“In Building a Nation few better examples can be found”: Norden and the Scottish Parliament

Andrew G Newby

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Following the reconstitution of the Scottish Parliament in 1999, after a hiatus of over three centuries, the development of links with the Nordic countries was presented as a strategic priority, and Scotland was apparently accepted by the Nordic Council as a part of the 'West Nordic Sphere'. Politicians and social commentators in Scotland - though not necessarily the majority of the electorate - have shown an ongoing fascination with their Scandinavian neighbours, for a variety of reasons. The Nordic Council itself, for example, has been held up as an example of how post-devolution Britain could renegotiate insular relationships to reflect a partnership of roughly equal interests. Images of Nordic society, often idealized, permeate political discourse much more deeply than the discussion of constitutional arrangements, however, and the advent in 2007 of Scotland's first SNP administration has, if anything, raised the profile of Scandinavia still further. This paper will highlight some of the ways in which Sweden, Norway and other Nordic states have been utilized as examples for Scotland to follow, during three broad time periods: (i) pre-1997; (ii) 1997-2007; (iii) since May 2007, when the SNP took power in Scotland for the first time. Further, it will argue that several paradoxes can be discerned, as this general discourse is based on (i) cherry-picking issues and (ii) a certain view of a 'Nordic model' that erases internal differences within Norden and debates within its constituent states.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)307-329
Number of pages23
JournalScandinavian Journal of History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2009


  • Scotland
  • Scandinavia
  • Nordic
  • Norway
  • Sweden


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