‘Negativity’ around Scottish and UK governmental relations, committee told

There has been a “negativity” surrounding the relationship between the Scottish and UK Governments in recent years, the Scottish Affairs Committee (SAC) has heard.

On Monday, three former secretaries of state for Scotland spoke to the SAC on intergovernmental relations between both governments during their time in office.

Douglas Alexander, Baron Desmond Brown and Baroness Helen Liddell all previously held the position and told the committee that the relationship between both parties has diminished in the 25 years since Scotland was granted devolution.

Douglas Alexander
Douglas Alexander, a former secretary of state for Scotland (John Linton/PA)

Mr Alexander was the Labour MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, previously named Paisley South, from 1997 until 2015.

He said the “reality is the character of Scottish politics and Scotland’s relationship with the United Kingdom, politically has changed significantly since all three of us in our different roles served as secretary of state for Scotland”.

Mr Alexander said the change in relationship between both is down to the SNP government in Scotland.

He said: “And that’s been a consequence of the Scottish National Party winning a series of elections, and respectively, I struggle to identify a single area of Scottish public life that has got significantly better in recent years.

“The Scottish National Party has been in power for 16 years. That’s longer than the iPhone has been invented.

“So they’ve been in power a long time, and in that sense, I worry that a politics focused on identity, who we are, not delivery, what we do, has been the currency of Scottish politics for a long time.”

He added: “And while I fully understand the interest in looking back retrospectively of intergovernmental relations over the last 25 years, I think if we want to have a more generative, positive, future oriented politics, characterising the relationship between the UK Government and Scottish politics, ultimately, it’s in our hands and the choices that, as Scots, and across the UK that we make in democratic relations.”

Baroness Liddell
Baroness Liddell, a former secretary of state for Scotland (Andrew Milligan/PA)

She agreed with Mr Alexander, stating: “I’d very much agree with (Mr Alexander) in that.”

Lord Browne said politics in Scotland and in the wider UK is now “completely different” compared with when he was secretary of state.

He said “politics and personalities” are why the relationship has diminished.

Baron Des Browne
Baron Des Browne, a former secretary of state for Scotland (Tim Ireland/PA)

Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who took on the role after Mr Salmond until 2023, will discuss her experience of intergovernmental relations during her time in office on April 29.

– Advertisement –
– Advertisement –