 In 1867, the Public Health Act empowered the board to promote public health.31 In 1885, the Scottish Office was set up to formalize the administration of various policies in Scotland. This experiment in administrative decentralization featured a Secretary for Scotland (renamed Secretary of State in 1926) that gained access to Cabinet after the First World War.32 In 1937, Scotland's various boards were placed under the authority of the Scottish Office.33 In addition to serving these administrative functions, the Scottish Office adapted Westminster legislation to the Scottish context and, through the Secretary of State for Scotland, lobbied the British government on Scotland's behalf. This composition (p.103) meant that ‘separate administrative arrangements would not only persist but would apply to new or expanding areas of public policy’.34 From a macro‐historical perspective, this administrative autonomy enjoyed by Scotland through the nineteenth and twentieth centuries is instrumental for understanding the angry reaction of much of Scottish society towards the Thatcher government, whose own policies were viewed as infringing upon Scotland's autonomous institutions. In other words, there is a history in Scotland of administrative autonomy that would affect the interconnection of Scottish nationalism with social policy in the late twentieth century.

Despite the absence of a Scottish parliament, Scotland's autonomy within the United Kingdom greatly contributed to the consolidation of a sense of nationhood. The ‘Holy Trinity’ of the Kirk, the law, and the education system became symbols around which the nation was built.35 The Highland∕Lowland cleavage lost much salience when, starting in 1745, the British state sought to suppress its culture and clan organization (with the approval of Lowlanders) in retaliation for its support of the deposed Stuart dynasty.36 The use of Gaelic became confined to isolated areas in the Highlands and the islands. Yet, ironically, both Highland culture and the Gaelic language were eventually mobilized as symbols of Scotland as a whole. Finally, Catholics were fully integrated into the conceptualization of the nation, though some religious tensions remain.37

This development of Scottish nationhood occurred at the same time as ‘Britishness’ was also becoming a reality in Scotland. This seems at first paradoxical, but it is completely congruent with the structuring and the philosophy of the British union‐state. British identity is by design fuzzy, in so far as the United Kingdom was conceptualized as a community of nations. The British state was somehow akin to the societies of the Old Regime for its tolerance of diversity of territorial status and identity.38 It did not, like the French state, find its legitimacy in popular nationalism, but rather in a loyalty to constitutional practices.39

Yet various dimensions of the British state fostered in Scotland great attachment to the Union and to ‘Britishness’. First, Scotland may have enjoyed administrative autonomy in the Union, but legislative authority, (p.104) following the principle of parliamentary sovereignty, remained in Westminster. Stated another way, the institutions insuring Scotland's administrative autonomy were ultimately all the product of the British state. This meant, for example, that policies implemented in Scotland would never conflict with those originally designed in Whitehall.40 From this perspective, despite the administrative autonomy of the Scottish Office, the claim of a pre‐devolution Scottish political system seems an exaggeration.41

Second, political parties operating in Scotland were all unionist. The Liberal Party, dominant in Scotland during the nineteenth century, was a strong defender of the existing status of Scotland within the Union, despite intermittent musings over Scottish home rule and the acceptance, in the late 1880s, of home rule for Ireland.42 The Conservative Party, whose strength in Scotland was felt particularly between the First World War and the 1950s, portrayed itself during the nineteenth and first half of the twentieth century ‘as the party of the Empire, the party of the union, and as the patriotic party’, although typically in respect of the multinational nature of the country.43 The Labour Party focused on working class solidarity, and its social democratic objectives fell squarely within a British framework, at least after the First World War when it began gaining substantial popularity in Scotland.44

Finally, the British Empire represented for many Scots a source of great pride as well as political and economic opportunities. From this perspective, ‘Britishness’ was rendered attractive by the prestige of the Empire, and loyalty to the state was fostered by the opportunity to rule new lands and access new markets, factors that were particularly crucial for the Scottish bourgeoisie.45 Moreover, the colonial ventures of the United Kingdom involved further confrontation with its historical nemesis, France. The wars with France, along with the religious clash they often involved, served to build up the British identity.46

(p.105) As a result of the integrative effects of British political institutions, parties, and imperialism, there was no equivalent in Scotland to the late nineteenth‐ and early twentieth‐century Basque, Catalan, and Flemish nationalism. The autonomist, and sometimes separatist, movements in Spain and Belgium were matched in the United Kingdom by similar claims from Ireland. Scotland did experience episodic claims for home rule, but overall it was much more wedded to the British state, a connection bolstered in the mid twentieth century by the expansion of the modern welfare state.

The Construction of the British Welfare State and National Identity After 1945

Similar to the Canadian model, the development of the welfare state in Britain became a focal point for national integration. Yet, in contrast to the situation prevalent in Canada's federal system, the concentration of sovereignty in Westminster facilitated the advent of a more politically centralized welfare state in the United Kingdom. The construction of that welfare state began in the first decade of the twentieth century, under the auspices of Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George. Created as part of the 1911 National Insurance Act, contributory social insurance schemes covered only parts of the population against sickness and unemployment.47 Enacted three years earlier, modest, non‐contributory pensions supported the elderly poor. During the interwar period, several reforms favoured the incremental development of British social policy. For example, the 1925 Widows, Orphans and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act established an old‐age insurance system that failed to cover all British workers, as those enrolled in more generous occupational schemes did not have to participate in the public system. Other measures enacted in the interwar period expanded the scope of public housing and unemployment benefits but fell short of granting universal social protection to all British citizens. Overall, pre‐1945 British social policy remained fragmented, with employers and voluntary societies playing a significant welfare role.48

(p.106) Only during the Second World War did the idea of universal coverage embedded in social citizenship emerge as the paradigmatic foundation of modern British social policy. Published in 1942, Sir William Beveridge's first wartime report, ‘Social Insurance and Allied Services’, is widely perceived as the blueprint for the modern British welfare state. In his influential report, Lord Beveridge made a strong case for the Keynesian promotion of full employment and the reconstruction of the fragmented, pre‐war social policy system into a universalist welfare state protecting all citizens against the five major social problems of the industrial era: idleness, ignorance, disease, squalor, and want. Although the report was described as a ‘morale boosting exercise for winning the war’, the truth is that most politicians and civil servants at the time believed that universal coverage and social citizenship constituted ‘an inconvenient luxury that could not be seriously considered until after the return to peace’.49 Immediately following the war in Europe, the Labour Party's decisive victory in the general election of July 1945 (393 Labour seats out of a possible 640) facilitated the enactment of a wave of comprehensive economic and social reforms.50 In the economic realm, public ownership expanded dramatically through the nationalization of gas, electricity, railways, civil aviation, road transport, steel, coal mines, and the Bank of England. In the domain of social policy, the Labour government of Clement Attlee implemented three major pieces of legislation that became the backbone of the modern British welfare state: the 1946 National Insurance Act, the 1946 National Health Service Act, and the 1948 National Assistance Act, all of which came into effect on 7 June 1948. Although these legislations did not follow all of Beveridge's original recommendations, the most crucial structural changes were enacted. ‘The old complex varieties of schemes and approved societies went and were replaced by a single National Insurance scheme with local offices run by a central ministry.’51 Such legislations created new social rights grounded in the idea of social citizenship. Starting in 1948, for example, the state financed the newly created National Health Service (NHS) mainly through general taxation, and all British citizens gained free, universal access to medical and hospital care. Yet, following the logic of the union‐state, a separate Westminster legislation created the NHS Scotland, which fell under the administrative control of the Scottish Office. In part because (p.107) the central state created and financed the NHS Scotland, however, the advent of universal health coverage in Scotland favoured the extension of British social citizenship. This is why, more than fifty years after the creation of the NHS, Gordon Brown could state that ‘when people talk of the National Health Service, whether in Scotland, Wales or England people think of the British National Health Service: here national is unquestionably British’.52 Furthermore, the massive development of public housing as well as the creation of universal cash benefits like the flat old‐age pension reinforced the sense of national citizenship rooted in common social rights.53 Although the United Kingdom remained a liberal welfare regime with relatively modest cash benefits, a prominent role for private pensions, and an enduring reliance on means‐tested provisions for the poor, the Attlee reforms helped to create a sense of British social citizenship existing beyond regional and class divisions. This is especially true of the emphasis on flat benefits and universal, standardized coverage that contrasts with the institutional fragmentation of Bismarckian social insurance systems like Belgium's. A politically centralized model, the British welfare state represented an exceptional tool of integration and nation‐building at the state level despite the existence of administrative decentralization.

One striking aspect of the three above‐mentioned legislations is the systematic use of the term national in their title. This word choice is not accidental: the post‐war welfare state was a powerful nation‐building tool in the United Kingdom, albeit likely not by design.54 First, to a certain extent, this welfare state replaced the empire as a perceived source of economic progress and as a powerful symbol of British identity. Regardless of significant administrative decentralization and territorial differences in policy areas like health care, the welfare state thus performed a unifying task across the United Kingdom. The fact that the British Empire faced strong decline after 1945 reinforced the political and symbolic transfer from the empire to the newly created universalist welfare state. From a Scottish perspective, the welfare state created powerful British institutions that impacted the everyday life of Scots.55 This process reinforced existing (p.108) economic and political ties between the British state and the inhabitants of Scotland. This process is similar to the one that occurred in Quebec and Canada after 1940. Second, the focus on national, UK‐wide social programmes and institutions after 1945 reflects the Labour Party's attempt to reduce the level of class inequality in the United Kingdom. At the time, T.H. Marshall's Citizenship and Social Classes provided an analytical framework that made sense of that struggle against class deprivation and exclusion, taking the form of basic social rights granted to all citizens.56 A peaceful, moderate tool of class integration, the modern welfare state favoured the smooth incorporation of the Scottish working class to the British state.57 This is particularly true because Scotland benefited more from the post‐war welfare state than did southern England, if not all of England.

The consistently higher unemployment rates obtaining in Scotland since World War II, along with the lower Scottish income per capita, has meant that the social security system has had proportionally more users in Scotland. These indicators of poorer living standards are mirrored by poorer health than in England and Wales, so Scots have used the National Health Service to a greater degree…. Identifiable public expenditure on Scotland has been at higher levels than in England or Wales. While the exact calculations are the subject of intense academic and political debate, it seems that the balance of opinion inclines to the view that Scotland has usually not been disadvantaged.58

Overall, Scots (particularly working‐class Scots) could identify with generous and popular British institutions embedded in shared social citizenship. Starting in the late 1950s, the Labour Party's domination in Scotland reinforced the notion and strength of a British social citizenship there.59

The integrative role of the post‐war welfare state does not mean that Scotland had no administrative say in the implementation of crucial social legislations enacted in Westminster. Considering the nature of the British union‐state and the traditionally limited involvement of the central state (Whitehall) in policy implementation, Scotland enjoyed administrative autonomy in a number of policy areas; this is what Daniel Wincott termed (p.109) ‘territorial variability’.60 Furthermore, although it conceded its existing responsibility over social assistance and old age pensions in the late 1940s, the Scottish Office successfully resisted Whitehall's centralizing attempts in key policy areas like housing.61 Though it was involved in the implementation of social programmes in the fields of health care, housing, and public education,62 the Scottish Office had no legislative autonomy and acted primarily as a lobby within British central institutions, defending and promoting Scotland's interests to the Cabinet and other departments.63 For example, as mentioned above, despite the enactment in 1947 of a separate National Health Service Act for Scotland, the NHS in Scotland remained a Westminster creation financed by the British state.64 As opposed to the provinces within the Canadian federation, Scotland enjoyed limited fiscal and institutional autonomy in the field of social policy, as elsewhere. Furthermore, there was no formal Scottish ‘veto point’ over legislation enacted in Westminster. In such an institutional context, the main raison d'être of the Scottish Office was to seek to influence Whitehall departments in defence of Scotland's interests.65

Scottish Nationalism, Home Rule, and the Scottish National Party

The structure of the British union‐state, combining tolerance for Scottish societal distinctiveness with the nation‐building dynamic of the parliamentary system and the modern welfare state, did not favour the complete suppression of Scottish nationhood; nor did it prevent the emergence in the nineteenth century of a Scottish nationalist movement articulating autonomist claims.

Pre‐devolution Scottish nationalism in its broadest form promoted some kind of institutionalized political autonomy within the United Kingdom achieved through the (re)creation of a Scottish Parliament, or home rule. Claims for Scottish home rule developed within the radical wing of the Liberal Party, largely in the context of a strong Nationalist (Republican) movement in Ireland during the 1880s. Bills on Scottish (p.110) home rule were presented to parliament by Liberal MPs in the 1890s and by Labour MPs in the 1920s.66 Home rule claims surfaced sporadically throughout the late nineteenth and early twentieth century: for example, a Scottish Home Rule Association was created in 1886. It lay dormant for several years only to be revived in 1918.67 Scottish home rule was an issue popular in radical and progressive circles within both the Liberal and, until the 1950s, the Scottish Labour parties.68 At this point, there was some connection between claims for home rule and left‐leaning politics. ‘There was the belief in some Liberal circles that Scotland was a more radical country than England, and that Scottish preferences for welfare legislation were being held back by English conservatism.’69 Within the Scottish Labour Movement, there was the feeling that Scotland was ‘potentially socialist’.70

The failure of the proponents of home rule to force institutional change was at the heart of the creation of an explicitly nationalist party, the National Party of Scotland (NPS) in 1928, as well as the establishment of the Scottish Party in 1932. In 1934, the pro‐independence and generally left‐leaning (though ideologically fragmented) NPS merged with the right‐wing and home rule‐seeking Scottish party to form the Scottish National Party (SNP).71 As a result of these conditions of formation, the SNP was, except for the notion of independence, without a clear ideology, programme, or policy agenda for several decades.72 Its influence also remained marginal through the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, years of international conflict and, subsequently, welfare expansion. The SNP elected its first MP in the 1945 by‐election and its second in the 1967 by‐election, but its real period of electoral success was the 1970s, when it attained 30 per cent of the vote and eleven MPs in 1974.73 It is also in the 1970s that the SNP began to move away from its reluctance to position itself to the left of the ideological spectrum.74

(p.111) The return of home rule onto the political agenda in the 1970s was the combined result of the SNP breakthrough and the increasing importance Scotland held for the Labour Party over the previous twenty‐five years or so. By 1945, the Labour Party had acquired a strong position in Scotland, whereas the Conservatives began to decline by the early 1960s.75 The 1959 election, particularly, featured ‘a British‐wide swing to the Conservatives while Scotland recorded a swing to Labour’.76 In this context, Scotland became more integral to Labour's strategic calculations. For example: ‘[L]abour's narrow electoral victory in 1964 could not have been achieved without its disproportionately large share of Scottish seats, a fact of which the Labour leadership was acutely aware.’77 It was therefore tempting for Labour to play the ‘Scottish card’, although this did not immediately take place because the party was wedded to the principle of British economic solidarity.78 Home rule was seriously considered when the SNP, whose nationalist discourse was buoyed by the discovery of oil in the North Sea, became a potential electoral threat.

By 1974, Labour was paying a great deal of attention to Scotland. In that year's October election, for example, it published, for the first time, a distinct Scottish Manifesto.79 The Labour Party also formally committed to devolution, though many of its MPs were unenthusiastic, if not downright hostile, towards the idea. The SNP supported the home rule proposal, though it did not abandon independence as its ultimate objective. The creation of a Scottish Assembly lacking the power to levy taxes was put to a referendum vote in 1979. At this point, there was no strong, positive connection between home rule and progressive social policy; during the 1980s, the reaction to Thatcherism would establish this link much more clearly. In fact, for some Labour MPs (e.g. Neil Kinnock), devolution was intolerable precisely because it threatened to undermine ‘the ability of the state to deliver benefits to the working class’.80 Still, arguments in favour of home rule emphasized its potential for reducing unemployment in Scotland. A Scottish Assembly, the argument went, would be in a better position than Westminster to restructure and improve Scotland's economy. Based in part on this reasoning, the Scottish Trade Union Congress enthusiastically supported devolution.81 In the end, the ‘yes’ side in the 1979 referendum fell short of gathering support from 40 per cent of the (p.112) total electorate,82 and no Scottish Assembly was set up. Serious talks about devolution, however, paved the way for further discussions of Scotland's political future, which were galvanized by Thatcherism.

Thatcher, the Politics of Retrenchment, and Scottish Nationalism

The advent of Thatcherism represented a powerful regime change in British politics. As prime minister, Margaret Thatcher promoted a neo‐liberal conception of ‘Britishness’ to justify welfare state retrenchment and the privatization of public enterprises. Reconstructing this ‘Britishness’ as a capitalist identity rooted in self‐reliance and personal responsibility, Thatcher elevated ‘popular capitalism’ and private property over social citizenship and public ownership.83 Rather than pursue the reduction of social and economic cleavages, Thatcherism emerged as an attempt to unite wealthier citizens against the less privileged segments of British society. ‘Increasingly Tory populism is taking the form of unification of a privileged nation of “good citizens” and “hard workers” against a contained and subordinate nation which extends beyond the inner cities and their ethnic minorities to include much of the non‐skilled working class outside the South‐East.’84 This quotation stresses both the class and the territorial logics behind Thatcher's attack against social citizenship and the modern British welfare state. To a certain extent, Thatcherism weakened the ideological connection between the welfare state and British national identity that emerged after 1945. Although the NHS remained a powerful symbol of British identity, Thatcherism somewhat successfully promoted a competing set of neo‐liberal ‘national values’ that exist alongside, yet challenge, the idea of shared, British social citizenship.

Before exploring the consequences for Scotland of the Thatcherite attacks against the welfare state, one must assess the concrete scope of the social policy reforms enacted under the successive Conservative governments of Margaret Thatcher (1979–90) and John Major (1990–7). Regarding social policy, perhaps the most crucial reform occurred in the (p.113) field of public housing. When Margaret Thatcher's Conservative Party came to power in 1979, the United Kingdom had the largest pool of public housing in Western Europe, the outcome of decades of direct state investment beginning before the Second World War. Following the war, both Labour and Conservative governments expanded the stock of public housing.85 Considering this, the privatization of public housing constituted a key objective of the first Thatcher government. The centrepiece of housing restructuring became known as the ‘right to buy’ policy. Encapsulated in the Housing Act of 1980, this policy allowed tenants living in public housing facilities to purchase their property at a discount calculated according to the length of residence.86 Overall, the ‘right to buy’ policy proved quite popular because it allowed ‘[g]roups of people who in the past might never have expected to own their own homes’ to do so.87

Other reforms enacted under conservative rule proved far more controversial. From the privatization of public enterprises to the poll tax, neo‐liberal health care reforms, and cutbacks in social services, a number of Conservative reforms faced much popular opposition. Because many existing social and economic policies had created strong constituencies and institutional legacies, Conservatives failed to ‘dismantle the welfare state’.88 Yet, in addition to selling public housing to tenants, several reforms undermined the modern British welfare state and the idea of social citizenship. Pension reform illustrates that logic effectively. As in other policy areas, Conservatives successfully increased citizens' reliance on private benefits and personal savings at the expense of state provisions. In 1980, a change in the indexation system of the flat pension gradually reduced the real value of benefits over time. Six years later, the Thatcher government implemented significant benefit cuts in the earnings‐related public pension scheme enacted in the mid‐1970s (SERPS). This reform encouraged more than five million workers to leave the state scheme in order to set up their own ‘personal pension’.89 Although the Thatcher government failed to completely dismantle the public pension system, it (p.114) did alter the balance between the public and the private sectors in favour of the latter.

In part, because the NHS had become the most powerful symbol of the British welfare state, attempts were also made to reshape this large institution. First, the management of the NHS shifted in 1983 from a corporatist model of management centred on the medical professions to a business‐like model of governance based on an idealized vision of corporate practices. Six years later, the neo‐liberal campaign to transform the NHS reached a new level with the advent of the so‐called internal market, a rather unsuccessful attempt to bring the apparent virtues of market competition into the public health care system. The concentration of legislative power within the British welfare state permitted such unilateral attempts to reshape the health care system.90 This type of reform would have proven much harder to implement in Belgium's fragmented social insurance system (Chapter 4), or even in the context of Canada's federal system (Chapter 3).

The measure that triggered the most opposition in Scotland was in fact not directly related to social policy. Widely contested, the infamous poll tax regressively transformed United Kingdom local taxation.91 Replacing the rating system that determined local tax rates according to the rental value of houses, the poll tax imposed a flat rate with a reduction for low‐income individuals and families. The idea behind the poll tax was that, because all individuals use their share of local services, everyone should pay equally. In the long run, Conservatives believed that the poll tax would encourage individuals to embrace fiscal conservatism against high‐spending (read Labour) local councils. But the poll tax proved a major political mistake for the Conservatives as it infuriated many Britons. Protest waves and even riots illustrated the scope of the popular revolt against the poll tax. Yet opposition to the poll tax was strongest in Scotland, largely because the implementation of the tax began a year earlier there than in the rest of the United Kingdom. Although local Tories requested such early implementation, some Scots believed that Scotland served as a mere ‘guinea pig’ for Thatcherite, neo‐liberal policies. More importantly,

The introduction of the poll tax highlighted the inflexible nature of British government in Scotland…. The attack on local government was also particularly (p.115) significant because, as nationalized industries and state‐sponsored economic intervention declined, services provided by local authorities were in many ways (with the exception of the National Health Service) the last significant remnants of the corporatist Welfare State.92

In Scotland, churches, trade unions, local officials, and opposition parties mobilized against the poll tax. It was major protests in London in 1990, however, that triggered Margaret Thatcher's exit from politics and, two years later, the repudiation of the unpopular policy.93

At the broadest level, the discourse and policies of the Thatcher and Major governments had the unintended consequence of widening the appeal of nationalist politics in Scotland by making home rule a more attractive option than ever for a substantial number of Scots. In this context, nationalism sprung from nationhood. Put another way, the broad‐based movement towards home rule that developed in the 1980s and 1990s to deliver a Scottish Parliament in 1999 was largely a direct product of the Thatcher years. From a partisan perspective, Labour MPs Gordon Brown and Douglas Alexander described it in these terms: ‘The constitutional consequences of Mrs Thatcher …are that, in Scotland at least, another Mrs Thatcher can never represent the same threat. No second Mrs Thatcher could ever inflict such damage on Scottish civic life again.’94 The Conservative governments also provided a new logic to home rule represented by the idea that Scotland needed political autonomy to develop social programmes specifically tailored for Scottish society and coherent with perceived Scottish values and interests. In other words, the close connection between Scottish nationalism and progressive social policies was also related to the actions of the successive conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s. At least four reasons explain the strong impact of the Conservative rule on Scottish politics and society.

First, the Conservative Party never enjoyed in Scotland the type of support it garnered in England during the 1980s and 1990s. Yet Scots were unable to prevent the election of Conservative governments in Westminster. The differential of support for the Conservative Party in England and Scotland in each of the four elections it won between 1979 and 1992 ranged between fifteen and twenty‐two percentage points.95 This was the result of the political decline of the Conservative Party in Scotland since the 1960s.


Most of the population and wealth of the United Kingdom were concentrated in England, which had become the stronghold of the Conservative Party. Scotland was another matter. The Conservative Party had not won a majority in Scotland since 1955; in the election of 1992, the Conservatives won only 25 percent of the Scottish vote.96

The Labour Party was the dominant political force in Scottish politics during the 1980s and 1990s, which meant that Scotland was largely under‐represented within the government's ranks. Considering the high level of power concentration in the Westminster parliamentary system, this meant that Scots elected a large number of Labour MPs who could hardly shape the reform agenda as members of the opposition. The political centralization inherent in Britain's parliamentary institutions triggered a sense of collective alienation and powerlessness in Scotland. In such a context, as I. G. C. Hutchison puts it:

Labour was able to present itself as the natural protector of ‘traditional’ Scottish values and institutions—in the sense that the party sought to defend the post‐1945 Welfare State. (…) Labour was able to cast Thatcherism as an extreme ideology which had been imposed on a hostile Scottish electorate.97

Second, the Thatcher government challenged the structure of the British union‐state, which triggered a powerful nationalist and autonomist reaction. Thatcherism attempted to replace notions of social and territorial identity (e.g. Scots and Welsh) with a focus on economic individualism. In other words, Thatcher sought to redefine Britishness in a mainly individualist and neo‐liberal fashion that potentially clashed with Scotland's autonomy and sense of economic solidarity. In this context, her push for ‘popular capitalism’ as well as social policy privatization and retrenchment were frequently seen as attacks against Scotland, because they undermined the carriers of Scottish distinctiveness, autonomy, and identity.98 Moreover, as Scott L. Greer argues, starting after the 1987 British election, centralizing conservative policies emerged as a major threat to the administrative and societal autonomy of Scotland, a situation that infuriated Scottish organizations ranging from professional groups and labour unions to churches and voluntary organizations. The willingness of these organizations to defend their autonomy and the autonomy of their Scotland within the British union‐state considerably fuelled the (p.117) devolution movement. The result was the creation of ‘an overwhelming pro‐devolution coalition within and outside Labour’.99

Third, the Thatcherite approach to the state and to social policy never resonated in Scotland the way it did in the wealthier southern part of England, despite the recurrent conservative discourse depicting Scotland as the birthplace of individualism and market liberalism.100 Instead, Scottish political and intellectual leaders reacted to Thatcher's ideas by arguing that Scotland was a more collectivist, egalitarian, and decent society than was England. One such intellectual leader, Gerry Hassan, stated:

By the late 1980s, Scottishness had become to me a kind of political resistance against Thatcherism. This was imbued with a moral superiority in relation to the English. They embraced Thatcherism; we rejected it. We opposed tax cuts, privatisation, council house sales; they embraced it.101

Finally, Scottish frustration with Conservative governments was not simply a matter of powerlessness, identity, and ideological opposition. With the exception of a few measures like the ‘right to buy’ policy, Conservative reforms generally proved unpopular in Scotland. The privatization and retrenchment policies of the Thatcher and Major governments were especially painful in Scotland considering its higher unemployment and poverty rates when compared to southern England. Earl Reitan summarizes the dominant perception of the time:

The policies of Thatcher had been devastating to Scotland, with its large public sector, unionized and overmanned industries, and extensive welfare dependency. Thatcher's dismantling of nationalized industries, restrictions on local governments, and financial squeeze on the public services had left the industrial cities of Scotland prostrate. Unemployment in Scotland was 25 percent higher that in the United Kingdom as a whole.102

Furthermore, the administrative mechanisms centred on the Scottish Office that were supposed to adapt Westminster legislation to the Scottish context were largely ineffective. At best, the Scottish Office managed to slow down the implementation of Thatcherite policies in the fields of health care and housing policy.103 From that perspective, Thatcherism (p.118) triggered a sense of social injustice and institutional vulnerability that legitimized the crusade for devolution.

It is in this context that the movement towards home rule re‐emerged. This movement was fundamentally different from past iterations. Galvanized by Thatcherism, it was more broad‐based and found its logic in the idea that Scotland needed political autonomy to be in a position to develop more progressive social policies than those enacted in Westminster. The Thatcher years, therefore, gave a new political twist to Scottish nationhood and redefined Scottish nationalism in part around the pursuit of distinct social policy goals. This emerging connection between nationalism and progressive social policies was clearly observable in two crucial political actors: Scottish Labour and the SNP. Scottish Labour, which always represented left of centre positions, developed a clear pro‐devolution stance in the name of the social and ideological distinctiveness of the Scottish nation. The SNP, which traditionally had autonomist or secessionist objectives, developed a social democratic profile. Until the 1980s, the SNP had remained ambiguous with respect to its ideological orientation for fear of alienating nationalist voters, though in practice, its programme and policy agenda had largely moved left of centre in the 1970s.104 With the resentment towards the right building up through the 1980s, there was little risk in presenting the SNP as a social democratic party.105 On the contrary, the connection between Scottish nationalism and social democratic positions was crystallized by the anti‐Thatcherite drive towards home rule.

After the referendum defeat of 1979, prominent supporters of home rule came together to keep the movement alive. They organized a Campaign for a Scottish Assembly (CSA) with visions of holding a constitutional convention. No such convention occurred, however, until the shock of the 1987 election, the so‐called Doomsday Scenario that saw the Conservative Party reduced to ten of their seventy‐two original seats in Scotland, down from twenty‐one following the previous election. As the political gulf between Scotland and England was seemingly increasing, the CSA created a steering committee of fifteen prominent Scots drawn from the ranks of Labour, the Liberals, and the SNP as well as trade unions, churches, and voluntary organizations.106 The revolt against the poll tax encouraged many civil society actors to join the push for devolution. For example, the Scottish Trades Union Congress (STUC) played an instrumental role in the (p.119) emerging Home Rule Movement. For the STUC, the push for devolution became a central aspect of the left‐wing struggle against Thatcherism. Although the STUC never supported independence, intense social mobilization created strong ties between the Scottish labour and the nationalist movement.107

The steering committee produced a report entitled ‘A Claim of Right for Scotland’ that promoted a Scottish Assembly in the name of democratic legitimacy. The report affirmed Scottish nationhood and specifically referred to the unpopularity of the poll tax in Scotland as an example of the problems generated by the ‘English’ constitution.108 It also proposed a constitutional convention, an idea endorsed by Scottish Labour and the Scottish Liberal Democrats. The SNP declined to participate when the Labour Party rejected its proposal of a post‐convention referendum on the options of status quo, independence, or implementation of the convention recommendations. The Conservative Party, which rejected devolution, also chose not to participate. The constitutional convention was nonetheless established with participants drawn from political parties, local authorities, trade unions, and various civil society organizations. It produced a document entitled ‘Scotland's Parliament, Scotland's Right’ that formally proposed the creation of a parliament for Scotland. In making the case for a Scottish parliament, the convention's report stressed the need for Scotland to autonomously design public policy. After having discussed the potential benefits of a Scottish Parliament for developing a more adequate economic policy, the report states:

[M]uch the same applies to the field of social welfare—a broad phrase, but the one that best describes the wide range of concerns which have so sharply distinguished the political will of Scotland in recent years. Scotland has consistently declared through the ballot box the wish for an approach to public policy which accords more closely with its collective and community traditions. The frustration which has arisen as that wish is disregarded should be a source of concern to all who hold democracy dear.109

More concretely, ‘Scotland's Parliament, Scotland's Right’ asserts:

The powers of the Scottish Parliament will enable it to develop the type of high quality public services to individuals which are the measure of a civilised community. It will be able to judge and reflect Scotland's priorities with regard to (p.120) improving health or housing or community care or education….It will be able to arrange the organisation, funding and policy of health provision to deliver the sort of health service Scotland wants. It will be able to decide the best ways of supporting family life, providing care for people with handicaps, illnesses or disabilities, the elderly, and for children in need.110

The work of the convention became a blueprint for setting up a Scottish Parliament. After the victory of the Conservative Party (now led by John Major) despite another poor showing in Scotland (eleven seats), Labour firmly committed to devolution. The victory of ‘new’ Labour in 1997 came with, among other things, a programme to modernize the United Kingdom that included devolution. A referendum was planned for 1997, when Scots would be asked if they wanted the establishment of a Scottish Parliament with tax‐raising power. The ‘yes‐yes’ side functioned under a large umbrella organization, Scotland Forward, featuring all the key players of the convention in addition to the SNP, which was now taking the stand that devolution would set the stage for independence. Three main types of arguments were deployed by the ‘yes‐yes’ campaign. The first, and most general, was that political decisions affecting Scotland would be made in Scotland by representatives of the Scottish people. The second was that formal political autonomy for Scotland would represent a chance to foster a ‘new politics’, that is, a more genuine democracy and political representation. Some proposed political features in this context were an electoral system with some measure of proportionality and commitments to strengthen women's representation in parliament. The third was that a Scottish Parliament could enact social policies more in tune with the more solidaristic preferences of Scots on redistribution and the specific needs of Scotland. For example, devolution was argued to have the potential to improve Scotland's poor health record. The Doctors for Devolution group suggested:

Scottish health and health care have some remarkable and durable differences as compared with England. In spite of a social policy designed to redistribute resources within the United Kingdom according to need, the differences in health statistics remain obstinately at the 1948 levels. Not only that but Scotland has some of the greatest problems in health care in the industrialised world—notably in lung cancer and dental decay, and one of the highest rates of deaths from vascular disease in the world.111

(p.121) The group also put forward the following opinion: ‘Doctors for Devolution believe that many of the changes produced by the Parliament will cause considerable alteration in the attitude and administration of the Health Service in Scotland. We judge that on balance these will be beneficial.’112

There is some evidence that the argument about developing more suitable social policy for Scotland resonated strongly with voters. For example, in a 1996 poll, 80 per cent of Scots agreed (and 12 per cent disagreed) with the statement: ‘Money for Scotland's public services such as schools and hospitals would be spent more wisely if the decisions about it were made by the Scottish Parliament.’113 By comparison, there was less support for statements about ‘new politics’. For example, only 56 per cent agreed (and 21per cent disagreed) with the idea that ‘the plans to make sure that there are roughly equal numbers of men and women making up a Scottish Parliament would help it to make better decisions’.114 In a series of questions about what would improve, remain the same, or worsen with a Scottish Parliament, 64 per cent believed ‘public services such as health and education’ would get better, compared to 55 per cent for governance (Scotland will be governed better than it is today…); 43 per cent for the economy (Scotland's economy will grow faster… ); and 38 per cent for personal living conditions∕wealth (People like you will be better off under a Scottish Parliament… ).115 Only 8 per cent believed that income tax rates would go down.

In comparison to Scotland Forward, the ‘no‐no’ campaign was weak and had a relatively low profile. Among the political parties, only the Conservatives opposed devolution. Their arguments centred on the notions of a ‘slippery slope’ towards independence and more conflictual relationships with Westminster. To counter the ‘yes‐yes’ argument of more progressive and better suited social policies after devolution, conservative personalities stressed financial costs and dilemmas. For example, a document entitled ‘Scottish Assembly: We're Better Off Without It’ argued:

[T]he inability to fund every pet project would be blamed on the Treasury and House of Commons. These frustrations would lead to disenchantment as the imperfections of an imperfect system become clear …the real issue is whether the Scottish Parliament could maintain existing public expenditure levels without a (p.122) substantial transfer of funds from the Westminster Parliament. The short answer is that it couldn't.116

Overall, as Gerry Mooney and Charlotte Williams put it: ‘In the case of Scotland, ( … ) social policy was central to the demand for devolution itself.’117 The Thatcher years served to exacerbate Scottish and English differences in social policy preferences and fused social and national solidarity into a potent socio‐political force that was at the heart of the devolution movement. From this angle, issues of social solidarity associated with social policy helped Scottish political forces make a stronger case for devolution by stressing what united Scots against the British conservative government.

In the end, the referendum produced a clear result: 74 per cent voted in favour of a Scottish Parliament, and 64 per cent favoured providing it with tax‐raising powers. The argument of ‘spending the existing Scottish Office budget more wisely on education, health, and jobs’ was judged by the Scotland Forward strategic communication team to have been a key message for securing the win.118 The 1998 Scotland Act created a Scottish Parliament and a Scottish Executive, but it did not formally divide sovereignty, which remained with Westminster. The act specifies ‘reserved’ and ‘devolved matters’. Reserved matters are policy areas where the United Kingdom Parliament retains exclusive responsibility. They include defence, foreign affairs, immigration, national security, economic competition, broadcasting, and ‘Social Security’, that is, income‐maintenance programmes like old‐age pensions and unemployment benefits. Taxation powers reside largely with the United Kingdom Parliament. The Scottish Parliament can change the basic rate of income tax, but by a maximum of three pence on the pound. Devolved matters are not explicitly listed in the Scotland Act.119 All matters not specifically reserved are considered devolved to the Scottish Parliament, for example, agriculture, forestry, and fishing; education and training; Gaelic; health; housing; law and home affairs; local government; natural and built heritage; planning; police and fire services; social work; sports and the arts; statistics and public records; transport; and tourism and economic development.120 In the field of social policy, devolution in the key areas of health, housing, (p.123) education and training, as well as social work (i.e. social services) means that the Scottish Executive provides the statutory and financial framework for NHS Scotland, administrates schools and universities, and actively tackles issues like homelessness, poverty, and social exclusion. Westminster can still make laws on devolved matters applying to Scotland but, according to the so‐called Sewell Convention, not without the consent of the Scottish Parliament. The creation of the Scottish Parliament closed a chapter for the Home Rule Movement in Scotland, but also served to place the identity dimensions of Scottish politics in a new context.

National Identity and Nationalist Politics in Post‐Devolution Scotland

The drive towards home rule consolidated the notion, constructed most recently through the reaction against Thatcherism but stretching back to the older ‘Scottish myth’, that Scotland was a more collectivist, egalitarian, and solidaristic society than England.121 From a comparative perspective, the contemporary Scottish and Québécois identities are similar in so far as they are equated with left‐of‐centre politics, at least when it comes to the issue of redistribution. Indeed, the political implications of the perceived Scottish (and Québécois) values are a positive bias towards state interventionism. In the words of Lindsay Paterson: ‘[B]eing Scottish includes believing that the state can help individual citizens to flourish.’122 Differently put, there is a general sense of a ‘Scottish model’ (although this term is not commonly used) somewhat akin, at least ideologically speaking, to a ‘Quebec model’, which ‘lies on the fault line between European social marketism and Atlantic neo‐liberalism’.123 More specifically, according to Scott L. Greer and Holly Jarman, Scotland is characterized by an original policy style ‘based on universalistic, directly provided, undifferentiated public services that use networks rather than competition and are governed based on a high degree of trust in the professionalism of providers’.124

Political parties in post‐devolution Scotland represent a first‐hand expression of the notion that Scotland generally leans to the left when (p.124) it comes to redistribution and is friendly to progressive politics and social policy. The constitutional and institutional change involved in devolution meant the creation of a specifically Scottish party system. This party system is distinct from the United Kingdom's in at least three respects. First, the strength of the SNP and the weakness of the Conservative Party in Scotland mean that the Nationalists, rather than the Conservatives, are one of the two major parties, along with Labour. Second, as a result of the element of proportionality in Scotland's additional member electoral system, more parties are able to gain significant representation (percentage‐wise) in the Scottish Parliament than at Westminster. At the 2003 elections, the Scottish Green Party and the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) managed to win approximately 5 per cent of the seats (seven and six, respectively),125 although only the Greens managed to gain representation at the 2007 elections (two seats). Finally, the Scottish party system is heavily tilted to the left, much more than the United Kingdom‐wide party system. This represents a political expression of the ideological connection between Scottishness and a more left‐leaning socio‐economic vision.

Until the 2007 Scottish elections, the strongest party in Scotland's system was Scottish Labour, having won 56 and 50 out of 129 seats in the first two Scottish elections. Although Tony Blair's re‐branding of Labour around the ‘Third Way’ rhetoric also affected Scotland, Scottish Labour (much like its English counterpart) did not drop references to the positive role that could be played by the state to foster equality and economic solidarity. For example, Scottish Labour's Manifesto for the 2003 Scottish elections began with the following message from then leader and First Minister Jack McConnell: ‘Government should be on your side. Not secretive or remote, not expedient nor wasteful. Not acting for self‐interest, but committed to the national interest. On the side of children needing a better start in life.…On the side of patients waiting too long.’126 The Manifesto then devotes considerable space to discussing the party's strategies on health care, poverty, housing, and child care. Labour still occupies a good section of the centre‐left in Scotland. It is closely associated with the Scottish Trades Union Congress and, as we discuss in the next section, diverged from the market‐friendly approach of Tony Blair's government in some policy areas. The Scottish Labour Party (p.125) lost to the SNP in the 2007 elections (winning forty‐six seats against the Nationalists’ forty‐seven). This close result, after eight years of Labour‐Liberal Democrat government, showed that Labour could not take its position of power for granted in Scotland.

For the SNP, the 2007 results were a tremendous victory as it substantially improved its performance from the first two elections to Scotland's Parliament when it garnered thirty‐five and twenty‐seven seats, respectively. Of course, some support for the SNP can be explained by the natural fatigue of a governing party after eight years. At the same time, the SNP never concealed that its main political plan was independence, a position that stood in sharp contrast to Labour's commitment to the Union. Ideologically, however, the two parties' policy discourses were very similar in balancing progressive positions on social policy with concern for economic growth and job creation. For example, in describing the party's values, the SNP's 2005 Manifesto states:

[A]n SNP government will be open and progressive. We will promote economic success, tackle inequality, and give people the support they need to make the most of their lives. We believe that government has a responsibility to provide high quality public services, look after the vulnerable, and foster a spirit of enterprise.127

It then specifies that ‘the SNP's commitment to equality of opportunity demands an end to poverty and in particular to child poverty, which blights the life‐chances of so many young people in Scotland’.128 The reference to child poverty exemplifies how close the SNP and Labour parties are on social policy, as fighting this type of poverty has been a central element of ‘new’ Labour's programme.129 This ideological similarity might explain why Labour voters are almost as likely to define themselves exclusively as Scottish as are SNP voters: both appear to stand for similar values. For example, data drawn from the Scottish election survey of 1997 show that 32 per cent of SNP voters chose the category ‘Scottish, not British’, compared to 25 per cent of Labour voters.130 The fairly similar ‘Scottishness’ level among Labour and SNP voters was also noticeable five years earlier when 38 per cent of SNP voters considered (p.126) themselves ‘Scottish, not British’, compared to 31 per cent of Labour voters.131

Other parties crowd the centre‐left of the ideological spectrum in the Scottish party system. Much like Scottish Labour and the SNP, the Scottish Liberal Democrats, who won sixteen seats in the 2007 elections (and seventeen in the two before), emphasize the caring role of government for children, for the elderly, and for the sick and needy.132 The Scottish Green party is even further to the left, having proposed, for example, an allocation dubbed a Citizen's Income Scheme to be distributed to all Scottish residents,133 The SSP, self‐described as Scotland's ‘most radical political party’, has proclaimed its ‘long‐term commitment to building a new society free from war, free from poverty, free from exploitation, free from racism’ by making Scotland a ‘socialist democracy’.134 The SSP favours outright independence and the Greens ‘greater independence’ in the name of socialism and environmentalism, respectively, which adds a new twist to the ideological connection between Scottish nationalism and left‐leaning public policy. Both parties made a significant breakthrough in the 2003 elections, but the SSP failed to gain representation in the 2007 elections after a leadership change and internal dissent.

The only right‐of‐centre party in Scotland is the Scottish Conservative Party, which gained eighteen seats in the first two Scottish elections and seventeen in 2007. The Conservatives stress rural economic development and law and order issues rather than distinctive social policy for Scotland.135 When they tackle social policy, it is usually health care and education, where they emphasize the notion of personal choice. The Conservatives express their policies in these terms:

Our very different approach is based on trusting the Scottish people and empowering them. This starts with smaller government and the real devolution of decision‐making. We will cut taxes and red tape, so freeing entrepreneurs to build our economy. We will give parents and patients real choice in education and health.136

This ‘very different approach’, coupled with the Conservative opposition to devolution through the 1980s and 1990s, is considered deviant by the (p.127) other Scottish parties; the SNP, for example, characterizes the Conservatives as ‘anti‐Scottish.137

What do survey data tell us about the popular notion that Scots are more collectivist and progressive‐minded with respect to redistribution than the English? There is some foundation to make this claim, but only some. Data from the 2001 British Election Survey and the 2000 British∕Scottish Social Attitudes Survey show only a small discrepancy between Scotland and England on questions about social equality and the role of the state and of trade unions.138 For example, 43 per cent of Scots felt that ‘state benefits for unemployed people are too low and cause hardship’, compared to 40 per cent in England. Compared to 31.1 per cent in England, just 23.7 percent of Scots thought that ‘private enterprise is the best way to solve Britain's economic problems’. Finally, 14.4 per cent of Scots and 13.4 per cent of English felt that ‘there is no need for strong trade unions to protect employees' working conditions and wages’. The same survey also demonstrated that, before the Scottish Executive implemented the long‐term care for the elderly programme, there was little difference in preferences about who should be responsible for ‘old people's standard of living’.139 In Scotland, 85 per cent felt that it was ‘definitely’ the government's responsibility, 11 per cent said ‘probably’, 0.3 per cent opted for ‘probably not’, and 0.5 per cent said ‘definitely not’. In England, the results were 80 per cent, 16 per cent, 1 per cent, and 0.5 per cent, respectively. A question regarding another future source of policy divergence between Scotland and England, up‐front tuition fees, yielded a similar picture.140 In Scotland, 5 per cent felt that ‘all students [should] pay’, 56 per cent that ‘some students [should] pay, depending on their circumstances’, and 38 per cent that ‘no students [should] pay’. In England, the results were 8 per cent, 61 per cent, and 30 per cent, respectively.

Data from the 2004 Scottish Social attitudes survey confirm the argument that Scotland is only slightly more to the left than England on questions relating to taxes and welfare spending, unemployment benefits, and students fees.141 However, Scottish distinctiveness disappears when Scotland is compared to Wales and Northern Ireland, or when England is disaggregated into regions.142 Yet, the importance of social democratic (p.128) positions in Scottish politics becomes apparent when their connection to identity and constitutional choices is considered. On the issue of identity, data from the 2001 and 2003 Scottish Social attitudes survey show that Scots who see themselves as solely or mostly Scottish typically have left‐of‐centre positions on redistribution while those who identify equally as Scottish and British, mostly as British or solely as British, lean more, comparatively speaking, towards the centre‐right.143 On the issue of constitutional choices, Scots who support devolution and∕or further constitutional reforms are generally on the left when it comes to redistribution while Scots who favour a return to a pre‐devolution system are mainly on the right.144

This connection between social democratic positions, Scottishness, and constitutional change explains why the notion of being able to adopt and maintain progressive social programmes is a key aspect of the case for independence. The SNP's argument for independence is multifaceted: it features, for example, the notion of being a ‘normal’ country, the possibility of gaining an international voice in European and international organizations, and the chance to stimulate economic growth and job creation. Another central SNP idea is that an independent Scotland would be able to offer more generous social benefits than it can from within the United Kingdom. From this perspective, the SNP holds that devolution was good for Scotland, but that independence would be even better. For example, it states:

The Scottish Parliament has passed some important legislation, including bills on personal care for the elderly, land reform, homelessness, and proportional representation for local government elections. However, on key issues such as economic growth or pensions, it remains powerless.…The Scottish Parliament is also the most financially powerless parliament on earth.145

In sum, the SNP decries the financial capacity of the Scottish Parliament and its inability to legislate in reserved matters. As a concrete incentive for pensioners to support independence, the SNP proposes a ‘Citizen's pension of at least £110 for single pensioners and £168 for couples’. This pension, which would be based on residency in Scotland rather than contributions, is presented as a policy that eliminates means testing and fights pensioners' poverty.146

(p.129) The argument for independence necessarily involves adopting an ambiguous position towards the Scottish Parliament as an institution, praising its achievements, yet underlining its limitations. In government, the SNP has followed this path as reflected by its call for a ‘national conversation’ on the future of Scotland. Shortly after its election win, the SNP produced a policy paper that outlined the possibilities for change that could fit within the framework of devolution and transformations that could only be achieved through independence.147 Among the types of change that could be implemented within the devolution framework, that is, by transferring additional powers to Scotland, the SNP Scottish Executive mentions those that could make for a ‘fairer Scotland’ and a ‘healthier Scotland’. In this context, the document suggests that some responsibility for social security (e.g. determining eligibility for some benefits and tax credits) and pensions could be assumed by Holyrood, as well as additional powers over public health matters.148 Interestingly, the specific discussion on independence contained in the ‘national conversation’ paper covers mostly matters of ‘high politics’ (defence, international relations, etc. ). The ‘national conversation’ policy paper constitutes somewhat of a departure for the SNP, which typically linked the ideas of a ‘fairer’ and ‘healthier’ Scotland squarely to independence. Now in government, the SNP seems to be ready to show more flexibility with respect to Scotland's constitutional options, and to consider that the tools to achieve a fairer and healthier society can, at least partially, be summoned within devolution.

The Impact of Devolution on Social Policy Development in Scotland

Because the devolution process only began in 1998, assessing its impact on social policy development is difficult. In the early 2000s, media reports depicted Scotland as the ‘happening place’ for social policy reform in the United Kingdom. It has often been said, half‐jokingly, that if it were (p.130) not for the weather, there would be mass population movements from England to Scotland, where social programmes seem more generous.149 Yet the common wisdom of sharp policy divergence between England and Scotland may exaggerate the true scope of policy change occurring in Scotland since the late 1990s.150 At least two obstacles impede any radical divergence in social policy between Scotland and England. The first is the existence of reserved matters, most importantly ‘Social Security’. The second is the limited level of fiscal autonomy enjoyed by the Scottish Executive. Indeed, to finance activities that fall under its jurisdiction, Scotland is dependent upon an annual block grant calculated according to the so‐called Barnett Formula that provides Scotland with an expenditure base at about 32 per cent of England's per capita level.151 As mentioned above, the Scottish Parliament has the option to vary the basic income tax rate by 3 per cent, but increasing the tax to generate more revenues for Scotland is a politically unattractive option.

Before the 2007 elections, there was a third obstacle to the construction of distinctive social programmes in Scotland linked to the structure, alignment, and electoral success of political parties in the United Kingdom. Between 1999 and 2007, the Labour Party was in power both at Westminster and Holyrood, though as a result of the proportionality element in the Scottish electoral system, Labour in Scotland governed with the Liberal Democrats. Overall, however, the political domination of the Labour Party in Scotland and in the United Kingdom at large during those years meant that peaceful coordination and discussions, rather than acute political and ideological conflicts, dominated the reform agenda. Indeed, the internal structures of the Labour Party are fairly centralized, and despite the fact that Scottish Labour is somewhat closer to Old than New Labour, the British Labour government and the Labour‐led Scottish Executive maintained fairly cordial relations during the first five years of the twenty‐first century. Smoothing these relations was the fact that much of the Scottish bureaucracy has remained intact since devolution and remains integrated with the British civil service. As one (p.131) observer puts it: ‘The new government of Scotland is the Scottish Office with a legislature on top.…The result is that devolved Scotland is an old administration run by a new representative body.’152 However, the election of an SNP government in 2007 opens up possibilities for more divergence. Not only will Westminster not have the influence on the Scottish Executive that it had during Labour's years in power at Holyrood through the internal structures of the party, but the SNP Executive will most likely be looking to accentuate policy differences with England.

Despite these forces that limited the extent of territorial divergence on social policy, devolution has impacted social policy reform and generated some policy divergence between Scotland and England. A few significant measures have been adopted in Scotland since 1999. Among them was the January 2000 decision to abolish up‐front tuition fees for university students, a policy not implemented in England. Although a student contribution is required after graduation, this money is diverted to a reformed system of financial aid for current students.153

The most effective assessment of the distinctiveness of Scottish social policy after devolution is a comparison of specific policy areas. Our analysis focuses first on approaches to social exclusion, an issue that has moved up the policy agenda in the United Kingdom and elsewhere since the late 1990s. We then examine the field of health care by discussing NHS reform and the creation of a universal long‐term care programme for the elderly in Scotland.

Social inclusion

When New Labour came to power in 1997, the concept of ‘social exclusion’ became a central policy issue in the United Kingdom. Originating in France, this concept generally refers to poverty and long‐term unemployment, among other things.154 Frequently associated with New Labour's activation policies,155 the idea of social exclusion also has the advantage of moving the policy debates beyond explicit and traditional class issues. ‘Instead, the emphasis is on reintegrating failing individuals into society (p.132) and allowing them to make their contribution to economic and social life, to the ultimate benefit of all.’156 In 1997, the Blair government established a Social Exclusion Unit to reduce social exclusion, defined as ‘what can happen when people or areas suffer from a combination of linked problems such as unemployment, poor skills, low incomes, poor housing, high crime environments, bad health, and family breakdown’.157 In Scotland, a Social Inclusion Network staffed by civil servants and representatives from local authorities and NGOs was created as talk of progressive social policy and ‘new politics’ peaked during the period preceding devolution.158 The network insisted on the terminology ‘social inclusion’ (as opposed to social exclusion in England) in order to stress structural rather than behavioural factors and to avoid stigmatizing particular groups.159 ‘Social inclusion’ in Scottish policy discourse acquired broader meaning than was evident in England, as policy experts used it to refer to issues ranging from unemployment to gender inequality and racism. The Scottish Social Inclusion Network helped produce the Scottish Executive's action plan on social justice, ‘Social Justice: A Scotland where Everyone Matters’. Overall, the discourse on social justice in Scotland took a more positive tone than in England. Although the Social Inclusion Network was abolished in 2003, a large number of community organizations are still involved in social inclusion initiatives across Scotland. Because of the smaller policy community, it has proved easier to coordinate the actions of these organizations than in England. Social inclusion initiatives comprise modest, low‐key programmes that have produced mixed results so far in Scotland.160 Yet, this policy area is of growing social and political importance. Hence, the fact that Scotland is doing things slightly differently than England in that area is significant.161

During the first five years of the twenty‐first century, the STUC played a significant role in the development of social inclusion policies. It worked closely with the Scottish Executive on the implementation of programmes to fight racism, to promote lifelong learning, and to close the gap between male and female wage earners. The 2002 Memorandum of Understanding consecrated the formal integration of trade unions (p.133) (STUC) with the Scottish policy‐making process.162 The official inclusion of trade unions in Scotland's post‐devolution policy‐making initiatives has strengthened the ideological connection between Scottishness and progressive social policy. According to a former trade union official, the logic of consultation became so real that the STUC, despite a lower media profile than during the devolution campaign, gained far greater access to policy‐makers than it enjoyed previous to 1999.163 This situation differed from England's, where Prime Minister Blair (1997–2007) did much to reduce the perceived policy‐making influence of trade unions. This pushing aside of trade unions is a crucial aspect of New Labour policy in England, a legacy of Thatcherism164 that was largely rejected in Scotland.

The following discussion of health care reform confirms the idea that, in the years following devolution, civil society actors played an increasingly central role in Scottish social policy development. This consultative approach is similar to the one that has prevailed in Quebec since the 1970s. Indeed, both societies feature a prominent discourse on national solidarity, cooperation, and social democracy involving some kind of corporatist policy‐making.

Health care reform

The centrepiece of the modern British welfare state, health care is probably the best example of Scotland's potential for policy distinctiveness in the post‐devolution era.165 When devolution became reality in 1999, Scotland had inherited Conservative health care policies such as the poorly implemented but significant ‘internal market’.166 Yet, these conservative policies were especially unpopular in Scotland, where influential medical professions are tied to prestigious medical schools. In part for that reason, these professions are influential actors within Scotland's policy communities, and their representatives had long criticized most of the NHS reforms enacted under the Thatcher and Major governments.167 Scottish Labour also disliked these reforms. This groundswell (p.134) of discontent offered fertile soil for enacting measures that differed from the Blair government's pro‐market vision of health care.168 What has been significant about the post‐devolution Scottish NHS is the relative departure from market metaphors and private‐sector management styles, as well as the crystallization of a professional model of regulation more similar to the one associated with the pre‐Thatcher‐era NHS. The 2003 Scottish White Paper ‘Partnership for Care’ illustrated the concept that state officials should work with the medical professions instead of unilaterally imposing strict controls upon them. This report sketched a model for NHS governance distinct from the Blair government's emphasis on market solutions for health care reform.169 As a matter of policy, the Scottish Executive chose not to experiment with so‐called foundation hospitals while showing little enthusiasm for Blair's strategy of imposing targets upon the health care system.

A distinctive trait of Scottish health policy as compared to England's is the stronger emphasis on public health. This asymmetry owes much to the fact that Scots have long been described as one of the least healthy populations in Europe.170 Furthermore, the public health coalition is well organized in Scotland, and intense competition between left‐leaning parties has stimulated the development of public health programmes.171 In June 2005, the Scottish Parliament enacted legislation—Smoking, Health, and Social Care—that banned smoking in public places and provided free vision and dental check‐ups. The legislation, which some anti‐tobacco advocates depicted as a potential model for England to follow, came into force in March 2006.172

The enactment of a universal personal long‐term care programme for the elderly is certainly the most distinct and far‐reaching social measure adopted in the aftermath of devolution. Distinct from New Labour philosophy supporting the development of income‐tested programmes, free personal care for the elderly is grounded in the universalist logic of social citizenship traditionally associated with the post‐war British welfare state. Simultaneously, as in other advanced industrial countries, long‐term care policies are part of a broader set of measures dealing with so‐called new social risks related to population aging and changes in the labour market (p.135) and family structures.173 In Scotland, the personal long‐term care programme offers benefits to elderly citizens requiring nursing and personal care (including bathing, feeding, and dressing).174 The programme applies to elderly individuals living at home and in care homes. The implementation of this programme involves a significant re‐territorialization of social policy grounded in the idea of sub‐state national solidarity. Here, the discrepancy between Westminister and Holyrood is the product of divergent policy ideas. In England, the Blair government decided to enact means‐tested benefits even though it could afford citizenship‐based provisions like the ones now provided in Scotland.

From that perspective, the genesis of Scotland's programme is extremely revealing, as it underlines the interaction between party competition and the quest for national distinctiveness in post‐devolution Scotland. Ironically, the origins of Scotland's distinctive long‐term care programme lie in the pre‐devolution report of the Great Britain Royal Commission on Long‐Term Care, commonly known as the Sutherland Report, which advocated the creation of such a programme.175 The Blair government finally rejected the proposal in favour of a more modest, means‐tested program. Scotland's Labour First Minister Henry McLeish made it a point to deliver free personal care for the elderly.176 In November 2000, explicitly seeking to demonstrate that devolution would mean doing things differently, McLeish declared on a BBC programme (Newsnight Scotland) ‘that he would like to implement the Sutherland Report in full, funding personal care for the elderly in long‐stay homes’.177 Interestingly, his predecessor Donald Dewar had rejected the Sutherland Report, ‘arguing that it was unthinkable that citizens in one part of the United Kingdom could have better basic benefits than others’.178 In the end, the support of opposition parties for full implementation became important in the context of some hesitation within the Labour party.

Ironically, the strongest opposition to the personal care programme came from the ranks of the United Kingdom Labour Party and the Blair cabinet, who did not like to see the Scottish move undermine its decision (p.136) not to implement a more generous programme in England. The fact that the Scottish Parliament would enact a policy alternative based on a commission's report sponsored, yet finally ignored, by the Blair government created much resentment towards Scotland.179 Yet, in a concrete manifestation of its institutional autonomy, the Scottish Parliament did enact that measure in the name of Scotland's distinct social model. The necessary funds, initially estimated at 125 million pounds per year, were drawn from Whitehall's ‘Scottish Block’.180

Social policy divergence between Scotland and England becomes especially significant politically in the context of elections in the United Kingdom. Indeed, devolution added a new twist to the campaigning discourses and strategies of Westminster politicians because they have to address the existence of distinct policies in Scotland and England. This can mean explaining the perceived success of an English policy to a Scottish audience, or of a Scottish policy to English voters. In the 2005 general elections, for example, Prime Minister Tony Blair argued that his government had been quite successful at improving health care service delivery as measured by shorter waiting times for treatment. The consequence of this campaigning was to point to Scotland's longer waiting lists, which could undermine popular support for the distinct, less pro‐market approach of the Scottish Executive. Scottish politicians attempted to explain the longer waiting lists by arguing that the Scottish NHS prioritized cardiovascular and respiratory ailments, which meant that patients in need of more minor surgical procedures had to wait longer. In the end, this type of argument failed to persuade the Scottish public and, in the middle of the election campaign, the Scottish Executive announced that it would move towards more ‘English‐style’ NHS reforms.181

Policy divergence between Scotland and England therefore presents inherent limitations in so far as perceived failure on the Scottish side will result in tremendous pressures on the Scottish Executive to copy an English policy judged to be more successful. There will be even more pressure if the same party is in power at Holyrood and Westminster. From this perspective, Scotland in the devolution era may have the autonomy to adopt distinct social programmes in devolved policy areas, but it is not immune from England's influence through powerful agenda‐setting processes emanating from the central state.

(p.137) Yet devolution also means that Scotland presents agenda‐setting potential within British politics at large. This is particularly true because Scottish politics is generally left of centre when it comes to redistribution, and therefore likely to produce new social programmes that might not immediately find an English equivalent. Much like what happened in Canada with Quebec, Scotland could become a source of policy innovation in the social domain and, as a consequence, put pressure on Westminster to implement similar policies in England. For example, the Scottish long‐term care programme for the elderly caught the eye of progressive pressure groups in England. Unison, a British trade union, distributed a poster contrasting a happy (Scottish) senior, under the heading ‘care free’, alongside a sad and lonely‐looking (English) one, under the heading ‘care fee’.182 During the 2005 general elections campaign, the Liberal Democrats were proposing, on the strength of policies enacted in Scotland by their coalition with Labour, free personal care for the elderly and the abolition of university tuition fees. The Liberal Democrat Party, but also Labour, courted Scottish voters by promising more financial resources for the Scottish Executive to implement health care and other social policy reforms. As the small third party in the United Kingdom's party system, the Liberal Democrats have been especially keen to trumpet, in the context of United Kingdom general elections, the achievements of the party in their coalition with Labour at Holyrood. For example, the Liberal Democrats' Scottish Manifesto for 2005 stated that ‘[f]ree personal care for the elderly—delivered in Scotland, was attacked by Labour ministers in England as “crazy”—but thousands of Scottish pensioners are now benefiting from the security and dignity this policy provides’.183 It added: ‘Scotland is blazing the trail for the rest of the United Kingdom. In government in Scotland, Scottish Liberal Democrats have provided the policy backbone for the Executive's most dynamic initiatives.’184

The enactment of free, universal long‐term care for the elderly is a good example of the impact devolution has had in the politics of social policy in Scotland and perhaps in the United Kingdom at large. Although the British government has so far resisted left‐wing pressures to follow the Scottish Executive's lead in this particular case, further policy divergence might eventually put the British government in even (p.138) more uncomfortable situations than the one surrounding the adoption of the Sutherland Report north of the border. Unless new institutional reforms are enacted, however, strong fiscal heteronomy, the maintenance of income‐maintenance programmes (i.e. ‘Social Security’ ) as a ‘reserved’ matter, as well as neo‐liberal pressures and European Union‐wide initiatives and regulations will limit Scotland's capacity to create a truly distinct welfare state.185 However, with the SNP now in power, a clear political will to achieve further social policy distinctiveness could go some distance towards mitigating these barriers to divergence. For now, however, truly distinctive—and∕or controversial—programmes like universal care for the elderly remain the exception rather than the rule in Scotland, at least in the field of social policy.186


This chapter provides more ground for our six general claims about the relationship between nationalism and social policy. First, the chapter suggests that, at both the state and the sub‐state levels, social policy has been used to foster and promote competing forms of territorial solidarities and identities. In Scotland, it is only since the Thatcher era that social policy has become a major tool for the promotion of sub‐state national solidarity and the consolidation of Scottish national identity. Before then, the connection between Scottish identity and social policy was weak, in large part because Scottish nationalism was a fairly marginal movement and because Scotland lacked autonomous political institutions. At the British level, however, the development of the post‐war welfare state reinforced the presence of the central government in the life of ordinary people and created a sense of belonging related to concrete, institutionalized forms of economic solidarity and redistribution rooted in the notion of British social citizenship. The formal institutional setting of the concentration of sovereignty helps to explain why Scottish nationalism, at least in its home rule or independence‐seeking manifestations, remained weak until the 1980s: in the context of political centralization, the welfare state became a symbol of shared identity and social citizenship in the post‐war United Kingdom. The Scottish political class remained solidly wedded to the British state and, as opposed to what happened in Quebec, there was (p.139) no strong political resistance to the development of a more centralized welfare state.

Second, our claim that social policy is a central aspect of the mobilization component of sub‐state nationalism finds ground in Scottish politics during the 1980s and 1990s. Social policy became a central aspect of Scottish nationalist mobilization when Scotland's autonomy was challenged by the successive Thatcher and Major governments. Although Conservatives failed to dismantle the British welfare state, policy cutbacks and restructurings that proved especially unpopular in Scotland undermined social citizenship and the form of British national identity rooted in it. The legacy of Thatcherism in Scotland was to transform social policy into an attractive ideological focus for expressing social and political differences and legitimizing claims for institutional autonomy or, from the perspective of the SNP, outright independence. At the theoretical level, this suggests that, in order to understand the social policy claims of sub‐state nationalism, one must pay attention to the changing political interaction of national identity and social policy at the state level. Overall, as in Quebec, Scotland's political class has referred to social policy preferences as a manifestation of national distinctiveness. This logic played a major role in the nationalist campaign for devolution where the opportunity to formulate distinctive, more generous social policy became a key rationale for the creation of the Scottish Parliament. It is still central to post‐devolution politics, both in terms of formal policy outputs and the discourse around Scottish independence.

Third, the focus of Scottish nationalism on social policy is hardly the simple product of economic self‐interests. In fact, nationalist claims for autonomy and even independence in the name of distinct social policy preferences might be considered surprising in the case of Scotland which, as a region poorer than the South of England, could have much to lose from the decentralization of social policy.187 Scotland, like Quebec, is a net receiver of territorial transfers and, partially for that reason, Scottish politicians seldom criticize territorial redistribution in the United Kingdom as Flemish leaders do in Belgium. Of course, one could argue that the final drive towards home rule occurred with the knowledge that Scotland would get a generous fiscal deal from Westminster, yet the idea that devolution would make Scotland wealthier was not front and centre of the ‘yes‐yes’ campaign. On the contrary, the notion that (p.140) Scotland would suffer financially and economically with devolution was something home rule supporters needed to refute again and again. On the issue of independence, the argument could be made (as the SNP does) that Scotland taking full control of all its resources, especially oil, could offer economic benefits to the population. However, it is unclear as to whether many Scots believe that independence would bring major economic gains to Scotland.

Overall, the Scottish case substantiates our argument that nationalist claims for the political decentralization of social policy are not primarily about money and should not be understood in terms of a purely economic cost—benefit analysis. In other words, nationalist movements seeking the partial or complete decentralization of social policy cannot be reduced to financial considerations. Scottish nationalists, much like Québécois nationalists, look for decentralization despite the fact that such a move is not widely expected to result in economic gain. Clearly, the nationalist discourse of congruence between the national community (as conceptualized by the movement's leaders) and the social community strikes a chord with the population's identity and its perceived values and principles that override purely financial considerations. Stated another way, supporters of Scottish home rule during the 1990s (an impressive segment of the population, as suggested by the referendum result) did not seem to behave as rational actors looking to maximize their wealth. The same principle applies to advocates of independence during and after the campaign for a Scottish Parliament. Yet, this did not prevent Scottish politicians to tell Scots that it was in their interest to support devolution, which would help bring about better social services and more generous social programmes.

Fourth, since the Thatcher era, Scottish politics has featured claims about the existence of a national unit of solidarity where Scots have a special obligation to each other's welfare. In Scotland, it is clear that opposition to Thatcherism helped create a sense of social and political solidarity, articulated through a discourse that justified greater political autonomy, which became a powerful mobilization tool. This logic was instrumental in the push for devolution, which ultimately succeeded in 1998.

Fifth, the institutional framework of devolution increased the agenda‐setting potential of nationalism within Scotland and the United Kingdom at large. The connection between Scottishness and the ideal of social justice has meant a near‐consensus about social policy in the Scottish Parliament, with only the Scottish Conservatives consistently favouring (p.141) explicitly neo‐liberal approaches. Differently put, because the drive towards home rule was often framed in terms of Scotland's need to be able to develop progressive social policy, the nationalist quest for territorial distinctiveness has weighed heavily on the policy agenda of the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Parliament. The elimination of up‐front university tuition fees and the personal long‐term care programme for the elderly represent policy choices falling squarely into the recent trajectory of Scottish nationalism. Framed as a necessary consequence of Scottish values, these distinctive policies have not gone unnoticed south of the border, as it seems that devolution might yield a territorial agenda‐setting dynamic most often observed in federal systems.

Sixth, the Scottish case highlights the variability of the impact of sub‐state nationalism on social policy as we can now compare with our first case study of Quebec and Canada. At the broadest level, the main consequence of Scottish nationalism for the British welfare state was the creation of a Scottish Parliament and Executive in 1999. The post‐devolution institutional setting is the starting point for social policy divergence between Scotland and England. Indeed, the broad‐based nationalist movement that developed in the context of the drive towards home rule can be vindicated by the distinct social policies enacted since devolution took place in 1999. This is particularly evident in the crucial and highly symbolic field of health care where, among other things, a free long‐term care programme for the elderly was developed. Nationalist pressures to ‘do things differently’ in Scotland impacted policy outcomes, often by means of policies that are more generous, or less pro‐market, than England's. This is the tangible product of devolution, and it allows the Scottish Executive to design and implement policies in ‘devolved matters’. At the same time, there is some popular disillusionment with what the new Scottish Parliament has been able to achieve.188 This could be in part because the institutional autonomy of post‐devolution Scotland is limited, for example when compared to Quebec's situation within Canada. The most important limitation is the fiscal dependency of the Scottish Executive vis‐à‐vis the central state. Considering such heteronomy and the existence of ‘reserved matters’, Scotland's capacity to design original and distinctive social policy is constrained. Finally, there is no evidence that devolution and the mobilization of Scottish nationalism in the field of social policy have favoured an erosion of social benefits at the state or sub‐state level. (p.142) Although more limited in scope than in Quebec, the impact of sub‐state nationalism on social policy seems to have meant, at least in Scotland, more rather than less social protection.

In terms of mediating factors, the connection between Scottish nationalism and social policy was shaped primarily by a specific institutional situation—the concentration of sovereignty at Westminster—which left the administrative mechanisms underlining Scotland's historical autonomy unable to effectively prevent the implementation of some unpopular Conservative policies during the Thatcher era. In this context, Scottish political and societal leaders politicized national sentiments for the purpose of securing home rule as a way to enable Scotland to develop social policies argued to be more congruent with the values, preferences, and needs of Scots. Certainly, the structures of the British union‐state that afforded societal and administrative autonomy to Scotland are key to understanding why the idea of Scottish nationhood remained strong after almost three centuries within the United Kingdom, and why it could become a potent political factor in the 1980s.

Scotland's specific socio‐economic conditions in relation to southern England (traditionally higher unemployment and lower levels of economic development) represent an interesting variable to consider in explaining the connection between Scottish nationalism and social policy. The fact that, on average, Scots relied more heavily on the British welfare state than the population of southern England made them more likely to oppose the Thatcher government. This opposition to bold right‐wing policies, in turn, is central for understanding why Scottishness became associated with more progressive social policies. From this perspective, socio‐economic conditions help explain how claims for social policy divergence drive Scottish politics, although these have to be considered in the context of Scotland's institutional placement within the United Kingdom during the Conservative rule of the 1980s.

The emphasis on socio‐economic conditions when explaining that identity‐building and nationalist mobilization processes in Scotland involve references to distinct social policy preferences could also be articulated in ideological terms. From this point of view, Scotland's relative underdevelopment in relation to southern England would suggest left‐leaning positions on social policy. This view corresponds to the widely held notion that Scotland has always been more socialist than England.189 (p.143) This is certainly a position that can be challenged by, for example, pointing out the strength of Conservative unionism until the mid twentieth century. More significant, however, is the fact that these images of Scots‐as‐egalitarians and as collectivists do exist, and they represent powerful political references. Thus, it is hardly surprising that Scottish nationalism would emphasize leftist positions because it can juxtapose national identity with potent mobilization frames. Of course, the catalyst for this combination came from Scotland's political and institutional powerlessness to prevent the election of successive Thatcherite governments and the implementation of their explicitly neo‐liberal policies. Indeed, opposition to Thatcherism may have pushed Scottish nationalism and politics further to the left than would have been the case in a different political environment. If this is true, it would reinforce the notion that the left‐wing orientation of Scottish nationalism is anything but natural, and that changing economic and political conditions could move it elsewhere on the ideological spectrum. For example, devolution may, in the long term, reshape the ideological orientation of Scottish nationalism, and with that, its connection to social policy. Some could see a sign of such change in the SNP's growing praise of entrepreneurship and in the Scottish political class' discourse of a ‘smart successful Scotland’.190 Neo‐liberalism is obviously not absent from Scotland, and tensions exist between the nationalist left‐leaning social policy agenda and more conservative and individualist visions of welfare.191

The real test for the extent of social policy divergence driven by Scottish nationalism most likely began with the election of an SNP government in 2007. The SNP's influence on policy‐making had already been significant because it pushed other parties to support policies labelled as distinctively Scottish. Now in a formal position of power, the nationalist party can set the agenda more clearly. Months after its election, the SNP has chosen the ‘national conversation’ as a way to engage Scots in a process of reflection about their own political future that could open up social policy divergence between England and Scotland, and further weaken Scots' commitment to the Union. This prospect seems to be well understood by Westminster politicians, most notably Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who is keen to discuss and promote Britishness in Scotland. As we have (p.144) argued in this chapter, Labour, with its social policy discourse, is still well positioned to do that, especially with a Scottish leader like Gordon Brown. The prospect for both social policy and constitutional divergence would be the greatest in the case of an SNP Scottish Executive facing a Conservative government in Westminster, a scenario which, if it were to happen, could very well be a defining period for the Union and the British welfare state.


(1) A reason why the welfare state acquired great importance in fostering not only social but also national solidarity in the United Kingdom after the Second World War might be that the Empire, which had long‐represented British power and prestige, faced irremediable decline.

(2) According to Stein Rokkan and Derek Urwin, the concept of ‘union state’ entails ‘the survival in some areas of pre‐union rights and institutional infrastructures, which preserve some degree of regional autonomy and serve as agencies of indigenous elite recruitment’. The Politics of Territorial Identity: Studies in European Regionalism (1982), 11; and Economy, Territory and Identity. Politics of West European Peripheries (1983). For a discussion of this concept in the United Kingdom context see Michael Keating, The New Regionalism in Western Europe. Territorial Restructuring and Political Change (1998), 3; and James Mitchell, ‘The Evolution of Devolution: Labour's Home Rule Strategy in Opposition,’ Government and Opposition 33 (4) (1998): 479–96.

(3) Although income‐maintenance programmes constitute a ‘reserved matter’ in the United Kingdom, Scotland controls the public health insurance system, which is not the case for Flanders in Belgium (Chapter 4). From this perspective, Scotland has more institutional autonomy than Flanders in the field of social policy. This is especially true because health care is such a prominent policy area in the modern welfare state and because, in the United Kingdom, the NHS has long been a symbol of national identity.

(4) David McCrone, Understanding Scotland: The Sociology of a Nation (2001), 126.

(5) By comparison, the Flemish Movement has been involved in near‐constant territorial mobilization since the nineteenth century and virtually all Flemish parties can be considered nationalist. In Quebec, there has also been a steady process of mobilization since the 1960s Quiet Revolution and all provincial political parties are nationalist.

(6) When discussing the Scottish economy within the United Kingdom, it is overly simplistic to contrast a poor Scotland with a wealthy England since the north of England has a similar socio‐economic profile to Scotland. However, Scotland is relatively poorer than the south of England.

(7) Christopher Harvie, Scotland & Nationalism: Scottish Society and Politics 1707 to the Present (1998), 11.

(8) See, for example, McCrone, Understanding Scotland: The Sociology of a Nation, 59.

(9) For a discussion of the historiography around this event, see Michael Keating, Plurinational Democracy. Stateless Nations in a Post Sovereignty Era (2001), 37.

(10) Geoffrey Barrow, Robert Bruce and the Community of the Realm of Scotland (1988).

(11) Harvie, Scotland & Nationalism, 12.

(12) Ibid.

(13) Neil Davidson, The Origins of Scottish Nationhood (2000), 62–72.

(14) Ibid., 54–61.

(15) See Stephen Tierney, ‘The Constitutional Accommodation of National Minorities in the UK and Canada: Judicial Approaches to Diversity’ (2003), 192–3.

(16) Keating, Plurinational Democracy, 37.

(17) Michael Keating, Nations against the State. The New Politics of Nationalism in Quebec, Catalonia and Scotland (1996), 166.

(18) Lindsay Paterson, The Autonomy of Modern Scotland (1994), 38.

(19) Keating, Nations against the State, 166

(20) Eugen Weber, Peasants into Frenchmen. The Modernization of Rural France, 1870–1914 (1976).

(21) David McCrone, The Sociology of Nationalism (1998), 47.

(22) On the Scottish myth, see McCrone, Understanding Scotland, 93–100.

(23) While we believe Scottish societal autonomy after 1707 to have been real and meaningful, we are not marginalizing the integrative effect of the Union.

(24) Iain G. C. Hutchison, ‘Legislative and Executive Autonomy in Modern Scotland’ (2000), 133–42.

(25) Paterson, The Autonomy of Modern Scotland, 51.

(26) Ibid.

(27) Ibid., 52.

(28) Higginbotham, The Workhouse in Scotland (2005).

(29) Iain G. C. Hutchison, ‘Government’ (1996), 47.

(30) Paterson, The Autonomy of Modern Scotland, 51.

(31) Hutchison, ‘Government,’ 47.

(32) Ibid., 49.

(33) Ibid.

(34) James Mitchell, Governing Scotland: The Invention of Administrative Devolution (2003), 208.

(35) Davidson, The Origins of Scottish Nationhood, 53.

(36) Keating, Nations Against the State, 164.

(37) See Irene Maver, ‘The Catholic Community,’ 269–84.

(38) Neal Ascherson, Games with Shadows (1988), 148.

(39) Arthur Aughey, Nationalism, Devolution and the Challenge to the United Kingdom State (2001), 27.

(40) Arthur Midwinter, Michael Keating, and James Mitchell, Politics and Public Policy in Scotland (1991), 78.

(41) This claim was most forcefully made by James G. Kellas, The Scottish Political System (1973).

(42) Harvie, Scotland and Nationalism, 15–18. A splinter group left the Liberals over the government's decision to accept home rule for Ireland to form the Liberal Unionist Party, which was eventually absorbed by the Conservative Party.

(43) Aughey, Nationalism, Devolution and the Challenge to the United Kingdom State, 68.

(44) On Scotland and the Labour Party, see Ian Donnachie, Christopher Harvie, and Ian S. Wood, Forward¡ Labour Politics in Scotland 1888–1988 (1989).

(45) Alice Brown, David McCrone, and Lindsay Paterson (eds.), Politics and Society in Scotland (1996), 39.

(46) Linda Colley, Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707–1837 (1992).

(47) G. C. Peden, British Economic and Social Policy: Lloyd to Margaret Thatcher (1991), 26. On the intellectual roots of these reforms, see Michael Freeden, The New Liberalism: An Ideology of Social Reform (1978).

(48) Peden, British Economic and Social Policy.

(49) José Harris, ‘Some Aspects of Social Policy in Britain during the Second World War’ (1981), 247–62.

(50) Michael Hill, The Welfare State in Britain: A Political History since 1945 (1993), 25.

(51) Howard Glennerster, British Social Policy since 1945 (2000), 36.

(52) Gordon Brown, Speech to the Edinburgh City Chambers (1 December 1999), quoted in Gerry Mooney and Charlotte Williams, ‘Forging New “Ways of Life”? Social Policy and Nation Building in Devolved Scotland and Wales,’ Critical Social Policy 26 (2006): 608–29.

(53) Glennerster, British Social Policy since 1945. See also Hill, The Welfare State in Britain; and Rodney Lowe, The Welfare State in Britain since 1945 (1993).

(54) Nicola McEwen, ‘State Welfare Nationalism: The Territorial Impact of Welfare State Development in Scotland,’ Regional and Federal Studies 12 (2002): 66–90.

(55) Lynn Bennie, Jack Brand, and James Mitchell, How Scotland Votes (1997).

(56) T. H. Marshall, Citizenship and Social Class (1987 [1950]). According to Daniel Wincott, however, the work of T. H. Marshall is misunderstood because it treats England rather than Britain or the United Kingdom ‘as the relevant “nation”’. Daniel Wincott, ‘Social Policy and Social Citizenship: Britain's Welfare States,’ Publius: The Journal of Federalism 36, 1 (2006): 169–88.

(57) McCrone, Understanding Scotland, 15.

(58) Hutchison, ‘Government,’ 47.

(59) On the status of the Labour Party in Scotland during the post‐war era, see Bob McLean, ‘Labour in Scotland since 1945: Myth and Reality’ (2004), 35–50.

(60) Wincott, ‘Social Policy and Social Citizenship: Britain's Welfare States,’ 171.

(61) McEwen, ‘State Welfare Nationalism,’ 71.

(62) For more details about the administrative duties of the post‐war Scottish Office, see Ian Levitt, The Scottish Office: Depression and Reconstruction 1919–1959 (1992).

(63) Michael Keating and Arthur Midwinter, The Government of Scotland (1983), 24.

(64) McEwen, ‘State Welfare Nationalism,’ 71.

(65) Brian Jones and Michael Keating, Labour and the British State (1985), 127.

(66) Richard J. Finlay, ‘Continuity and Change: Scottish Politics 1900–45,’ 70; Brown, McCrone, and Paterson (eds.), Politics and Society in Scotland, 17.

(67) Keating, Nations against the State, 170.

(68) Christopher Harvie and Peter Jones, The Road to Home Rule: Images of Scotland's Cause (2000), 23–4.

(69) Brown, McCrone, and Paterson (eds.), Politics and Society in Scotland, 16.

(70) Ibid., 17.

(71) Peter Lynch, SNP. The History of the Scottish National Party (2002), 38–9.

(72) Ibid., 47.

(73) There were special circumstances to the 1945 by‐elections. They were contested only by Labour and the SNP, as the Liberals and the Scottish Unionists (Conservative) did not field candidates. Moreover, the SNP candidate lost in the general election during the same year. On the 1945 by‐election and the growth of the 1960s, see Lynch, SNP. The History of the Scottish National Party, 61, 123–60.

(74) Ibid., 132–5.

(75) McCrone, Understanding Scotland, 105–6.

(76) Bennie, Brand, and Mitchell, How Scotland Votes, 49.

(77) Michael Keating and David Bleiman, Labour and Scottish Nationalism (1979), 154.

(78) Ibid., 150–1.

(79) Ibid., 174.

(80) Harvie and Jones, The Road to Home Rule, 112.

(81) See the Scottish Trade Union Congress excerpt of the 1974 annual report published in Lindsay Paterson, A Diverse Assembly. The Debate on a Scottish Parliament (1998), 79–82.

(82) The referendum's rules stipulated that devolution would occur only if more than 40% of the total electorate supported the idea of a Scottish Parliament.

(83) Stuart Hall, ‘The Great Moving Right Show,’ (1983), 19–39.

(84) Bob Jessop et al., Thatcherism: A Tale of Two Nations (1988), 87.

(85) Paul Pierson, Dismantling the Welfare State? Reagan, Thatcher, and the Politics of Retrenchment (1994), 75–6.

(86) Ray Forrest and Alan Murie, Selling the Welfare State: The Privatization of Public Housing (1988).

(87) Paul Johnson and Sarah Tanner, ‘Ownership and the Distribution of Wealth,’ Political Quarterly 69, 4 (1998): 365–74.

(88) Pierson, Dismantling the Welfare State?

(89) Giuliano Bonoli, The Politics of Pension Reform: Institutions and Policy Change in Western Europe (2000), 80.

(90) Scott L. Greer, Territorial Politics and Health Policy: UK Health Policy in Comparative Perspective (2004), 34–44.

(91) Only Northern Ireland did not implement that measure.

(92) Richard J. Finlay, Modern Scotland 1914–2000 (2004), 366.

(93) Ibid. Facing a revolt within her caucus, Margaret Thatcher resigned in November 1990.

(94) Gordon Brown and Douglas Alexander, New Scotland, New Britain (1999), 10.

(95) McCrone, Understanding Scotland, 108.

(96) Earl A. Reitan, The Thatcher Revolution: Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, and the Transformation of Modern Britain, 1979–2001 (2003), 151.

(97) Iain G. C. Hutchison, Scottish Politics in the Twentieth Century (2001), 148.

(98) Ibid., 122.

(99) Scott L. Greer, Nationalism and Self‐Government: The Politics of Autonomy in Scotland and Catalonia (2007), 76.

(100) She often seemed puzzled about this lack of enthusiasm in Scotland for her philosophy. See Margaret Thatcher, The Downing Street Years (1993), 618.

(101) See Tom Devine and Paddy Logue, Being Scottish (2002), 95.

(102) Reitan, The Thatcher Revolution, 151.

(103) McEwen, ‘State Welfare Nationalism,’ 76.

(104) Lynch, SNP: The History of the Scottish National Party, 175.

(105) Ibid.

(106) Harvie and Jones, The Road to Home Rule, 148.

(107) Interview with a top STUC official, Glasgow, 5 May 2005. On the STUC's opposition to Thatcherism, see Keith Aitken, The Bairns O'Adam: The Story of the STUC (1997), 260–310.

(108) See excerpts of the document in Paterson, A Diverse Assembly, 160–8.

(109) Scottish Constitutional Convention, Scotland's Parliament: Scotland's Right (1995), 7.

(110) Ibid., 13–14.

(111) Doctors for Devolution, ‘Making the case for devolution of health care to Scotland,’ Campaign for a Scottish Parliament, Briefing note 17.

(112) Ibid. Bolding is in the original.

(113) Political Context, Report on Devolution Poll, 1996, 15.

(114) Ibid.

(115) Ibid., 13.

(116) Viscount Weir, Donald MacKay, and Allan Stewart, Scottish Assembly: We're Better off Without It (undated).

(117) Mooney and Williams, ‘Forging New “Ways of Life”?’

(118) Scotland Forward, Winning Scotland's Parliament, Final Report, March 1998, 16.

(119) Michael Keating, The Government of Scotland (2004), 21.

(120) The Scottish Parliament, How the Scottish Parliament Works (undated), 3.

(121) It is important to note that, historically, this self‐perception is probably grounded more in a form of traditionalism than in leftist ideologies.

(122) Devine and Logue, Being Scottish, 208.

(123) Christopher Harvie, ‘Where Tectonic Plates Collide,’ New Statesman Scotland, 13 September 1999, 32–3.

(124) Scott L. Greer and Holly Jarman, ‘Policy Styles and Devolution’ (2007).

(125) The Scottish Senior Citizens' Unity Party (SSCUP) secured one seat in the 2003 elections.

(126) Scottish Labour, Manifesto 2003, 1. This opening message also emphasizes the support of government for ‘business with ambitions’ and ‘those suffering at the hands of thugs and drug dealers’.

(127) Scottish National Party, Manifesto 2005, 7.

(128) Ibid.

(129) Denis Saint‐Martin and Alexandra Dobrowolsky, ‘Social Learning, Third Way Politics, and Welfare State Redesign’ (2005), 245–75.

(130) For conservative and liberal‐democratic voters, support for the exclusive Scottish identity was 10% and 13%, respectively. The other categories on offer were ‘more Scottish than British’, ‘equally Scottish and British’, ‘more British than Scottish’, and ‘British, not Scottish’. See McCrone, Understanding Scotland, 163.

(131) For Conservative's, this exclusive identity gathered 10% support, and for the Liberal‐Democrats, 5%. See Jack Brand, James Mitchell, and Paula Surridge, ‘Social Constituency and Ideological Profile: Scottish Nationalism in the 1990s,’ Political Studies 42 (1994): 624.

(132) See the 2005 Scottish Liberal Democrats’ Manifesto, The Real Alternative, 4–7.

(133) Scottish Green Party, 2003 Scottish Manifesto, 8.

(134) See Scottish Socialist Party, Manifesto for Scottish Parliamentary Election 2003, 1, 2, and 6.

(135) Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party, 2003 Manifesto.

(136) See the introduction by Scottish Conservative leader David McLetchie. Ibid.

(137) Scottish National Party, Manifesto 2005, 21.

(138) These data are compiled in Keating, The Government of Scotland, 33.

(139) See Lindsay Paterson, ‘Governing from the Centre: Ideology and Public Policy’ (2002), 207.

(140) Ibid., 204.

(141) See Michael Rosie and Ross Bond, ‘Social Democratic Scotland?’ (2007), 41–7.

(142) Ibid, 46–7.

(143) Ibid, 51.

(144) Ibid, 52.

(145) Scottish National Party, ‘Why Independence.’

(146) Scottish National Party, Manifesto 2005, 8. In the case of the SSP, the connection between independence and progressive social policy is even clearer and more front and centre. As its 2003 Manifesto stated: ‘Here in Scotland, we stand for an independent socialist republic that can become an international symbol of fairness and justice, a Scotland that will resist and defy the fatcats and warlords. We live in a country that is scarred by poverty, low pay, decaying public services, sub‐standard housing, ill health, crime, alcohol and drug abuse. Yet we have a skilled, educated workforce and natural resources in abundance. This glaring contradiction between potential and the reality has one simple explanation: the people of Scotland have no real control over the resources of this country.’ Scottish Socialist Party, Manifesto for Scottish Parliamentary Election 2003, 2.

(147) Scottish Executive, Choosing Scotland's Future. A National Conversation, Edinburgh, 2007.

(148) Scottish Executive, Choosing Scotland's Future. A National Conversation, 12–14.

(149) See, for example, Jackie Ashley, ‘Some guys have all the cash,’ New Statesman, 16 April 2001.

(150) Gerry Mooney and Lynne Poole, ‘ “A Land of Milk and Honey? ” Social Policy in Scotland after Devolution,’ Critical Social Policy 24 (2004): 458–83. For a set of critical, left‐wing perspectives on post‐devolution social policy in Scotland, see Gerry Mooney and Lynne Poole (eds.), Exploring Social Policy in the ‘New’ Scotland (2005).

(151) Arthur Midwinter, ‘The Politics of Devolution Finance’ (2000), 233–48. The benefits for Scotland of this financial arrangement stems from a failure to adjust for demographic change as well as from the political imperative of countering nationalist forces.

(152) Greer, Territorial Politics and Health Policy, 72.

(153) Richard Parry, ‘Delivery Structures and Policy Development in Post‐Devolution Scotland,’ Social Policy & Society, 1, 4 (2002): 315–24.

(154) Daniel Béland, ‘The Social Exclusion Discourse: Ideas and Policy Change,’ Policy & Politics 35, 1 (2007): 123–39.

(155) For a critical analysis of the idea of workfare related to activation policies, see Desmond King, In The Name of Liberalism: Illiberal Social Policy in the United States and Britain (1999).

(156) Keating, The Government of Scotland, 197.

(157) Quoted in Helen Fawcett, ‘The Making of Social Justice Policy in Scotland: Devolution and Social Exclusion’ (2004), 241.

(158) Ibid., 243.

(159) Ibid., 245.

(160) According to Gill Scott, limited funding largely explains these mixed results: ‘Active Labour Market Policy and the Reduction of Poverty in the “New” Scotland,’ Critical Social Policy 26, 3: 669–84.

(161) Fawcett, ‘The Making of Social Justice Policy in Scotland,’ 245.

(162) Scottish Executive, Memorandum of Understanding: The Scottish Executive and the STUC Working Together, Edinburgh, 2002.

(163) Interview with a top STUC official, Glasgow, 5 May 2005.

(164) On this general issue, see Richard Hefferman, New Labour and Thatcherism (2000).

(165) Interview with a top civil servant of the Scottish Office (Ministry of Health and Community Care), Edinburgh, 4 May 2005.

(166) The following paragraph draws extensively on Scott Greer's discussion about the Scottish health care reform after devolution: Territorial Politics and Health Policy, 78–91.

(167) Ibid.

(168) Ibid.

(169) Scottish Executive, Partnership for Care: Scotland's Health White Paper (2003). See also Greer, Territorial Politics and Health Policy, 81–2.

(170) Interview with a top civil servant of the Scottish Office (Ministry of Health and Community Care), Edinburgh, 4 May 2005.

(171) Greer, Territorial Politics and Health Policy, 83–4.

(172) BBC News, ‘Smoking Ban Law Approved by MSPs,’ BBC News Online, 30 June 2005.

(173) On new social risks, see Peter Taylor‐Gooby (ed.), New Risks, New Welfare: The Transformation of the European Welfare State (2005).

(174) For an excellent description and analysis of this programme see Rachel Simeon, ‘Free Personal Care: Policy Divergence and Social Citizenship’ (2003), 215–33.

(175) Sir Stewart Sutherland, With Respect to Old Age: Long Term Care—Rights and Responsibilities: A Report by the Royal Commission on Long Term Care (1999).

(176) Interview with a Liberal‐Democrat MSP, Edinburgh, April 2005.

(177) BBC News, ‘Scorn over Quango Crackdown,’ BBC News Online, 14 November 2000.

(178) Tom Brown, ‘The S‐word Returns to Scotland,’ New Statesman, 5 February 2001.

(179) Greer, Territorial Politics and Health Policy, 88–9.

(180) Kevin J. Woods, ‘Health Policy and the NHS in the UK, 1997–2002,’ (2002), 25–59).

(181) Fraser Nelson and James Kirkup, ‘Scottish NHS to get system of “tariffs”,’ The Scotsman, 26 April 2005, 2.

(182) Daniel Béland and André Lecours, ‘The Politics of Territorial Solidarity: Nationalism and Social Policy Reform in Canada, the United Kingdom, and Belgium,’ Comparative Political Studies 38 (2005): 676–703.

(183) See the statement by Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Jim Wallace in the Scottish Liberal Democrats’ Manifesto, The Real Alternative, 1.

(184) Ibid.

(185) Mooney and Poole, ‘A Land of Milk and Honey?’

(186) Interview with a top civil servant of the Scottish Office (Ministry of Health and Community Care), Edinburgh, 4 May 2005.

(187) The wealth of Scotland relative to England is a tricky question because of at least two issues. The first is that England is highly differentiated with respect to economic development. The second is how oil should be factored into the assessment of Scotland's wealth.

(188) For example, BBC News, ‘ “Frustration” Felt over Devolution,’ BBC News Online, 11 August 2002.

(189) Brown, ‘The S‐word Returns to Scotland.’

(190) Nicola McEwen, ‘Welfare Solidarity in a Devolved Scotland,’ Paper presented to the European Consortium for Political Research, Workshop, The Welfare‐State and Territorial Politics, Edinburgh, 28 March–2 April 2003.

(191) Mooney and Williams, ‘Forging New “Ways of Life”?’