Challenging the Consensus — Scotland and the New Conservatism
Consensus and accommodation have been the distinguishing characteristics of Scottish territorial management for much of this century. As elsewhere in Britain, pronounced partisan conflict has coexisted with an acceptance of parliamentary sovereignty and a recognition of government’s right to govern. The starkness of partisan debate, however, masked a broad similarity of policy approaches between Conservative and Labour Governments. These included full employment, acceptance of the role of trade unions, public ownership of basic services, state provision of social welfare requiring high levels of public expenditure and taxation, and a degree of state management of the economy (Kavanagh, 1987). Within the broad consensus on both political procedures and substantive policies, it was possible to accommodate Scottish particularism through the mechanisms of territorial management and accommodation which we have described. Distinct Scottish institutions were retained to deliver UK policies, Scotland was favoured in the distribution of public expenditure and minor policies changes could be made at the discretion of the Scottish Office.
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