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Cover UK Politics

12. The nations and the union  

This chapter explores the UK as a state which is made up of a number of diverse parts. These parts are Wales, Scotland, England, and the territory of Northern Ireland. Each part has its own characteristics which show through in the political and constitutional makeup of the UK as a whole. The chapter describes these different components. It discusses the various differences between them and looks at issues related to maintaining coherence. Using theoretical models, it analyses the nature of the UK as the state, the nation state, and the multinational state. It looks at the concepts of consociationalism, the unitary state, the union state, and federation. It provides a number of practical examples which demonstrate how these ideas operate in the real world. It also considers the Welsh language, territorial variation in the party system, the ‘English Votes for English Laws’ procedure in the UK House of Commons; and the ‘Barnett’ formular for the allocation of funding in the UK.


Cover British Politics

9. Governing from Below  

This chapter studies a key aspect of delegation in British politics: decentralization and local/national self-government. It deals with local government in England, and government in the devolved territories/nations of Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Decentralization in British politics has formed into a complex pattern, where there are different dynamics in the various territories: relative centralization in England, power-sharing in Northern Ireland, pragmatic devolution in Wales, and then a strong push towards independence in Scotland. For a question about how centralized or decentralized British politics is, the answer would need to be based on where a person lives, with England rehearsing the conventional arguments about constitutional centralization and the rest of the country increasing decentralization, if not a form of federalism. The chapter then assesses the question of the rationale and general stability of the system, with respect to the integrity of the UK as a whole.