A group of top political scientists from around Scotland has produced a series of essays for a forthcoming special issue of The Political Quarterly. They consider where next for Scotland on the back of last year’s independence referendum and the subsequent proposals for extending devolution that came out of the Smith Commission.
The Scottish independence referendum was held on the 18th September 2014. With a voter turnout of 85%, 55% voted No to the question ‘Should Scotland be an independent country?’ Yet, the result did not settle the matter once and for all. Instead, attention has moved quickly to the report of ‘Smith Commission’, formed to produce a plan to introduce ‘extensive new powers’ for the Scottish Government, and the outcome of the UK General election, which will determine which parties will have the greatest say in its implementation.
The special issue examines the key issues that arose during and after the referendum. It suggests that the Scottish experience, of designing and debating referendums, provides a model for a large number of comparable countries. What some describe as a parochial debate has taken on international importance. It also discusses a series of perhaps counterintuitive arguments: the links between the UK and Scottish Governments could become stronger as greater devolution produces more shared responsibilities; constitutional reform did not go hand in hand with reforms to strengthen the Scottish Parliament or other political reforms; Scotland is generally less left-wing than many of the debates suggested; and, devolution does not lead to inevitable differences in Scottish policy.