The Constitutional Future of Scotland and the United Kingdom

Lead Research Organisation: University of Aberdeen
Department Name: School of Social Science

Abstract

This programme of research will examine the options for Scottish constitutional change, including independence, and their implications for the future of the UK and Scotland. It will provide evidence to help inform voter understanding of the key issues ahead of the independence referendum to be held in September 2014, and of the significance and consequences of the referendum result. In the longer term, it will develop a research centre involving academics from political science, economics and law to strengthen the capacity for the generation of new knowledge on the social, economic and political challenges associated with constitutional change.

The proposal builds upon existing research, including some investments already supported by the ESRC Future of the UK and Scotland. It includes two projects within each of the four themes of the programme - relations beyond Scotland, the economy, governance, and future Scotland. Research on citizen and elite behaviour cuts across each of these themes. The projects all address consequences of rescaling, that is, the migration of economic, social and political systems to new levels, which are connected in complex ways. Whatever the outcome of the referendum, Scotland's constitutional future will develop within a series of overarching 'unions' within the British Isles, the European Union and beyond. These will place some constraints on what a Scottish - and UK - government could do under all constitutional scenarios.

The research employs legal analysis, political and policy analysis, economic modeling and behavioural analysis to explore the implications of different constitutional options. Each project includes collaboration between scholars from different disciplines. There are surveys of citizena and business leaders survey to ascertain responses to situations of partial knowledge, risk and uncertainty, and their ranking of preferences. The use of comparison also runs through the projects. Analysis of the future of Scotland in the UK provides case study of the broader transformations of the state in modern times. The inter-related nature of the projects is a key feature of the proposal, with preliminary findings from projects feeding into the development of the research in others, and so on. Findings from the will be used to inform understanding among the public, policy-makers and the media, through a range of user-focused activities, as well as to generate new knowledge to advance understanding of the dynamics of constitutional change.

Planned Impact

The proposed research centre will provide informed, impartial analysis on the future of the UK and Scotland both before and after the referendum on Scottish independence. It has identified three main sets of beneficiaries: (i) Civil society, including the voluntary sector, the business community, trade unions and public sector professionals; (ii) civil servants, political campaigners, parliamentarians, and their staff, including: civil servants in the Scottish Government, Whitehall, the Welsh Assembly Government, the Northern Ireland Assembly, and the European Commission; parliamentarians and parliamentary staff; and senior officials within local authorities; and (iii) the wider public in Scotland and beyond, who are eager to be informed on the consequences of the referendum outcome and of what may follow it.

We will engage in a wide range of activities to ensure our research reaches these audiences. Proposed activities include five seminars intended to bring together senior representatives of civil society organisations, government and parliaments. Each seminar will be by invitation only, and will involve 20-30 participants and be conducted under Chatham House rules to encourage frank, open and honest exchange. The five seminars will be on the following project themes: external relationships; economic futures; fiscal pacts; constitutionalism and democracy; and inequality in Scotland. In addition to these seminars, we will offer tailored private briefing sessions to representatives of the Scottish Government, Whitehall and other governments from the UK and beyond, on key issues relevant to the future of the UK and Scotland. We will guard fiercely our impartiality in all of these activities, which will be focused on enhancing the impact of evidence-based academic research.

We will reach broader audiences through several means. First, we will produce a comprehensive set of easy-to-read reports (3 per project - 27 in total), which we will disseminate widely among user groups and via the traditional media, social media and our website. Second, we will convene a large public conference in the aftermath of the referendum, to analyse the result and its implications for the future of both Scotland and the UK. We will also feed research from out projects into other public-facing events already planned under existing projects, including those supported by the ESRC Future of the UK and Scotland programme. Third, the project team will exploit opportunities to disseminate findings via the media, drawing on our extensive collective experience, contacts and reputations nationally and internationally. As well as responding to frequent requests for interview, we will actively seek opportunities to participate in relevant scheduled programmes by providing tailored 1 page briefing papers for circulation around broadcasters, and writing 'op ed' articles for broadsheet newspapers. Fourth, we will develop a research centre website, embedded within the 'Scottish Independence' section of the website of the University of Edinburgh's Academy of Government. This already includes a Referendum Blog which offers informed analysis of issues related to the referendum, as well as a portal to advertise relevant academic-led events. We will use the blog to disseminate project findings to a wider academic and non-academic community online. The blog is already set up so that posts are disseminated through Twitter and Facebook. These will be augmented by individual Twitter feed from selected members of the research team, contributing academic research to what is already a lively online constitutional debate in Scotland.

A six person advisory board will be established as soon as the projects are underway, to guide us towards ensuring that opportunities to inform and influence all beneficiaries are fully exploited.
 
Description As shown in our 2017 book, the referendum campaign focused on both constitutional issues and substantive issues of economics, welfare, defence and security. Risk and uncertainties were key factors in voter choice. The outcome did not resolve the constitutional question in Scotland, which remains live. Scotland represents an example of processes of spatial rescaling that are affecting European states as government is transformed and dilemmas of economic competitiveness and social cohesion emerge at all levels. Brexit only accentuates this process as our more recent work shows.
Exploitation Route We are continuing to work with officials and stakeholders in the Scottish policy community and at UK level about institutional change and policy options.
Sectors Government, Democracy and Justice

URL http://www.centreonconstitutionalchange.ac.uk
 
Description Our research has been used by parliamentary committees during the scrutiny of legislation relating to the devolution agenda across the UK. In addition, fellows have also worked with civil servants to inform the thinking of government. Extensive engagement activity has also helped inform and frame public debate around the issue of constitutional change. In terms of parliamentary engagement, the Centre on Constitutional Change has worked particularly closely with the House of Lords Constitutional Affairs Committee, the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee (Westminster), the Lords Economic Affairs Committee, the Scottish Parliament's Welfare Reform Committee and, especially, the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee and the European and External Relations Committee - both at Holyrood. In terms of working with government, we have provided advice to the Cabinet Office, Treasury, Scotland Office and Scottish Government both through formal meetings and workshops and less formal means such as newsletters and blogs, which we know to be widely read by civil servants. We have made a particular effort to inform the public and encourage popular understanding of the UK's changing constitutional relationships. This has involved significant outreach through both digital and traditional media. The focus of the centre's digital activity has been a blog-driven website, which so far has received over 659,000 page views from 220,000 visitors. Our output in the traditional media has also been significant with fellows reaching an audience of tens of millions during the Scottish independence referendum campaign and continuing to achieve a significant presences since.
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Communities and Social Services/Policy,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description A Carol Weiss effect on policymaking
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact The ESRC accepts that there is an often unclear link between evidence and policy. There is a clear role for demonstrating long term enlightenment and meaningful partnership on how to produce and use evidence, which is different from a very specific short term impact. In this case, I worked with Scottish Government civil servants to discuss and form some agreement on how to use evidence in policy, in general, and in relation to the Scottish Government's work on using evidence to inform 'prevention' policy. We are now using the relationship for a larger project funded by Horizon2020 on learning how EU member states address territorial inequalities. Our 2-year ESRC project has allowed us to develop a relationship with policymakers that underpins the design and delivery of future work, in our projects and theirs.
URL https://paulcairney.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/we-all-want-evidence-based-policy-making-but-how-do-we-...
 
Description Adviser to the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee - Preparation of the interim report on the post-Smith draft clauses
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact Acting as one of three advisers to the Scottish Parliament's influential Devolution (Further Powers) Committee allowed for the opportunity to help shape the future delivery of welfare in Scotland and the relationship between the Scottish and UK Governments.
URL http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/89474.aspx
 
Description Advisor to the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations on understanding and engaging with the Smith Commission and Scotland Bill (10 June 2015)
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Appointed as an adviser on intergovernmental relations to the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee of the Scottish Parliament - 2015
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact The system of intergovernmental relations in the UK is emerging and the work of parliamentary committees in building the process is vital. Inquiries such as this have begun the process of parliaments as institutions reaching out to one another and, in doing so, enhancing the efficacy of parliamentary scrutiny.
URL http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_ScotlandBillCommittee/Reports/DFPS042015R08.pdf
 
Description Briefing Paper on Repatriated Competences and Frameworks by Professors Michael Keating, Nicola McEwen and Stephen Tierney for Culture, Tourism, Europe and External Relations Committee, Scottish Parliament. May 2018
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact Paper examined the issue of European competences being returned to Westminster after Brexit and then devolved to administrations in Edinburgh, Cardiff and Belfast. The paper fed into consideration in the Committee.
URL http://www.parliament.scot/S5_European/Meeting%20Papers/CTEER_meeting_papers_2018.05.03.pdf
 
Description Briefing on intergovernmental relations for governmental delegation from Papau New Guidnea (Sept 2016)
Geographic Reach Asia 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
 
Description Citation in Constitution Committee (Lords select committee) report
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201516/ldselect/ldconst/149/149.pdf
 
Description Citation in Devolution (Further Powers) Committee report "New Powers for Scotland: An Interim Report on the Smith Commission and the UK Government's Proposals" (14 May 2015)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_ScotlandBillCommittee/Reports/dfpr-15-03w-rev.pdf
 
Description Citation in House of Lords Constitution Committee Report (May 2015)
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL http://www.parliament.uk/union-and-devolution
 
Description Citation in PACAC (Commons select committee) report
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201516/cmselect/cmpubadm/523/523.pdf
 
Description Citation in SPICE publication "Further Devolution for Scotland: The Draft Clauses" (19 March 2015)
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/87943.aspx
 
Description Citation in SPICE publication "The Smith Commission Report - Overview" (8 January 2015)
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
 
Description Citation in SPICE publication "The Smith Commission's Welfare Proposals (21 January 2015)
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
URL http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/85958.aspx
 
Description Citation in the Scottish Affairs Committee publication "Demography of Scotland and the implications for devolution" linked to my appearance as a witness on behalf of the Royal Society of Edinburgh
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact This publication included a set of recommendations by the Scottish Affairs Committee. Perhaps most important among these was the proposal that Scotland be allowed to control its own migration policy. This remains a matter of some contention between the Scottish and UK governments.
URL http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201617/cmselect/cmscotaf/938/93802.htm
 
Description Cited in Scottish Parliament Welfare Committee's report into the Future Delivery of Welfare in Scotland - 14 December 2015
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
URL http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_Welfare_Reform_Committee/Reports/WRS042015R06.pdf
 
Description Cited in the report of the report of the House of Lords Constitution Committee into the draft Scotland Bill Clauses - 4 Feb 2015
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Citation in other policy documents
Impact This review shaped the subsequent legislation, which in turn determined the nature of the settlement between the UK and Scottish governments.
URL http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201415/ldselect/ldconst/145/14511.htm
 
Description Contribution to UK in a Changing Europe submission to House of Lords on EU negotiation - Michael Keating, 24-11-15
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
 
Description Coordination of Devolution (Further Powers) Committee away day at the Centre, with academics providing insight on Belgium, Spain, Canada, and Germany (6 September 2015)
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Coordination of parliamentary evidence session on parliamentary scrutiny and intergovernmental relations with representatives from Belgium, Switzerland, and Canada (17 September 2015)
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
 
Description Design of Scotland's fiscal framework
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
Impact Following our research into the design of Scotland's fiscal framework, David Bell was invited to be the specialist adviser to the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee, which was carrying out an investigation into the tax devolution proposed for Scotland in the week of the independence referendum in 2014. The investigation and subsequent report were influential in affecting public debate. In particular, the debate on the Scotland Bill in the House of Lords debate which took place on 29th February 2016 included the following amendment (57ZA) by Lord Forsyth of Drumlean: Before Clause 13, insert the following new Clause- "Approval of the fiscal framework Nothing in this Part shall have effect until each House of Parliament has passed a motion expressing its approval of the agreement between the Scottish Government and the United Kingdom Government on the Scottish Government's fiscal framework." This amendment was intended to indicate concern over the lack of debate of Scotland's proposed fiscal framework both in the House of Commons and in the House of Lords. Although the amendment failed, this debate did provide one opportunity for an informed discussion of the implications of Scotland's new fiscal framework. The text from Hansard (referenced below) makes clear David Bell's contribution to informing this debate.
URL http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201516/ldhansrd/text/160229-0002.htm
 
Description EVIDENCE ON SCOTTISH FISCAL COMMISSION BILL
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Gave evidence to a government review
Impact I gave evidence on the functions of the Scotland Fiscal Commission as described in the Scotland Fiscal Commission Bill. The decision on this will be taken shortly. Among other things I advocated that SFC should produce it's own forecast and not merely scrutinise the forecast of the Government.
URL http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/parliamentarybusiness/CurrentCommittees/93009.aspx
 
Description Engagement with policy makers and practitioners
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
Impact During the referendum period, we worked with civil servants from both the UK and Scottish governments in the production of their analysis papers, while remaining strictly impartial ourselves. I attended several of these meetings in Edinburgh and London. I presented a paper on prevention policymaking to the Scottish Government in February 2014 (http://www.futureukandscotland.ac.uk/blog/%E2%80%98decisive-shift-prevention%E2%80%99) and June 2015. I chaired a Political Quarterly workshop in October 2014, which brought together the special issue contributors with UK and Scotland civil servants and representatives of local government and the third sector. I chaired a workshop in June, bringing together the Scottish Parliament's finance committee with civil servants and practitioners to discuss evidence based policymaking. I have given evidence to the Scottish Parliament, on (a) parliamentary reform and (b) public policy (http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/S4_FinanceCommittee/General%20Documents/Summary_of_submissions_Paul_Cairney.pdf), and to the Northern Ireland Assembly's inquiry on the Barnett formula. I have interviewed approximately 40 Scottish Government civil servants and Scottish Parliament MSPs and staff and will interview HM Treasury staff in 2015 (Emily St Denny interviewed over 50 practitioners in the third sector). I used this information to feed back regularly to both governments about their respective policy styles and progress. To maximise influence via an 'enlightenment' function (described by Carol Weiss), I have described my work on 'prevention' policy through the lens of the idea of 'evidence-based policymaking'. This has allowed me to engage with a much larger number and range of groups in government, the third sector, business, and think tanks, and I am continuing this important work after the term of the ESRC grant (for example, while launching my book 'The Politics of Evidence-Based Policymaking with the Alliance for Useful Evidence/ Nesta in March 2016).