Intergovernmental Relations in Scotland: what was the SNP effect?



Cairney P (2012) Intergovernmental Relations in Scotland: what was the SNP effect?. British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 14 (2), pp. 231-249.

In Scotland, the formation of a minority government in 2007 by the Scottish National Party (SNP) provided the potential for profound changes in intergovernmental relations. This followed eight years of a Scottish Labour-led coalition government characterised by a low-key and informal relationship with the UK Labour government. From 1999 to 2007, discussions were conducted informally and almost entirely through political parties and executives (ministers and civil servants). Although formal mechanisms for negotiation and dispute resolution existed-including the courts, concordats and Joint Ministerial Committees-they were used rarely. The Scottish Executive also played a minimal role in EU policy-making. Yet, an ‘explosive' new era of relations between the Scottish and UK governments did not arrive in tandem with the new era of party incongruence. The aim of this article is to explore these issues by asking two main questions: why were formal mechanisms used so rarely from 1999 to 2007, and what factors produced muted rather than problematic IGR in the third parliamentary session, between 2007 and 2011?

intergovernmental relations; policy communities; Scotland; minority government

British Journal of Politics and International Relations: Volume 14, Issue 2

Publication date31/05/2012
PublisherWiley-Blackwell for Political Studies Association

People (1)


Professor Paul Cairney

Professor Paul Cairney

Professor, Politics