Neoliberal Scotland: Class and Society in a Stateless Nation - Introduction

Davidson, Neil; (2010) Neoliberal Scotland: Class and Society in a Stateless Nation - Introduction. In: Neoliberal Scotland: Class and Society in a Stateless Nation. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, pp. 1-14. ISBN 1-4438-1675-2

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Readers of the Sherlock Holmes stories will be familiar with the dialogue in "Silver Blaze" concerning the curious incident of the dog in the night time. The famous exchange between Inspector Gregory and the great detective, on which the plot of the story turns, concerns an episode in which a dog might have been expected to bark, but did not. Similarly, academics based in Scotland, particularly the minority who also act as public intellectuals, might have been expected to analyse the effects of neoliberalism in that country. Such expectations have, however, been disappointed-and not because the advance of neoliberalism was halted at the Tweed. Given the exceptional extent to which Scotland is integrated into the capitalist world economy, such a miraculous deliverance was never very likely, whatever the wishes of local politicians and state managers-and these groups have, of course, been far from resistant to the new dispensation. The UK, along with the USA, was one of the first sites for the neoliberal experiment in socio-economic engineering. Indeed, one of the flagship policies of the second phase of British neoliberalism, the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), was launched in Scotland from 1995 with the construction and commercial operation of the Skye Road Bridge. As part of the British state, Scotland has experienced, and continues to experience, the effect of these policies to the same extent as the rest of the UK, with only minor variations since the establishment of devolved government in 1999. Indeed, in many respects, the application of neoliberalism actually became even more extensive under the Labour and Liberal Democrat governments than it had under their Conservative predecessors, and this has yet to be addressed, other than at the margins, by their minority Scottish National Party (SNP) successor. Yet only with the onset of a new period of capitalist crisis in 2007-08 did commentators outside of the radical left apparently notice that Scotland has been subject to the same neoliberal regime as the rest of the world, and even now it is journalists rather than academics who show the greatest awareness of this fact.