Still Different, Only Slightly Less So: Scotland Chapter First Online: 07 September 2018 Abstract
In the period 2014–2017 from, and counting, the independence referendum, Scottish voters have been to the polls on six separate occasions. The Scottish political environment of the last few years has experienced dramatic change, turbulence and seismic shocks that have been more far-reaching than in any era since the 1970s. The period has witnessed the arrival of the SNP in office as first a minority, then majority government, followed by the 2014 independence referendum. Subsequent events in 2015–2017—of two UK elections and the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections (which the SNP won but in which they lost their overall majority)—have to be seen against this backdrop: of a politics still in flux on big questions such as independence and Scotland’s place in the UK.
Appendix: Timeline of Scottish Politics 2015–2017 2015
7 May: UK general election.
11 May: David Mundell is appointed Secretary of State for Scotland.
16 May: Jim Murphy announces he will stand down as Scottish Labour leader, following a 17 to 14 vote for him to remain in post by the Scottish Labour Executive.
22 May: Lib Dem Alistair Carmichael admits he leaked the Nicola Sturgeon memo known as ‘Nikileaks’ about Sturgeon meeting with the French Ambassador.
1 June: Former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy dies.
24 July: Community Empowerment (Scotland) Act receives Royal Assent.
15 August: Kezia Dugdale is elected Scottish Labour leader.
12 September: Jeremy Corbyn is elected Labour leader.
29 September: Michelle Thomson, MP for Edinburgh West, resigns the SNP whip.
24 November: Natalie McGarry, MP for Glasgow East, resigns the SNP whip.
27 November: Maggie Chapman is re-elected co-convenor of the Scottish Greens, winning 57.7%.
9 December: Alistair Carmichael election court case finds he told a ‘blatant lie’ when he denied leaking Sturgeon memo, but it is not proven that he committed an ‘illegal practice’.
23 March: Scotland Act 2016 receives Royal Assent.
30 March: Scottish Elections (Dates) Act receives Royal Assent, extending the term of the Scottish Parliament from four to five years, with the elections after 2016 to be held on 6 May 2021.
22 April: Land Reform (Scotland) Act receives Royal Assent.
5 May: Scottish Parliament elections sees the SNP win 63 seats compared to the Conservatives 31, Labour 24, Scottish Greens six and Lib Dems five.
17 May: Nicola Sturgeon is re-elected First Minister with 63 votes to Lib Dem Willie Rennie’s five.
22 May: Stewart Hosie announces he will not stand again for SNP depute leader post.
26 May: Scottish Parliament votes by 106 votes to eight to support EU membership.
23 June: UK EU referendum.
24 June: David Cameron announces his resignation as UK Prime Minister. Nicola Sturgeon says a second independence referendum is ‘highly likely’.
28 June: Scottish Parliament votes 92 to 0 to give the Scottish government a mandate to open EU discussions on the implications of Brexit for Scotland.
28 July: Supreme Court rules against aspects of the Scottish government’s named person scheme in the Children and Young People (Scotland) Act.
31 July: Council house sales end.
24 September: Jeremy Corbyn is re-elected British Labour leader.
13 October: Angus Robertson wins the SNP depute leadership.
20 December: Scottish government White Paper
Scotland’s Place in Europe is published. 2017
1 January: First baby boxes in Scotland pilots start in Clackmannanshire and Orkney.
22 February: BBC announces new BBC Scotland TV channel to begin broadcasting in autumn 2018.
13 March: Nicola Sturgeon calls for a second independence referendum in light of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.
16 March: Theresa May says that ‘now is not the time’ for a second independence referendum.
28 March: Scottish Parliament votes 69 to 59 for a second independence vote.
29 March: UK triggers Article 50 to begin the process of leaving the EU.