‘Negativity’ around Scottish and UK governmental relations, MPs told

One former Scottish secretary of state said the relationship between both governments was ‘broadly very good’, but says this is no longer the case.

‘Negativity’ around Scottish and UK governmental relations, Westminster committee told PA Media

There has been a “negativity” surrounding the relationship between the Scottish and UK Governments in recent years, the Scottish Affairs Committee (SAC) has heard.

On Monday, three former secretaries of state for Scotland spoke to the SAC on intergovernmental relations between both governments during their time in office.

Douglas Alexander, Baron Desmond Brown and Baroness Helen Liddell all previously held the position and told the committee that the relationship between both parties has diminished in the 25 years since Scotland was granted devolution.

Douglas Alexander, a former secretary of state for Scotland.PA Media

Alexander, who was secretary of state for Scotland between May 2006 and June 2007, said relationships between both governments was previously “broadly very good”, but said this is no longer the case.

Alexander was the Labour MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire South, previously named Paisley South, from 1997 until 2015.

He said the “reality is the character of Scottish politics and Scotland’s relationship with the United Kingdom, politically has changed significantly since all three of us in our different roles served as secretary of state for Scotland”.

Alexander said the change in relationship between both is down to the SNP government in Scotland.

He said: “And that’s been a consequence of the Scottish National Party winning a series of elections, and respectively, I struggle to identify a single area of Scottish public life that has got significantly better in recent years.

“The Scottish National Party has been in power for 16 years. That’s longer than the iPhone has been invented.

“So they’ve been in power a long time, and in that sense, I worry that a politics focused on identity, who we are, not delivery, what we do, has been the currency of Scottish politics for a long time.”

He added: “And while I fully understand the interest in looking back retrospectively of intergovernmental relations over the last 25 years, I think if we want to have a more generative, positive, future oriented politics, characterising the relationship between the UK Government and Scottish politics, ultimately, it’s in our hands and the choices that, as Scots, and across the UK that we make in democratic relations.”

Baroness Liddell, a former secretary of state for Scotland.PA Media

Baroness Liddell served as Labour MP for Airdrie and Shotts, previously known as Monklands East, from 1994 until 2005.

She agreed with Alexander, stating: “I’d very much agree with (Alexander) in that.”

Lord Browne said politics in Scotland and in the wider UK is now “completely different” compared with when he was secretary of state.

He said “politics and personalities” are why the relationship has diminished.

Baron Des Browne, a former secretary of state for Scotland.PA Media

The committee will hear from Alex Salmond, who was the first minister of Scotland between 2007 and 2014, on Tuesday at 10am.

Former first minister Nicola Sturgeon, who took on the role after Salmond until 2023, will discuss her experience of intergovernmental relations during her time in office on April 29.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code