Small States in the Modern World
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Small States in the Modern World

Vulnerabilities and Opportunities

Edited by Harald Baldersheim and Michael Keating

Small States in the Modern World comprehensively assesses the different modes of adaptation by small states in response to the security and economic vulnerabilities posed by global change. It uses a diverse collection of case studies to explore the complexities of change and to place them in their temporal and geographical context.
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Chapter 9: Scotland as a potential small state

Malcolm Harvey


The inclusion of Scotland in a compendium on small states might come as a surprise to global observers who witnessed Scotland – by a margin of 55 per cent to 45 per cent – vote against the proposal to become an independent country in September 2014. Nevertheless, the process by which Scotland reached this decision, and the subsequent constitutional journey the UK itself embarked upon, provides a fascinating insight into how small would-be states think, plan and operate. The referendum campaign and, particularly, the Scottish National Party (SNP)’s proposals for independence were framed not, as one might expect, in terms of national identity and nationalism, but in terms of public policy outcomes and democratic accountability. From those proposals, it is clear to see the type of state that the SNP envisioned Scotland becoming. This chapter, through analysis of the Scottish Government’s (2013) White Paper on independence, Scotland’s Future, as well as close consideration of the referendum campaign, contributes to the small-state literature by examining the prospective features of an independent Scottish state. Of particular interest here is the influence of the so-called ‘Nordic model’ on the Scottish Government’s thinking – the proposals, specifically, to develop a social investment model, albeit with lower levels of taxation than most social investment states. It assesses the scope for changes to the institutional setting that would have been required to deliver such a model in Scotland.

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