Definition• It involves the delegation or decentralisation of power. It is the term employed to describe the transfer of power in the UK downwards from central government to Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland and perhaps ultimately the English regions. (Coxall:289)
A pressured state• Pressure from above and below: – British sovereignty is threatened by the growth of the European superstate – Britain could disintegrate into smaller component parts.
The Rise of Celtic Nationalisms• 1960s/1970s: Rise of Scottish nationalism• 1980s: Thatcher Govt – unintentionally spurred Scottish nationalism(Miner’s strike and the dismantling of the coal industry)
New Labour and Devolution• Scotland Act 1998, Wales Act 1998• Legislative devolution in Scotland• Executive/administrative devolution in Wales• Diceyian doctrine upheld – White Paper, Scotland’s Parliament: • ‘The UK Parliament is and will remain sovereign in all matters’
New Labour and Devolution: Referendums in Scotland & Wales 1997Devolution Scotland WalesYES 74.3% 50.3%NO 25.7% 49.7%Taxation (Scotland only)YES 63.5% -NO 36.5% -TURNOUT 60.2% 50.1%
Devolution & Policy Areas Scottish Parliament Westminster Parliament• Health • International treaties (incl. EU)• Education • Defence• Agriculture & fisheries • Immigration• Economic development • Macroeconomic policy & currency• Environment • Overseas trade• Civil law • Energy• Criminal justice • Employment• Tourism • Social security• Road/passenger transport • Air/rail transport• Arts & sport • Abortion
Northern Ireland – War & Peace• 1921-72: Devolved Govt in NI: Unionist domination• 1969-98: The Troubles• 1970s & 1980s: Failed political initiatives• 1994-96: IRA cease-fire• 1997: Labour Govt: talks with Sinn Fein• 1998: Good Friday Agreement• 2010: New agreement to be signed
Good Friday Agreement• Power-sharing institutions Power-sharing in NI• Decommissioning of • First and Dep. First terrorist arms Ministers (DUP & SF)• Police reform • Executive: grand coalition• Regulation of marches – 10 members: 4 DUP + 2 UUP + 3 SF + 1 SDLP• Release of paramilitary prisoners • 108-seat assembly (PR) – Special majorities• Principle of consent – NI remains in UK but able to • North-South Ministerial have a future referendum to Council (NI-ROI) join Republic of Ireland • Council of the Isles
Good Friday Referendums 1998Agree to Northern Republic ofGFA? Ireland IrelandYES 71.1% 94.4%NO 28.9% 5.6%TURNOUT 81.1% 56.3%NB: Referendum in ROI included proposal to amend Irish Constitution
The English in devolution• Is being English anything different from being British?• The use of the flag with the cross of St. George• There is no English Parliament
The aftermaths of devolution• The 2003 election results in Scotland and Wales were marked by the sense that devolution in practice has so far made little difference.• Devolution has led to substantial policy innovation in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and opened up real alternatives to policies decided at Westminster• The government of England and the English regions has become more complex since devolution to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
• Devolution is the most popular constitutional preference in Scotland and Wales, and even in Northern Ireland, despite the marked polarisation of views around the Unionist- Nationalist divide that was confirmed when Ian Paisley’s Democratic Unionists and Sinn Féin made significant gains in the 2003 Northern Ireland election.
Sources• Coxall, Bill: Contemporary British Politics:Great Britain 2003• Dr. Quinn, Tom: lecture 5: University of Essex 2008• ESRC: Devolution-What Difference Has it Made?: Great Britain2008