The 'Celtic Lion' and social policy: Some thoughts on the SNP and social welfare

Mooney, Gerry; Scott, Gill and Mulvey, Gareth (2008). The 'Celtic Lion' and social policy: Some thoughts on the SNP and social welfare. Critical Social Policy, 28(3) pp. 378–394.



In May 2007 the Scottish National Party emerged as the largest single party in the Scottish Parliament and with contingent support from the Greens it now forms a minority Scottish government. This paper considers the ways in which social policy making is being approached by the SNP and the extent to which this represents divergence from the policies of the previous New Labour—Liberal Democrat administration. The paper argues that while the SNP has no tradition of policy making in the field of social welfare there are already some signs emerging of the direction it is likely to follow. Tensions between economic development and social justice agendas are highlighted with a concern that social justice could take even more of a second place than it has in the recent past. Finally it is argued that a neo-liberal vision of Scotland informs current as well as past policy making and explains why the promotion of social justice is more than likely to take second place to the pursuit of economic growth, reflected in the SNP's goal of transforming Scotland as a `Celtic Lion' economy.

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