The Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament

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At Twenty

James Mitchell & Jim Johnston

ISBN: paperback - 9781912147984; hardback - 9781913025335

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Back cover text:

The Parliament has established itself as an accepted feature in Scotland’s political landscape and there is little, if any, debate about its legitimacy as a representative body. At the same time, however, the goodwill towards the Parliament is likely to be tested as MSPs are faced with significant challenges over the next 20 years. This book explores some of these challenges and signposts key priorities in response.

Jim Johnston and James Mitchell bring authors from various backgrounds together to discuss the Parliament’s future. These voices include a feminist and equalities campaigner, the chairman of Brodies LLP and the President of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities, among many others. This short series of think pieces discusses vital issues such as the increased complexity of devolution, the Parliament’s new fiscal and welfare powers and the need to respond to public expectations and demands. Interspersed throughout the book are a number of Dear Scottish Parliament… letters from young people across Scotland articulating their hopes and dreams for Scotland for the next 20 years.

Perhaps the goal of the next two decades is to create a community called Scotland, at ease with itself and where everyone can disagree in an atmosphere of tolerance as our politicians strive to do right by those they serve.  Bernard Ponsonby, special correspondent, STV News

The Parliament and the Scottish Government have laid some strong foundations for effective scrutiny and transparency but there’s still a lot to do, with big risks and tremendous opportunities.  Caroline Gardner, Auditor General for Scotland


10. Twenty Years of Devolution: Small Steps Towards Equality, But We Need Big Leaps - Talat Yaqoob

Dear Scottish Parliament... Etieno Essien

11. Some Questions on Sovereignty and Free Speech - Charles Robert

Dear Scottish Parliament... Ewan Carmichael

12. A New Voice in the Land - Jim Wallace

Dear Scottish Parliament... Hope Teal

13. The Role of Law - Christine O’Neill

14. The Scottish Economy: Fiscal Challenges and Opportunities - Graeme Roy and David Eiser

Dear Scottish Parliament... Quinn Muirhead

15. Principles and Practices of the Good Parliament: Babyleave, Institutional Resistance and Change - Sarah Childs

Dear Scottish Parliament... Robyn Gibson

16. Look, Listen: This is Who We Are - James Robertson

Conclusion: The Scottish Parliament in a Changing World - Jim Johnston and James Mitchell

Appendix: A User’s Guide to the Scottish Parliament - Elizabeth Cantlie and Andrew Aiton

Contributor Biographies


Open the Doors! - Edwin Morgan

Foreword - Ken Macintosh MSP

Introduction - Jim Johnston and James Mitchell

1. Doing Right by the Common Weal - Bernard Ponsonby

Dear Scottish Parliament... Alicja Hertmanowska

2. A Building Which is More Than a Building - Gillian Baxendine

Dear Scottish Parliament...

3. A Tale of Two Parliaments - Lee Bridges

4. The MSP’s Role - Alan Convery and David Parker

Dear Scottish Parliament... Claire Hossack

5. Parliament and Business: An Unfulfilled Relationship? - Michael Crow

Dear Scottish Parliament... Dionne Hossack

6. People-Powered Politics - Fiona Duncan

7. Local Government and the Scottish Parliament: Parity of Esteem? - Alison Evison

Dear Scottish Parliament... Ellie Gauld

8. Scrutiny and Transparency - Caroline Gardner

Dear Scottish Parliament... Emma Cook

9. Raising Taxes - Charlotte Barbour and Moira Kelly


This timely book both looks back at the development of the Scottish Parliament over the last two decades and perceptively outlines some of the challenges that lie ahead. It does so, not as a dry academic textbook, but as an accessible collection of thoughts and observations. Ken Macintosh - MSP, Presiding Officer

The Scottish Parliament was created with the intention of performing its functions differently from Westminster. It succeeded in being a modern, rather than a fundamentally different version of the House of Commons. Jim Johnston and James Mitchell

Find out more about the YoungScot competition on the Parliament’s website

Nicola Sturgeon reflects on 20 years in parliament in the Holyrood

Nicola Sturgeon’s official statement on Scotland’s future and Brexit

Read how a Scottish Parliament 20th anniversary event is to encourage more women to become politicians in the Holyrood

Visit the Parliament’s website to find out more

Watch some coverage from the Scottish Parliament on key areas of policy: