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Devolution in Scotland & Wales Crashing toward constitutional change?

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Presentation on theme: "Devolution in Scotland & Wales Crashing toward constitutional change?"— Presentation transcript:

1 Devolution in Scotland & Wales Crashing toward constitutional change?

2 Explaining devolution How important was the impact of Thatcherism? the changing value of Union? party politics & the party battle?

3 The party battle 1979 as turning point: Labour out, Conservatives in Labour reduced to core support. Wins seats in  North (of England)  Scotland  Wales Thatcher wins 3 successive elections, Major 1 more Regaining power requires  not only revamping the party & reassuring electorate,  But also responding to change,  As well as demands of key constituencies

4 Scotland Less content with previous quid pro quos, accommodations granted: Empire wound down Welfare state under siege Offshore oil & EU offer new opportunities

5 1980s: Multiple developments: Thatcherism far less popular in Scotland than England Poll tax (1990)  Switch from ‘rates’, paid only by owner-occupiers to poll tax implemented first in Scotland  Resisted Scots begin to take matters into their own hands

6 Scottish Constitutional Convention Who  Scottish Labour +  Scottish Liberals  SNP refuses to participate Formulates plans for devolution Doing so, poses significant intellectual & political challenge

7 New Labour forced to respond: Need Scottish seats Need to show that New Labour is different ‘Insurance policy’ – support sought from Liberals lest they lack a majority Back in gov’t, New Labour has to deliver Important segments of the party committed to change

8 Result Scotland offered more extensive devolution than before: ‘Package’ resembles previous devolution to Northern Ireland  Enumerate competences of Westminster rather than Scottish Parliament  Remainder to Scottish Parliament Two questions in 1998 referenda  Do you want a Scottish Parliament?  Should it have tax varying powers?

9 Outcome Both carried Scottish Parliament established with power to pass primary legislation Scottish government & Scottish first minister assume the powers of the Scottish Office In Wales, referendum on Welsh Assembly with power to pass secondary legislation carried

10 Broader constitutional agenda Blair government moves on broader constitutional agenda: Reform House of Lords London Assembly  Restored but with less competence than Great London Council Creation of a separate Supreme Court Changing role for Lord Chancellor Northern Ireland question doesn’t go away

11 Devolution changes shape of UK: Scottish Parliament meant to be different than Westminster:  Elected by PR  Intended to be non-adversarial Welsh Assembly also elected by PR UK is not federal, but is it still a unitary system?  In some senses, yes  In others, no

12 Multiple centres of power Until recently, Labour control in London, Edinburgh & Cardiff minimizes differences From 2007, SNP minority govt in Scotland What happens if (when) Conservatives come back to power in London

13 But how much change? Parliament is still sovereign Devolution to Scotland & Wales could be reversed Dogs that did not bark in the night: ‘English question’ unresolved:  As yet, no devolution to regions Incomplete reform of Lords PR not introduced for general (national) elections No written constitution or UK charter of rights

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