Governing Scotland: The Invention of Administrative Devolution

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Governing Scotland explores the origins and development of the Scottish Office in an attempt to understand Scotland's position within the UK union state in the twentieth century. Two competing views were encapsulated in debates on how Scotland should be governed in the early twentieth century: a Whitehall view that emphasised a professional bureaucracy with power centred on London and a Scottish view that emphasised the importance of Scottish national sentiment. These views were ultimately reconciled in 'administrative devolution'. Debates focused on where the Scottish Office should be based; the operation of the Goschen formula for distributing public finance; which matters should come under the Scottish Office; how changes in the structure of government should be 'sold' to the public in the period up to 1939. The constant theme of allowing for a degree of Scottish distinctiveness within a centralized state created a tension that was at the heart of the union state.

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'Mitchell traces the shifting political currents beneath these debates with insight and care for detail...Mitchell's book is full of elegantly expressed detail and is a treat to read for students of modern Scottish history and politics. There is a delighlful couple of pages for Lord Fraser's attention on the building of St Andrew's House.' - Richard Parry, Scottish Affairs

About the Author:

JAMES MITCHELL is Professor of Politics at the University of Strathclyde, UK. He was previously Chair in Politics at the University of Sheffield. He is the author of Conservatives and the Union, Strategies for Self-Government and co-author of Politics and Public Policy in Scotland, How Scotland Votes and Scotland Decides: The Devolution Referendum.

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