SPIRe Seminar Week 5: ‘The Independence Question in Scotland – Issues and Prospects.’

SPIRe’s week four seminar will feature Prof. Michael Keating, Professor of Politics and ESRC Senior Fellow at University of Aberdeen, this Thursady (Oct. 17th), 1-2pm in G317 speaking on  ‘The Independence Question in Scotland – Issues and Prospects.’


The referendum on Scottish independence will take place in September 2014. Surveys indicate that only a minority of Scots support independence and this share has not changed significantly since the first SNP election victory in 2007. On the other hand, voters do not seem to be particularly frightened by the prospect of independence. Public and much of political opinion in England also seems relaxed about it. So neither the nationalists nor the unionists have won the political argument. In the course of the debate, the meaning of independence has been modified to include various common institutions with the rest of the United Kingdom. This ‘independence lite’ has converged with the option of ‘devolution max’, put forward by those who want more autonomy within the United Kingdom. Survey evidence shows that a majority of Scottish voters favour control of most domestic functions to be in the hands of the Scottish Parliament but are content to share foreign and defence policy and some other common matters. English political opinion remains wedded to the idea of the unitary state and reluctant to accept a federal system which would subordinate England to common federal institutions. There is more resentment over Scottish influence within this parliament than over Scottish self-government, so that English opinion might find Scottish independence easier to accept than federalization of the whole state.

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