The new context of coalition government and the ‘Big Society’ suggests that the UK government is moving towards a style of politics followed successfully in Scotland, extending a partnership approach from national to local forms of government. Yet the two arenas have never been as far apart as is commonly imagined. The majoritarian (UK) and consensus (Scottish) labels are misleading. British politics is not as exceptional as it is often made out to be, while Scottish politics retains many elements of its British counterpart. This article assesses the state of British politics in this light. It sets out a counter-exceptionalism thesis based on the theory and evidence from public policy. It then summarises the post-devolution evidence, producing insights on the British policy style when compared to the ‘new politics’ in Scotland.