Does Scottish politics exist? This might seem an odd question to ask in the light of the narrative outlined in the last chapter. Scotland’s political story since the Union of 1707 seems to be lively and distinctive, and in no need of justification. And yet the conventional conceptual tools for making sense of that story seem inappropriate. How are we to make sense of Scotland? In conventional terms, it does not seem to have a ‘politics’ because Scotland is not a nationstate, and much of political analysis is premised on a high degree of self-containedness of the state. Most of the time Scotland and its politics have been treated as an adjunct to those of Britain, and we do not ask whether British politics exists. At best, the conventional wisdom goes, Scotland is ‘British with a difference’ (McAllister and Rose, 1984). Similarly, critics ask, how can Scotland have a political system when it does not have an independent legislature (Midwinter, et al., 1991)?
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