After the Declaration of Perth: All Change!

James G. Kellas

in Anglo-Scottish Relations, from 1900 to Devolution and Beyond

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263310
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734144 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

After the Declaration of Perth: All Change!

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This chapter talks about the leading Scottish National Party (SNP) politicians and how they talk of ‘a British society in conjunction with a Scottish state’. It also reports that it is ‘difficult to imagine an independent Scotland pursuing an anti-English policy’. There is no clear conflict between Scotland and England. Rather, the shifting conflicts mostly appear within the British parties (and between these and the SNP). The unionists as Scottish nationalists and the nationalists as unionists are explored. Conservatives saw the Scottish Office as a bulwark against nationalism and devolution. The Liberal Democrats changed stance on two counts. They had long supported federalism, but settled for devolution when that was offered by Labour in the late 1970s. Socialism and nationalism were combined in the service of the Scottish Labour Party. The changes and paradoxes in Scottish politics are elaborated. Two methods of explanation are apparent. The first is structural, the second ideological. It looks as if the structural analysis carries more weight than the ideological one. Independence is more problematic than devolution. The democratic ideology of the late twentieth century legitimised the sovereignty of the voting public, and with it the right of national self-determination.

Keywords: British society; Scotland; Scottish Labour Party; Scottish nationalists; unionists; Liberal Democrats; socialism; nationalism; Scottish politics; democratic ideology

Chapter.  4207 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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