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Divided We Stand

Kenneth O. Morgan contrasts the differing historical roots of devolution in Scotland and Wales, and argues that the two nations may be on the verge of a renaissance

Since the Tudor period, Britain has had one of the most centralised governmental systems on earth. The elections to the Scottish parliament and the Welsh assembly this May, therefore, foreshadow a new departure towards a more devolved, pluralist structure, even conceivably a break-up of the United Kingdom entirely. But they also show the historic differences between Scotland and Wales. Scotland now has a parliament with tax powers, Wales only a limited elected assembly with no powers over primary legislation. In the devolution referendums in September 1997, the Scots voted by a two-thirds majority for its new parliament. In Wales, with only half the electors voting, the assembly was endorsed by a mere 0.3 per cent majority.

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