The Scottish Question and the Future of Politics
Why look at Scotland? In nations which do not have independent legislatures, it is easy to assume that they do not have ‘politics’. Scotland does not figure in conventional textbooks on British politics, which assume the homogeneity of the British state, or, at best, add a chapter on Scotland or ‘the Celtic fringe’. Hence one immediate purpose of this book has been to tell Scotland’s political story to redress the balance. When we do so, we find a narrative which connects with many of the key events and processes of British politics, but we cannot take for granted that these are the dominant ones, or that they have the same meaning and significance. In party political terms we have seen how, although the names of the parties are by and large the same, their histories, how they operate, their understandings and frameworks have been quite different. To take one example, we cannot explain the decline of the Conservative Party in Scotland simply with reference to social structural differences between Scotland and England. After all, many of the English regions have economic and social structures which are very similar to Scotland’s, and yet their politics are different. Similarly, as we showed in Chapter 7, the Conservatives do badly among all social classes in Scotland, and have done for at least 20 years.
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