Political publicity and improper purposes: Aberdeen City Council’s independence intervention

Scott, P. (2015) Political publicity and improper purposes: Aberdeen City Council’s independence intervention. Public Law, 2015(2), pp. 275-289.

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The existence of multiple layers of democratic governance creates the possibility of political conflict between these layers. Such conflict was particularly prevalent in the 1980s, as left-wing local authorities battled with the Conservative Government at Westminster over both "ordinary" political matters and more "constitutional" issues regarding the powers of local government and the degree of central control to which it was subject. The outcome of these struggles was the triumph of central government and the effective delegitimation of some of the ways in which democratic politics manifested itself at the local government level. An intervention by Aberdeen City Council into the debate on the constitutional future of Scotland in the run up to the 2014 referendum brought these issues back to the fore. This paper considers that intervention against the background of the rules which emerged—either by statutory fiat or common law evolution—in order to manage these 1980s disputes. Though the Scottish independence referendum took place without the matter being litigated, the incident raises issues of wider interest, and suggests a need for a more sophisticated understanding of the legitimate political and constitutional role of sites of governance in relation to issues outside of their direct legal control; a topic which may become relevant once again in the event of a referendum on membership of the EU.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Scott, Mr Paul
Authors: Scott, P.
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Law
Journal Name:Public Law
Publisher:Sweet and Maxwell

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