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The unfinished business of devolution

Mitchell, James (2007) The unfinished business of devolution. Political Quarterly, 77 (4). pp. 92-108. ISSN 0032-3179

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The UK’s devolution reforms were built on long-standing practices of differentiated territorial administration in the non-English parts of the UK. With devolution those practices became subject to new democratic processes, transforming territorial administration into territorial politics. The reforms were introduced in a piecemeal basis, lacking an overall conception of the impact of devolution on the UK state, and lacking consideration of how the government of the non-devolved unit of England can, through its size and weight within the UK, impact on and constrain devolved government. The combination of piecemeal reform and the ‘English question’ raises a number of open questions about the coherence and stability of the devolution arrangements, especially at the point when governments run by different parties import partisan considerations into territorial politics.