The Reinvention of Scotland?

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<ul><li><p>This article was downloaded by: [University of Connecticut]On: 08 October 2014, At: 08:32Publisher: RoutledgeInforma Ltd Registered in England and Wales Registered Number:1072954 Registered office: Mortimer House, 37-41 Mortimer Street,London W1T 3JH, UK</p><p>Political CommunicationPublication details, including instructions forauthors and subscription information:</p><p>The Reinvention of Scotland?Philip Schlesinger aa Professor of Film and Media Studies andDirector of the Stirling Media Research Institute,University of Stirling; Professor of Media andCommunication at the University of Oslo.Published online: 29 Jun 2010.</p><p>To cite this article: Philip Schlesinger (2000) The Reinvention of Scotland?,Political Communication, 17:4, 313-318, DOI: 10.1080/10584600050178898</p><p>To link to this article:</p><p>PLEASE SCROLL DOWN FOR ARTICLE</p><p>Taylor &amp; Francis makes every effort to ensure the accuracy of allthe information (the Content) contained in the publications on ourplatform. However, Taylor &amp; Francis, our agents, and our licensorsmake no representations or warranties whatsoever as to the accuracy,completeness, or suitability for any purpose of the Content. Any opinionsand views expressed in this publication are the opinions and views ofthe authors, and are not the views of or endorsed by Taylor &amp; Francis.The accuracy of the Content should not be relied upon and should beindependently verified with primary sources of information. Taylor andFrancis shall not be liable for any losses, actions, claims, proceedings,demands, costs, expenses, damages, and other liabilities whatsoeveror howsoever caused arising directly or indirectly in connection with, inrelation to or arising out of the use of the Content.</p><p>This article may be used for research, teaching, and private studypurposes. Any substantial or systematic reproduction, redistribution,reselling, loan, sub-licensing, systematic supply, or distribution in anyform to anyone is expressly forbidden. Terms &amp; Conditions of access</p><p></p></li><li><p>and use can be found at</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>onne</p><p>ctic</p><p>ut] </p><p>at 0</p><p>8:32</p><p> 08 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p><p></p></li><li><p>313</p><p>Political Communication, 17:313318, 2000Copyright 2000 Taylor &amp; Francis1058-4609/00 $12.00 + .00</p><p>The Reinvention of Scotland?</p><p>PHILIP SCHLESINGER</p><p>Keywords political journalism, parliamentary journalism, Scottish mass media, na-tional identity, civil society, Scottish public sphere</p><p>On September 11, 1997, the referendum on Scottish devolution produced a resoundingmajority for the creation of a Scottish Parliament with extensive powers, including thevariation of income tax. The Edinburgh legislature, which was finally installed in May1999, has competencies in many key areas of domestic lawmaking. Westminsters mainreserved powers under the Scotland Act of 1998 are the constitution, macro-economicsand finance, foreign policy, social security, and citizenship. Devolution to Scotland, Wales,and Northern Ireland, together with the UKs first directly elected mayor of London andreforms of the upper House of Parliament (the Lords), is changing the political landscapeand the nature of bargaining between political centers. This displacement of powers is partof a wider constitutional revolution that is challenging the UKs centralist state. It hasopened up the the English Question. Some think that present change will necessarily leadeither to a fully federal constitution or, alternatively, to the breakup of the United Kingdom,as the strains of asymmetrical government become too great.</p><p>Inevitably, such fundamentalif incompleteconstitutional reform is raising ques-tions about political communication and how this relates to the more complex divisionof powers and identity claims of the UK. The question of how media handle constitu-tional issues is being posed in a quite distinctive way, because they are faced with howto report on peaceful, negotiated change. Of course, the constitution (famously un-written) has been on the UK agenda previously. To cite some well-known 20th centuryexamples: There have been two world wars requiring a national rallying to the flag anddefense of the realm, and the taking of special powers by the state; the postFirst WorldWar Irish secession, fracturing the Union; the General Strike of 1926, deemed a threatto the state; the Abdication Crisis of 1936, concerning the status and continuity of theCrown; and the long-running Northern Ireland crisisinternal war by another name.Looked at this way, there we can reread media history through the reporting (and fic-tionalization) of constitutional crisis. We can also begin to create a typology of therange of possible mediated representations of constitutional change and their underlyingconditions.</p><p>Philip Schlesinger is Professor of Film and Media Studies and Director of the Stirling MediaResearch Institute, University of Stirling. He is also Professor of Media and Communication at theUniversity of Oslo.</p><p>Address correspondence to Philip Schlesinger, Stirling Media Research Institute, Universityof Stirling, Stirling FK9 4LA, Scotland, UK. E-mail:</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>onne</p><p>ctic</p><p>ut] </p><p>at 0</p><p>8:32</p><p> 08 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>314 Philip Schlesinger</p><p>Why Scotland?</p><p>In this brief paper, I focus on Scotland, the nation whose demands for autonomy withinthe UK (and in some quarters for independence from the British state) have really driventhis process of change. During the time I have lived in Scotland, I have come to appre-ciate the interesting problem of the nation without a state, one that resonates else-where, notably in Wales, Quebec, Catalonia, and the Basque Country. I have been drawnto analyze political communication in Scotland because I have a substantial citizen in-volvement in the place, because I work theoretically and empirically on questions ofnationalism and national identity (principally in the wider European Union context), andbecause it is simply a fascinating laboratory for the political sociologist. As I brieflydescribe here, Scotland in the past few years has offered the rare chance to observe theprocess of inventing new institutions, supercharged with high aspirations embedded inthe political discourse.</p><p>Until the union of the English and Scots parliaments in 1707, Scotland was a sepa-rate state (although the crown had already been shared for a century). It was the incor-poration of Scotland into the new union that led to the creation of Great Britain. Sincethe mid 19th century, the question of home rule for Scotland has been on the politicalagenda. My own research, however, comes out of the much more recent pressures forpolitical change of the last 30 years or so, and more particularly the pressures for reformdating from the late 1980s. During that time, Scots nationalists have pressed for inde-pendence (latterly in Europe), and the more flexible unionists have opted for devolu-tion as the contemporary version of home rule. For some, devolution has been anundisguised tactic for keeping the union in being; for others, it has offered a genuineroute to meet the aspirations of Scotlands distinct civil society.</p><p>I have called this brief paper The Reinvention of Scotland? because it raises anecessary question. To what extent does the new political status have a transformingeffect? The restoration of the Scottish Parliament after 300 years is a matter of greatnational symbolism as well as of practical politics. Symbolically, an institution of statehas been recreated, albeit with a subordinate status to Westminster. In practical terms,the bureaucratic politics of Scotlanda territory run for more than a century through adepartment of state called the Scottish Officehas been replaced with electoral politicsand with an administration called the Scottish Executive. Scotland has therefore beenreborn as a more complete polity, bringing into a different form the high degree ofautonomy that it has largely enjoyed since union.</p><p>My interest lies in the communicative dimension of the institutionalization of a newpolitical system since 1997. How does communicative space reconfigure, both in thedevolved nation and in the wider UK state? What processes of invention have to occur inthe media and ICT age when you replace bureaucratic politics with democracy in anancient nation? How inventive can civil servants, politicians, and media schooled incenturies of Scottish-Britishness be? What was the role of civil society in bringing aboutchange? How far can aspirations for radical democracy go, and how do news media fit in?</p><p>The Research</p><p>This article is based on an often ethnographic study of press, broadcasting, and politicsconducted since 1996 that seeks to draw out the implications of constitutional changefor political communication in a British state without a written constitution. The workhas been conducted with my Stirling University colleagues David Miller and WilliamDinan. Its central aim has been to track and analyze the emergence of three key ele-</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>onne</p><p>ctic</p><p>ut] </p><p>at 0</p><p>8:32</p><p> 08 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>The Reinvention of Scotland? 315</p><p>ments of the developing political communication system in Scotland: first, the rise ofa new framework for the practice of lobbying the Scottish Executive and Parliament;second, the evolution of the rules and practices governing political coverage of the Scot-tish Executive and Parliament; and, third, changes in the approach to handling officialinformation. Its subject, then, is journalists, lobbyists, and spin doctors. Does the inter-action of these actors produce a new political-communicative space?</p><p>The work draws on systematic media monitoring, documentary and archival research,observation in public and private fora, and interviews with some 90 journalists, broad-casters, lobbyists and public relations professionals, the civil service, and politicians.</p><p>A Note on Civil Society and the Constitution</p><p>Civic engagement was an organizing idea for the Seattle meeting. It rests on a priornotion of a civicor, its close analogue, civilsociety. This is a notoriously slipperyconceptual figure, with its origins in early modern political philosophy and the ScottishEnlightenment and its reworking through Hegel, Gramsci, Habermas, and others. In con-temporary argument, it suggests the involvement of citizens in the political process. Inthis broad sense, the role of civil society has been much invoked in recent Scottishpolitical thinking, underpinning the Scottish Constitutional Convention, whose prepara-tory work laid the ground for the particular form devolution has taken north of theborder. In its present usage, the idea has stood for the nation organized as a public interestin pursuit of democratic change. Historically, it has referred to the dense network ofvoluntary affiliations in Scotland and the separate law, church, and educational systemthat were left untouched by the union. The Scottish Constitutional Convention was avehicle for resisting the centralism of Conservative administrations based in London,which gathered up a range of social and political forcescivil societyto devise thenew settlement brought in by the Labour government in 1997. What is relevant to ourdiscussion is that there has been a certain kind of professional middle-class engagementin creating the new political conditions. Once it was agreed to create a devolved politicalsystem, the constitutional movement was incorporated into the process of writing a broadframework of rules for the Parliament. The vehicle for this was the cross-party and laygroup called the Consultative Steering Group, whichcounter to the British traditionin effect wrote a parliamentary constitution based on radical democratic principles. Withthe general election of May 1999, the balance between civil society and political societyshifted decisively, as we moved into the era of representative party politics in Scotland.</p><p>A Note on Scotlands Media Landscape</p><p>It is important to stress the distinctiveness of the daily and Sunday press in Scotland.This difference from the rest of the UK is also in some respects a feature of broadcast-ing. Distinctive media have developed in line with civil society. There are long-estab-lished broadsheet papers (The Scotsman and The Herald) and a very widely read tabloidpress (including most notably the Daily Record and the Sunday Mail). When you talkof the national press in Scotland, this does not equate to the London press, whichcirculates relatively weakly north of the border, although Scotland is really a stronglyregionalist country in terms of identities and press markets. Broadcasting ownership ishighly concentrated in the main commercial sector (ITV) on the Scottish Media Group,which reaches 90% of TV homes. In commercial radio, most local stations are ownedby Scottish Radio Holdings. In the public sector, radio and television are represented byBBC Scotland, which in radio is the only Scottish national station and in TV opts out of</p><p>Dow</p><p>nloa</p><p>ded </p><p>by [</p><p>Uni</p><p>vers</p><p>ity o</p><p>f C</p><p>onne</p><p>ctic</p><p>ut] </p><p>at 0</p><p>8:32</p><p> 08 </p><p>Oct</p><p>ober</p><p> 201</p><p>4 </p></li><li><p>316 Philip Schlesinger</p><p>London for specific programs. The main debates about postdevolution media have con-cerned whether there should be some Scottish-originated BBC news as opposed to tak-ing all of the network programs from London. There has been some discussion aboutthe performance of the press in reporting the new politics and some questions raisedabout regionalism and the concentration of ownership in ITV. It is important to notethat Scots do receive UK networked programs and, to a relatively limited extent, doread newspapers fully originating south of the border or offering editions created spe-cifically for Scotland. There is a shared British political and communicative space withthe rest of the UK as well as a relatively enclosed Scottish one.</p><p>The Scottish Public Sphere</p><p>Our research has attempted to delineate the nature of the emergent Scottish public sphere.It has done so with a particular model in mind. The interest lies in the nexus of inter-relations between political journalism and government, lobbying and government, andlobbying and journalism. The underlying premise is that these forms of action are cru-cial to understanding communicative power in the political domain. They are at theheart of contemporary, promotional, political culture. In the next three sections, I sum-marize some of our findings.</p><p>Lobbying in Postdevolution Scotland</p><p>This has become a very visible feature of the political landscape since the elections ofMay 1999. Commercial lobbying has grown, in fact, since the 1997 devolution referen-dum in response to the perception that ther...</p></li></ul>