British Politics 8(3) pp 333-356

Mae'r cynnwys hwn ar gael yn Saesneg yn unig.

This article examines the electoral discourse associated with state decentralisation. It offers an original perspective that complements existing studies by detailing the discourse-based dimension of policy agenda-setting associated with Scottish and Welsh devolution in UK state-wide parties’ general election manifestos 1945–2010. Innovative aspects include a combined quantitative (issue-salience) and qualitative (policy framing) methodological technique transferable to other (quasi-)federal jurisdictions. The present UK findings reveal policy on devolution to be part of a fluid and contested discursive process. Concerned to maintain the union-state, the principal parties present a ‘punctuated narrative’ as they shift policy positions on the exact nature of devolution for the two nations; only the Liberals/Liberal Democrats maintain a broadly consistent stance. With a trend of increasing salience that extends over seven decades, ‘identity’ and ‘autonomy’ are revealed as the most salient pro-devolution tropes. The ‘demise of the union-state’ and ‘promoting nationalism’ are foremost among oppositional frames. Following constitutional reform in 1999, analysis shows that the future trajectory (and end point) of devolution continues to be a vexed and salient electoral issue.