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'Whisky Gloss': The Alcohol Industry, Devolution and Policy Communities in Scotland

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JournalPublic Policy and Administration
DateE-pub ahead of print - 26 Jul 2012
DatePublished (current) - Jul 2013
Issue number3
Volume28
Number of pages21
Pages (from-to)253-273
Early online date26/07/12
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Debates on devolution in the UK have been concerned both with the extent to which this has led to policy divergence and with whether devolved institutions have facilitated a more open policy style, which allows easier access to policy makers for a greater range of actors. Further questions have been raised about the extent to which devolution has strengthened territorial boundaries, making it difficult for interest groups to circumvent devolved institutions. Drawing on a series of interviews with a range of policy actors, we investigate the impact of the minority Scottish National Party (SNP) government in Scotland between 2007 and 2011 on alcohol policy and the alcohol policy community, with specific reference to debates about the introduction of minimum unit pricing (MUP). We show that the Scottish policy style did allow extensive access to policy makers, but that the election of the SNP government disrupted the formerly prevailing equilibrium within the Scottish alcohol policy community. The industry was unable to escape the implications of a change in Scottish law for its interests, but industry arguments that MUP is contrary to European Union law indicate that there is still some scope for venue shopping.

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