Luis Moreno: 1983 in retrospect: The Scottish ‘dead duck’ and the Catalan phoenix

In this blog Luis Moreno reflects on his fledgling research in 1983 comparing Catalonia and Scotland. You can read Moreno’s crucial 1988 contribution to debates over identities in these stateless nations on the SGY Archive: ‘Scotland and Catalonia: the path to home rule‘.

I first met Richard McAllister, then Lecturer at the Department of Politics of the University of Edinburgh, on occasion of the meeting of the Salzburg Global Seminar on ‘European-American relations’ in mid February 1983. Some thirty years later, I remember vividly our conversations walking on the thick ice of the frozen pond in the back of the magnificent Schloss Leopoldskron. My request for his advice was related to the possibility of my coming to Edinburgh to embark in a PhD programme, pending on the award of a scholarship, which eventually the Spanish Ministry of Education granted me after a competitive process. At that time I was finishing my term of office as elected member of the local council in an industrial town in the outskirts of Madrid (Torrejón de Ardoz). Indeed, those were exciting times as I felt that with my personal contribution I was helping to make possible Spain’s institutional transition from dictatorship to democracy. But I also felt that I was better suited to re-start my academic career as a political scientist. Being in the ‘trenches’ as a politician had also taught me how difficult at times it is to ‘swallow a toad every day for breakfast’, as a colleague used to joke about regarding the wheeling and dealing of the old political art of the possible.

As I had become more interested in the territorial politics of decentralisation with my involvement in the institutional articulation of the Madrid region within the emerging quasi-federal State of the Autonomies (Estado de las Autonomìas), my plan was to do research on Scotland’s devolution. As a vocational comparativist, I pondered that the most plausible study to carry out was between Scotland and Catalonia. Both stateless nations have shared a somewhat similar social configuration as communities with analogous perceptions, interpretations and aspirations for home rule. However, and as far as the achievement of institutional forms of self-government is concerned, Scotland and Catalonia have not always followed parallel processes over the last decades. I was particularly motivated to find out and explain why the most influential modern schools of thought (functionalist and Marxist, in their various variants) had insisted that both territories were failed national communities which were bound to disappear, an assertion that have been repeatedly falsified in contemporary times.

In Salzburg I was advised to get in touch with McAllister’s colleague at the Politics Department, Henry Drucker, who later agreed to become my PhD supervisor. When I arrived in Edinburgh to begin my doctoral research I experienced a certain disdain towards my task: “You are a rara avis being yourself a madrileño writing on Catalonia, aren’t you? Have you heard Thatcher stating that devolution is a ‘dead duck’? So Catalonia has arisen like a phoenix bird after 40 year of General Franco’s dictatorship?” … Rara avis, dead duck, phoenix… It seemed I was about to write a dissertation on ornithology rather than on political science. But I was very lucky to meet Henry Drucker.

As David McCrone and Lindsay Paterson have rightly pointed out in their account posted in this blog, the late Henry Drucker (1942-2002) was not only the promoter of the Unit for the Study of Government in Scotland and the Scottish Government Yearbooks, but he also helped to lay the basis for Edinburgh becoming a major centre for multidisciplinary research, teaching and writing. Indeed I was fortunate to have Henry Drucker as my thesis director. He had co-authored with Gordon Brown (British Chancellor of Exchequer and subsequent Prime Minister in the period 1997-2010) the book, The Politics of Devolution and Nationalism (1980). Other than providing invaluable academic guidance, Henry was very helpful with my practical field work. With his gifted managerial capability, Henry Drucker was able to ‘find’ £200 plus VAT [£230] for System Three to include in its survey what later has been coined as ‘The Moreno Question’. My wording was: ‘We are interested to know how people living in Scotland see themselves in terms of their nationality. Which of the statements on this card best describes how you regard yourself?’

  1. Scottish, not British;
  2. More Scottish than British;
  3. Equally Scottish and British;
  4. More British than Scottish;
  5. British, not Scottish.

A sample of 965 adults aged 18 and over were interviewed at home in 39 sampling points throughout Scotland over the period 26 June/1 July 1986.

When I passed my doctoral viva voce in September 1986, developments regarding Scottish devolution were gradually putting behind the fiasco of the 1979 Referendum. By contrast, the 1979 Statute of Autonomy had already allowed Catalonia to exercise an extensive degree of home rule. Nearly three decades later the two countries were on the brink of independence. Indeed, the Scottish ‘duck’ resurrected and came close to fly on its own after the referendum held in September 18, 2014. Two months later, the Catalans tried to follow the example of the Scottish flight in a public consultation which had previously been declared unconstitutional. The two countries now face scenarios of gaining deeper home rule within an interdependent European Union. For the foreseeable future, it cannot be adduced that both national communities are to be homogenised and dissolved within the British and Spanish polities, can it?

Luis Moreno, December 2014


Scottish Government Yearbook: a History

In this blog the editors of the final SGY David McCrone and Lindsay Paterson reflect on the back-story of the Yearbooks

Scottish Government Yearbook: a History

‘Scotland is a perplexing place at present. It is on the threshold of a major constitutional reform which will greatly enhance its political life and which will change the course of history in unpredictable ways.’

These were the opening lines Henry Drucker wrote in the first edition of Scottish Government Yearbook in 1976. If they could equally describe present conditions, in 2014, they are a mark of how much, as well as how little, has changed in Scotland almost 40 years later.

What he would have maSGY 1 (2)de of developments since he died in 2002 is a matter for speculation, although he probably would still hold to his view in the last lines of that first editorial that ‘Partly because of the political changes going on within it, Scotland is alive and exciting. Its government is much more interesting than it was until very recently, and to us at least, it makes the rest of Great Britain seem dull’.

An American, Henry Drucker came to Edinburgh in 1967 to teach political theory, having completed a PhD ‘The Political Uses of Ideology’ at the London School of Economics. Arriving in Edinburgh, he took to the practice as well as the study of Scottish politics as a duck to water. He was close to that generation of Labour politicians like Robin Cook (he was his constituency chairman in Edinburgh Central) and Gordon Brown, with whom he co-wrote The Politics of Nationalism and Devolution in 1980.

It was this experience which caused him to write his book Doctrine and Ethos in the Labour Party (1979). His interest in Scottish politics led him to write Breakaway: The Scottish Labour Party (EUSPB, 1977), an account of the short-lived political party led by Jim Sillars. He also edited John P. Mackintosh on Scotland (Longman, 1982) the writings on Scotland of John P. Mackintosh, politician and academic who died in 1978, and, with his students, wrote ‘Learning to Fight Multi-Party Elections: the lessons of Hillhead’ (Parliamentary Affairs, Summer, 1982), a study of how Roy Jenkins won the seat at a by-election in 1982.

Henry’s rationale for setting up the Unit for the Study of Government in Scotland (USGS) was the hope that ‘it might act as a catalyst by bringing together people from inside and outside the world of government to discuss [these] issues’. The Scottish Government Yearbook (SGY) was to be its vehicle, to be at the centre of debate about government in Scotland, with contributions from practitioners and academics alike, but only if the latter eschewed copious and boring footnotes. The first edition, Our Changing Scotland, edited by Henry and Michael Clarke, was dedicated ‘to the much maligned governors of Scotland’, making the country sound a bit like a jail.

As a yearbook, SGY had a bibliographic and a reference section, with Chris Allen providing the former, and Allan Macartney a review of opinion polls. Jim Naughtie, at the time political editor of The Scotsman, wrote ‘the year at Westminster’. John Bochel and David Denver analysed election results, and Hamish (McNair) Henderson reviewed Scottish legislation.

The first yearbook, Our Changing Scotland, was published by Edinburgh University Students Publication Board (EUSPB) which had published Gordon Brown’s Red Paper on Scotland in 1975. Henry subsequently found a local (very) small publisher, Paul Harris, who published the Yearbook between 1978 and 1982.

Michael Clarke who had co-edited SGY in its first two editions went off to work in Policy Planning at Lothian Regional Council, and Henry’s wife Nancy, who taught in the Department of Social Administration, co-edited the three editions between 1979 and 1982.

Henry encouraged a catholic view of Scottish politics and government, and had involved colleagues in constitutional law, social policy/administration, as well as sociology. There was no question that only political scientists could make sense of Scottish politics, and in any case, specialising in such a subject as Scotland was not seen as a good career move.

The next five editions of SGY (1983 to 1987) were edited by David McCrone on his own. He had to find a new publisher in-house, the Research Centre for Social Sciences (RCSS), and its printing section, because the arrangement with Paul Harris, the previous publisher, had ended. In lieu of royalties, Harris donated past copies of SGY, most of which still linger in the vaults of Chisholm House, and copies of SGY can be had simply for the effort of a trip to High School Yards.

Between 1988 and 1992, SGY had co-editors, David McCrone and Alice Brown (1988 and 1989); Alice Brown and Richard Parry (1990); Alice Brown and David McCrone (1991), and finally Lindsay Paterson and David McCrone for the final 1992 edition.

The in-house publishing arrangement with RCSS, a hands-on experience, long before the days of digital printing, continued until 1992 when SGY was transformed into a quarterly, Scottish Affairs, edited by Lindsay Paterson. By this time, it became clear that an annual publication was simply not up to the gathering pace of Scottish politics, and taking a chance on a quarterly publication with substantially higher costs was a challenge ably met by Lindsay Paterson. Lindsay continued the demanding task of editing and publishing Scottish Affairs. Another Lindsay – Lindsay Adams – did the sales and marketing for Scottish Affairs which was published by subscription all the way down to 2014, when Edinburgh University Press took over the publishing.

More than 200 people contributed to the Yearbook over its 16 editions. Much depended on its contributors being prepared to write, gratis, for the Yearbook. It was reliant on a number of people who made the Yearbook happen: Helen Ramm who acted as its secretary, John Nimmo and his colleagues in RCSS who did the printing, Chris Allen for his comprehensive bibliographic essay, Allan Macartney for his review of polls, Hamish Henderson for his law review, the various editors who had to cajole contributors to meet deadlines, and more generally the steering committee of USGS, notably Charlie Raab, who made helpful suggestions.

Writing for SGY, and Scottish Affairs, was not an especially good career move as universities entered the days of research assessment exercises, and the modern university obsession with ‘impact’. Authors simply wrote for a public audience in the days before it became fashionable. They took the academic low road because they felt they had something to say about Scotland. The academic high road took the form of writing in academic journals, or in publishing books (the kind with lots of learned footnotes for the attention of referees).SGY2 (2)

Would any of this have come to pass without Henry Drucker? It is impossible to say, of course, but it is unlikely. It is something of a surprise to discover that he (co)edited only 5 out of the 16 Yearbooks, but they helped to lay out the future. Henry was enthused about what he found when he came to Scotland, and treated as interesting what others simply ignored or took for granted. In establishing the Yearbook, and more generally the Unit for the Study of Government in Scotland, and alongside teaching courses on Scottish Government and Politics, Henry helped to lay the basis for Edinburgh becoming a major centre for multidisciplinary research, teaching and writing. His broad conspectus that the study of politics and government was not the preserve simply of ‘Politics’ served Edinburgh well. It was the case that there were too few political scientists at the time interested in Scotland, and involving other social scientists in the endeavour was both necessary and valuable.

In any case, the study of Scotland had a wide pedigree into which SGY and USGS fitted. Harry Hanham, the first professor of politics at Edinburgh in 1963, had published his book Scottish Nationalism in 1969. In the same year, Christopher Smout in Social and Economic History had published A History of the Scottish People, 1560-1830, and his companion volume, A Century of the Scottish People, 1830-1950, in 1986. Over in Law, Neil MacCormick was the star in the firmament since his appointment in 1972. In Glasgow, James Kellas ploughed a productive furrow in Scottish politics, while Tom Nairn’s illuminating writings, notably his Break-Up of Britain (1977), made an impact well beyond the academy.

The transformation of politics in Scotland, of which the rise of the SNP was a key part, stimulated writing and study, and in such a way that conventional barriers between academic subjects were of little relevance. USGS itself ultimately became the Institute of Governance in 1998, co-directed by Alice Brown and David McCrone, by way of the Governance of Scotland Forum.

By the mid-1980s, Henry had found a new enthusiasm as a fund-raiser for the university, and by 1987 was appointed as Oxford University’s first director of development. He built a formidable and highly successful outfit bringing in major benefactions. In 1993, he left to set up his own consultancy, Oxford Philanthropic, to advise charities and education bodies on attracting external funds. Despite his Labour links, he fell out with the party in 1996 over the issue of ‘blind trusts’ whereby donors could make anonymous donations. On being elected in 1997, Blair’s Labour government ran into its first financial scandal, the Ecclestone affair. In response, one can hear Henry’s trademark ‘Quite’, said with a wry smile.

Henry died in 2002, at the age of 60, after a long history of heart disease. Scottish Government Yearbook was his creation, with succeeding editors developing it in new ways. We owe a debt to Michael Rosie, and to Edinburgh University Library, for making this Archive happen. The study of Scottish politics and government at Edinburgh has long relied on the selfless commitment and enthusiasm of many people. This archive is an important part of their legacy.

David McCrone and Lindsay Paterson

Looking Back: Sectarianism in Scotland

In an occasional series we ask an author from the Scottish Government Yearbooks to revisit and reflect upon their original article(s) and how much they feel may have changed in the intervening decades.

First in this series is Professor Steve Bruce, University of Aberdeen, whose argument in Sectarianism in Scotland: a contemporary assessment and explanation (SGY, 1988) noted the relative lack of robust data to make judgements about the existence or extent of ethno-religious disadvantage. It is striking that a generation later, and with a far wider and deeper range of data available, Bruce’s core arguments still hold.




A combination of being a Scot, working at Queen’s University in Belfast and researching loyalist terrorism got me interested in sectarianism in Scotland. My interests have expanded considerably over the last 35 years but, prompted by new evidence or new assertions, I have periodically returned to the Scottish sectarianism issue.

Re-reading my 1988 article ‘Sectarianism in Scotland’ was a reasonably comfortable experience. The prose is a wee bit earnest and a tad leaden but, were I to re-write it now, I would change only three things: two elements of evidence and one element of explanation.

In 1988 I wrote ‘the most obvious conclusion about the relative socio-economic status of Catholics and non-Catholics in Scotland is that the data required to say anything … is missing’. Thankfully that is no longer the case. A number of large surveys in the last 20 years have told us a lot and the 2001 census nailed the case. There is no evidence that Catholics have a markedly lower class profile than Church of Scotland identifiers. Indeed the ‘religious’ people who appear most disadvantaged are those raised with no religion. And, no, I have no idea why that is the case. The Irish migrants who settled in Scotland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century lacked capital and the industrial skills required to get the best paid manual work. And, as in the USA and Australia, they worked their way up so that by the end of the century, they were every bit as well off as the typical non-Catholic.

Second, I would now write more about women; I could hardly have written less. Looking back, I suspect that one reason sectarianism is exaggerated is that male scholars – and I am pleading guilty here – have concentrated on male-dominated institutions such as political parties, fraternal organizations, the clergy, and Old Firm football to the neglect of the half of the population who had little or no interest in such things. Reflecting on her own lack of awareness of sectarianism in a fine biographical article, Glasgow Catholic sociologist Angela McRobbie wrote: ‘Protestant working class culture only surfaced occasionally in Orange walks or in football matches between Celtic and Rangers. But in a family of girls with a father who was not at all interested in football this meant very little’ (History Workshop Journal 1995: 180).

The one change that comes close to a recantation is that I now think part of my explanation of Scotland’s relatively peaceful assimilation of a large and culturally very different migrant population rather distorts the picture. I argued that Scotland did not become Northern Ireland because a number of structural features prevented Protestant Scots being effectively sectarian. Militants could huff and puff about Irish Catholics but they could not disempower them or discriminate against them in any sustained manner, and so they could not create the degree of ill-feeling that would have created an enduringly divided society.

Militant Protestants were hobbled by Scotland’s subordination to England. For example, Scots Conservatives might dislike the idea of state-funded Catholic schools but they could not oppose them because for English part of the Conservative party faith schools meant Church of England schools and English Conservatives were in favour of those.

They were hobbled by their inability to present a united front: the many fissures of Scottish Protestantism meant there was no concerted opposition to Irish Catholic migrants.

They were hobbled by their loss of control over manufacturing as locally-owned firms were bought up by national and then multi-national companies. And the growth of the welfare state meant new jobs in education, health, social work and local government that required university degrees and professional qualifications. The local networks which allowed an Orange foreman to fill a vacancy with a co-religionist relative became dust dry and blew away.

I still hold all of the above to be the case but my presentation was misleading. Sociologists like to discover the hidden structures that shape people’s actions. My satisfaction at identifying deep structures that stopped bigots being effective led me to overlook the fact that there were very few bigots. My explanation implies that there were very many Scottish Protestants who wanted to discriminate against Catholics but were prevented from so doing but every time I have returned to the subject I have been ever more profoundly struck by the lack of evidence of anti-Catholic bigotry.

It would take a book to list the examples that have caused me to change my mind but I offer a few. Bairds, Ironmasters, of Gartsherrie are often mentioned as an example of anti-Irish Catholic employers but they did hire Catholics and they donated the ground for St Patrick’s Church in Coatbridge. Conservative and Unionist grandees such as Sir John Gilmour, Sir John Cargill, Sir Charles Cleland and Col. Douglas MacInnes-Shaw could have supported militant Protestants: they did not. Typical of the Tory party is Colonel Sir Thomas Moore, MP for Ayrshire in the late 1920s: on the same day he opened a Catholic bazaar in Ayr town hall and addressed an Orange rally in Maybole. Much is made of the campaign by a number of Church of Scotland ministers to restrict immigration from Ireland and to restrict access of migrants to welfare benefits (and does that sound familiar?). More should be made of the fact that no Church of Scotland minister supported the Scottish Protestant League or Protestant Action during their very brief foray into the local politics of Edinburgh and Glasgow in the 1930s.

In brief, I implied that Scots Protestants were sectarian bastards who were prevented from acting out their wishes. This is misleading. Many features of the Scottish environment did accidentally lead people to behave virtuously but there is little evidence that very many of them wanted to behave otherwise.

The ‘indyref’: looking back to 1979 …

As Scotland approaches its third constitutional referendum, its first – in 1979 – provides a useful counterpoint. Whilst the 1979 proposals seemed, to their contemporary observers, radical and nation-changing, the powers of the proposed and aborted Scottish Assembly (note the noun) seemed all-too-modest little over a decade later. The referendum was mired in controversy – George Cunningham’s infamous amendment of the Scotland Act 1978 required that 40% of those eligible to vote must approve of the proposed Assembly – and ended in a majority voting Yes, yet the proposal failing.

The Scottish Government Yearbooks of the time offer a fascinating glimpse into the campaign, its results, and its aftermath. Opinion polls between 1975 and 1978 showed a majority of Scots favoured change: support for devolution varied between 43% and 65%; support for devolution between 18% and 26%. Support for the status quo – no change – peaked at 36%. In the immediate run up to the vote there was little indication that the underlying constitutional preferences had changed: across five polls published between February-March 1979 support for devolution averaged 49%, independence 17%; and the status quo 34%. Yet on the specific proposals to be posed in the referendum there was clear change. Across 1976-78 large majorities of Scots approved of the Labour government’s proposals of devolution, with those disapproving never rising above 37%. Yet when pollsters starting presenting the public with the more concrete proposals they would face in March 1979 they found clear and growing opposition. In the referendum itself the vote split 52% Yes and 48% No.

What does looking back to 1979 tell the observer of current Scottish trends? First, that referenda never represent any ‘settled will’. Rather they represent the specific view on a specific proposal at a specific time. The evidence of 1979 shows that many people who favoured constitutional change for Scotland either did not vote, or voted No to the proposals actually on the table. In that constitutional sense, ‘No’ does not always mean ‘No’.

Likewise unfulfilled promises of ‘something better’ should Scotland vote ‘No’ buttress and deepen support for change. This is accentuated by a further poll, in February 1980, in which Scots were asked how they would vote if the referendum were to be held again: 64% said they would vote Yes, rising to 68% of those who had not voted the year before.

You can read more about the 1979 Referendum in the Scottish Government Yearbook Archive, e.g:

Referendum results, March 1, 1979

Baur, Chris (1980), A time to lay down referendum rules,

Brown, Michael (1980), The Scottish morning press and the devolution referendum of 1979

Macartney, Allan (1979), Summary of Scottish opinion polls relating to voting intentions and constitutional change: October 1974-May 1978

Macartney, Allan (1980), Summary of Scottish opinion polls relating to voting intervention and constitutional change

Macartney, Allan (1981), Summary of Scottish opinion polls relating to voting intentions and constitutional change

Perman, Ray (1980), The devolution referendum campaign of 1979

The Scottish Government Yearbooks 1976-1992: Our Changing Scotland


We are very happy to announce the launch of a free digital archive for the Scottish Government Yearbooks, which were published by the University of Edinburgh’s ‘Unit for the Study of Government in Scotland’ between 1976 and 1992. The Unit was set up in the mid-1970s to address ‘Our Changing Scotland’ and the certainty – as it seemed at the time – of a devolved Assembly in Edinburgh. The Yearbooks reflect the spirit of that enterprise: contributions cut across academic disciplines … sociology, political science, social policy, history, economics, theology, education, medicine, law. And they spanned a wide range of academic institutions, centred upon – but not limited to – Scotland’s universities.

But the Yearbooks went beyond academia to embrace lawyers, journalists, political activists, policy makers, civil servants, public sector managers, local government officers and clerics. Here now well-known names from journalism (Ian Bell, Iain Macwhirter, James Naughtie, George Rosie) rub shoulders with (then aspiring) politicians (Susan Deacon, Donald Dewar, Norman Godman, Allan Macartney, Malcom Rifkind, Alex Salmond), as well as with a wide range of Scotland’s influential academics. Through this rich mix the Yearbooks sought, as the opening volume’s editorial made clear, to engage with a Scotland which was increasingly proving to be “a perplexing place”.

The Yearbooks provide unparalleled insights into a crucial period in Scotland’s political and social development. They bear witness to, and carefully analyse, a Scotland in which a devolved Assembly seemed inevitable, a Scotland where those assumptions were dashed through the referendum of 1979, and a Scotland which rejected Thatcherism but endured its radical shaking of key institutions. The Yearbooks end in 1992, when ‘home rule’ stood reinvigorated and when the question of devolution was again dominating the Scottish political landscape. As the introduction to that final volume notes there was by then “a real sense of an uncompleted agenda” in, and for, Scotland. To address that agenda the Yearbooks morphed, in 1992, into Scottish Affairs, Scotland’s longest running peer-reviewed journal of contemporary Scottish issues. And the Unit developed, briefly, into the Governance of Scotland Forum and from there into the Institute of Governance.

In this archive you can find informed and critical articles on a wide range of topics of high relevance both to Scotland’s past and to its future. In light of the 2014 referendum, the third on Scotland’s constitutional relationship with/to the United Kingdom, the Institute of Governance felt the time was right to provide the full content of the Yearbooks online and freely accessible to all who are interested in Scotland’s past, and Scotland’s future. Our changing Scotland remains a perplexing place with an uncompleted agenda: here you will find much that helps explain where, in our recent history, we have come from.

Michael Rosie, Director, Institute of Governance, August 2014.


The Archive was supported by funds from the University of Edinburgh’s School of Social & Political Science, and by the kind assistance of the University’s Library and University Collections. The Archive was developed by the University of Edinburgh’s Library Digital Development Team.

If you find the SGY Archive interesting then take time to explore the University of Edinburgh’s Edinburgh Research Archive.