The Scottish Constitutional Tradition: A Very British Radicalism?

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Abstract

This paper discusses recent developments in Scottish nationalist constitutional thought during the period of 2002 to 2014, showing how the Scottish constitutional conversation has diverged from, but continues to be influenced by, the UK-wide constitutional conversation at Westminster. It presents Scottish nationalist constitutional thought as a ‘very British radicalism’, which is characterised by certain constitutional forms and ideas that are radical in a British context (such as popular sovereignty, proportional representation, a written constitution, and a commitment to covenantal socio-economic and environmental provisions) while at the same time retaining a persistent ‘Britishness’ in terms of specific institutional proposals and ambivalence towards the principles of constitutional government. Finally, I will discuss possible designs of a future constitutional settlement in Scotland and the United Kingdom. Notably, I will explore how far the Scottish constitutional tradition might impact on the constitutional shape of the United Kingdom.

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