Scotland After Britain

Scotland After Britain:The Two Souls of Scottish Independence

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What is Scottish Independence for?

Since the referendum, Scottish independence has been captured by conservative forces. Scotland After Britain argues for fidelity to the true meaning of the word independence. It should mean not only a break from the failing British state, but also from the prison of free trade and militarism that has delivered successive crises. Most of all, independence must honestly address the huge injustices of income, wealth and power that continue to define Scottish society, by restoring agency to working class communities and voters.

Scotland After Britain shines a spotlight on pro-independence politics since Brexit and the pandemic. The Scottish national question has emerged as the biggest fracture in the British state after Brexit. The independence movement emerged from mass public disenchantment at the status quo, yet the SNP continues governing as if that disenchantment never happened, and the party leadership appears increasingly ambivalent about the risks of demanding independence. Most of all, the British state remains hostile to allowing a second referendum, while the SNP leadership has been unwilling to sanction protest beyond the ballot box.

Where do we go from here? Scotland After Britain argues Brexit could force the movement to engage in a reckoning with the true stakes of independence, a process that will inevitably require a breach with the SNP’s establishment vision.


  • The Scottish independence movement, as the authors show in this tour d'force analysis, has two contending souls. On one hand, the SNP provides yet another classic illustration of Robert Michel's 'iron law of oligarchy' - the tendency following electoral successes for progressive party leaders and politicians to build their own bureaucratic machines based on patronage and more conservative goals. On the other hand, the independence movement, still vividly alive at the grassroots, is the most realistic platform for socialist renewal in the ruins of UKania.

    Mike Davis
  • The late Peter Mair, who had a period at Strathclyde University and retained a keen interest in Scottish politics long after his departure, was one of the most distinguished students of political parties and movements in Europe. This book would appeal to him, not only because it explores the 'void' between citizens and organised social interests in Scotland that he wrote about but does so eloquently and with precision. While the campaign for an independent Scotland has been stuck in doldrums, the intellectual left associated with the cause has been remarkably fertile, thoughtful and intellectually provocative. This is a book that will be of interest to all, regardless of political or constitutional preference, interested in understanding Scottish and British politics today but also those interested in this 'void'.

    Peter Mitchell
  • Scotland After Britain is a searching indictment of the complacent dreamworld of Scottish nationalism. As a faltering attempt to escape from the noxious British state, constitutional cretinism put into cold storage the deep-seated class divisions and social inequalities afflicting Scottish society. Davidson, Foley and Wray are dissatisfied with the comforting consolations of the Left in Scotland. Instead they engage in a forensic analysis of the politics of class and nation in order to begin the business of breaking through the frozen ideology of Scottish nationalism towards popular democratic mobilisation.

    Alexander Law, Professor of Sociology at Abertay University