New Unions for Old

Neil MacCormick

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

New Unions for Old

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter recommends a reversion from the 1707 Union of Parliaments to the 1603 Union of Crowns (though not of governments). Its argument is originally submitted to the joint attention of the Royal Society and the British Academy on a date very close to 5 November 2003. James succeeded in preserving peace in the islands during his long reign — long in England itself, longer yet in Scotland. In Westminster as well as Edinburgh and elsewhere, real power has come to be invested in parliaments, and thus in the governments that command parliamentary majorities through the dominance of political parties. The UK system works so long as party ties make more or less unquestioned the loyalty of the head of a devolved Scottish government to the head of the United Kingdom government. Generally, the present contribution is offered primarily as a scholarly, not a political one. It is enough if it has sketched grounds for taking seriously the question what ‘new unions for old’ might mean.

Keywords: 1707 Union of Parliaments; Union of Crowns; UK system; Scottish government; United Kingdom government; Royal Society; British Academy

Chapter.  3317 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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