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Conference paper: Rebranding the Scottish Executive: a discourse-historical analysis

University of Łódź

Abstract

In the 2007 Scottish Parliament election, the Scottish National Party (SNP) gained the most seats, but not an absolute majority. Nevertheless, it became the governing party after talks with other parties failed to produce a viable coalition. Previously, since the re-opening of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 for the first time in 300 years as part of the UK devolution process, the governing parties (a coalition of Labour and Liberal Democrats) had referred to themselves as the Scottish Executive. However, upon assuming power the SNP changed the name of this body to the Scottish Government, ostensibly because the term Executive was meaningless to the public. In the wider European political landscape this is unusual: while ministries, departments and even political parties change their names relatively frequently, the same cannot be said for top-level political institutions. This paper investigates this discursive act of ‘rebranding’ from a discourse-historical perspective (see Wodak 2001). In addition to critical analysis of various texts about the act of rebranding itself (e.g. media texts, political speeches and parliamentary debates, policy documents), the historical, cultural and political contexts are examined in relation to the wider significance of this move for top-down Scottish national identity construction. In particular, the discourse on the name change is analysed in the context of the SNP’s stated objective of full independence for Scotland, in the face of its powerlessness to achieve this aim because of a lack of an absolute majority in the Scottish Parliament.

References

WODAK, R. (2001) ‘The discourse-historical approach’. IN WODAK, R. & MEYER, M. (Eds.) Methods of Critical Discourse Analysis. London, Sage Publications.

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