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Keywords:

  • Scotland;
  • nationalism;
  • SNP;
  • British state

The election of the Scottish National party as a majority government in 2011 is as challenging to the British state as it was unexpected. While explanations for SNP success focused on Labour's faulty campaign and poor leadership, the last half-century has seen the rise and rise of the nationalist agenda in Scotland. Scotland's politics are now more different from England's than at any time since the 1950s. The Scottish parliament is the effect of that change rather than its cause, while party competition between Labour and the SNP north of the border has shifted political gravity centre-left in contrast with England. It is not inevitable, however, that Scots would vote for Independence in a referendum. Nevertheless, Scotland is a more semi-detached country than at any point in the history of the Union, and the future of the British state, at least in its present form, cannot be taken for granted.