I have just managed to pad out a book review (Comparing Devolved Governance Derek Birrell, Palgrave, 2012, 296 pp. ISBN: 978-0-280-27820-7) to 3000 words in Parliamentary Affairs. The first section is copy and pasted below and you can read the rest here if you are an academic or a rich personal subscriber. If you are neither, and want to read the rest, send me an email and we can arrange to meet in a dark alley with brown envelopes.
“The study of politics in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland is not something guaranteed to attract a wide academic audience, even in the UK. Further, that attention tends to be about specific things, such as the prospect of independence in Scotland, further devolution in Wales or levels of political conflict and violence in Northern Ireland. At a push, it might extend to the analysis of different electoral results and party systems. Yet, the devolved government experience has much more to offer, providing a rich source of evidence to inform policy learning among governments or simply to provide a comparative analytical and empirical framework within the UK. This can be done in two main ways: comparing the UK’s increasingly complicated governance arrangements with other countries; and, comparing UK and devolved government behaviour. The latter has much potential even though the devolved territories and governments are markedly different from England and the UK Government. This difference can often be a good thing for comparative analysis because any similarities in political behaviour and policy outcomes may be remarkable, while the differences help us tell a story about why things are done this way in the UK. Indeed, the Scottish and Welsh context is particularly important because devolved ‘new politics’ was often sold as a departure from ‘old Westminster’ (the Northern Ireland narrative was based more on power sharing and domestic politics). Scotland in particular was perhaps designed to be a consensus, not majoritarian, democracy. In this context, the devolution literature highlights a wide range of interesting sources of comparison.
New politics and political crisis: the expenses scandal in Westminster in 2009 prompted much soul searching on issues such as the role and value of representative government, trust in politics and the extent to which MPs were responsible representatives. The latter prompted further …”