Scotland and the Politics of Intelligence Accountability

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores the politics of intelligence accountability in the context of the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence and the 2015 General Election in the UK. Drawing upon Peter Gill’s model for assessing the effectiveness of security intelligence accountability, it argues that the Scottish Government’s proposals for intelligence accountability in an independent Scotland indicated a vague and conservative intention to maintain similar mechanisms to the existing UK political settlement. By exploring the accountability mechanisms for security intelligence in other jurisdictions, this chapter suggests that shortcomings in the Scottish Government’s proposals could have been addressed by learning lessons and adopting practices and processes from beyond the UK. The aftermath of the referendum — particularly the landslide victory in Scotland for the pro-independence SNP in the 2015 UK General Election — may herald consequences for both intelligence accountability in the UK and any future plan for accountability mechanisms in an independent Scotland. The previously unconsidered prospect of direct SNP representation on the UK Intelligence and Security Committee (ISC) — now a reality in the UK — raises the scenario that pro-independence politicians will develop the expertise, capital, and political legitimacy necessary for effective intelligence accountability that were lacking in the pre-referendum political landscape.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSecurity in a Small Nation
Subtitle of host publicationScotland, Democracy, Politics
EditorsAndrew Neale
PublisherOpen Book Publishers
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78374-270-7, 978-1-78374-271-4, 978-1-78374-272-1
ISBN (Print)978-1-78374-268-4, 978-1-78374-269-1
Publication statusPublished - 28 Mar 2017


  • Scotland
  • Intelligence
  • Accountability
  • Politics
  • Democracy


Dive into the research topics of 'Scotland and the Politics of Intelligence Accountability'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this