A good site, better

Published: 3 December 2014

As Scotland and the UK come to terms with the events of the night of 18 September, the focus of this site will adapt to the new questions posed by the constitutional chain reaction sparked by the referendum. In addition to publishing research on Scottish devolution in the wake of the Smith Commission, we’ll introduce new voices, from academia and beyond, and consider new issues as England, Wales and Northern Ireland review their own constitutional settlements. Just as many in the rest of the world are watching how those changes will be manifest in the UK, we’ll hear international perspectives on how others are answering these questions. In addition we will consider how these discussions impact on the evolution of the European project.

That ongoing process, of considering what a democracy should look like a decade and a half into the 21st century is as exhilarating and intoxicating for researchers as it is for anyone else. Seeing ideas made flesh and theories taken from the seminar room into popular discussion and political debate is an exercise in democratic scholarship that is as demanding as it is bewitching.

The primary purpose of this site, and the publications, open meetings and social media that surround it, remains to take the unparalleled research of some of the leading scholars in the field and place it firmly in the hands of the public. Such an endeavour would be impossible without an audience interested in evidence rather than speculation, meticulous analysis rather than jaundiced opinion. That over 135,000 people used this site in the build-up to the referendum, that tens of thousands downloaded our ebook Scotland’s Decision, that our events have been packed and our briefings widely circulated is testament to an informed electorate that appreciates nuance and complexity. We believe that will continue to be the case throughout Scotland, the UK and the EU.

We have been both invigorated and delighted that so many people have said they found our output useful in reaching a decision in September. It is simultaneously rewarding and humbling to have been of use in such a way.

This evolving process is already playing out in Scotland with the report of – and response to – the Smith Commission. Elsewhere, the ramifications of increased powers for Holyrood are being felt in London, Cardiff and Belfast – against a backdrop of the debate about the future of the UK in the EU. What we do now - the decisions that we make about the intersection of democracy and modernity - is being watched, outside the UK, by others considering their own relationships with the nation and the state. Increasingly our output will reflect that fact.

We aim to continue to be useful in these discussions and have taken this opportunity to refocus how we communicate our research. The content of the site will include contributions from fellows of the ESRC Centre on Constitutional Change but we’ll also act as a focus for discussion from across the UK and internationally on issues relating to the field.

We’ll provide a platform for academics and other contributors with insights into the changing face of the UK’s constitutional arrangements.

Finally, we’ve moved a few things around, which, hopefully, you’ll either not notice or find helpful if you do. All of the content from the CCC and the other teams involved in the build-up to the referendum will remain on the site and we’ll continue to link to the work of other centres and teams when their work overlaps with ours. If you have any questions or would like to let us know what you think, please feel free to get in touch: info@futureukandscotland.ac.uk.