Publicity, parties and patronage: parliamentary management and the ratification of the Anglo-Scottish union

Bowie, K. (2008) Publicity, parties and patronage: parliamentary management and the ratification of the Anglo-Scottish union. Scottish Historical Review, 87(Sup 2), pp. 78-93. (doi: 10.3366/E0036924108000498)

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Since 1707, observers have asked to what degree the Scottish parliament of 1706–7 was ‘managed’ into ratifying a treaty of union with England. Given the national spirit evident in the Scottish parliament at its sessions of 1703 and 1704, it has seemed to many that only clandestine activity could explain the members’ turn towards accepting an incorporating union. As one contemporary put it, when he considered ‘hou opposite the same parliament [in] 1703 wer with thir measures, I incline to think a Scots parliament that sits beyond 2 or 3 years are soe far modelled by English Influence that they are noe longer vox populi’.1 Leading Scottish historians from George Lockhart of Carnwath in the early eighteenth century to William Ferguson in the later twentieth century have emphasised the role of patronage and secret payments in creating a majority for incorporating union, while the eminent historian of the Union, P. W. J. Riley, has pointed to the harnessing of members into noble-led factions.2 More recent research, however, has stressed the ideological foundations of these factions and their alignment in a Court-Country party structure influenced by an increasingly activist and public political culture.3 It is no longer adequate to claim that the Union was ‘bought’ by means of political jobbery; instead, political management must be placed in a wider context of ideological loyalties and public politics. This is not, however, to downplay management as representing an underlying ‘business as usual’ in a pre-modern parliamentary system. Of course the crown tried to manage Parliament; but what is interesting is the degree to which its ministers failed to do so between 1700 and 1705. Given this failure, how significant were the well-known management methods deployed in 1706–7? This chapter will assess the impact of management in the ratification of the Union treaty, not by rehearsing familiar instances of patronage and power-broking, but by demonstrating how these tactics evolved in response to the rise of more public and partisan politics in Scotland. It will argue that from the Darien crisis onwards, the changing nature of Scottish politics challenged the crown’s normal methods of management and forced ministers to develop a wider range of practices, including concessions to oppositional opinion expressed in public debate, to rebuild a Court party majority. By tracing the interaction between public and party politics and the crown’s management efforts from 1700, the chapter will provide a contextual understanding of the role of management in the passage of the Union treaty in 1706–7.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Union of 1707, Scottish parliament
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Bowie, Professor Karin
Authors: Bowie, K.
Subjects:D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Humanities > History
Journal Name:Scottish Historical Review
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press
ISSN (Online):1750-0222
Published Online:01 January 2008
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2008 Edinburgh University Press
First Published:First published in Scottish Historical Review 87:78-93
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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