How do you get a new government without there being an election?

When the SNP say so with their new £100,000 vanity project — to rename the Scottish Executive to The Scottish Government. A few have been noticing the creeping use of the phrase ‘Scottish Government’ over the past few months, but I did not foresee the full-scale name change (despite what SNP supporter Scottish Politics says).

Nationalists are dead chuffed. According to them, it is monumental. Not from my perspective. This is just the Executive deciding it wants a fancy new name just as arbitrarily as a ned gets a personalised number plate for his car.

I’m not sure what the point of the name change is (beyond making the SNP feel more important than they actually are). For a start, officially changing the name would require a change in the law in a reserved area. The change is cosmetic. Mind you, that is probably enough for nationalists. But beyond that, Alex Salmond’s justifications do not quite add up to me.

Normally supporters of independence line up to criticise unionists of claiming that Scots are too stupid and incapable of making an independent Scotland work. But today ask a nationalist and all of a sudden Scots are just too stupid to understand what “Scottish Executive” means. This is despite the fact that the phrase has been a part of everyday language for almost a decade.

Perhaps I am being a bit harsh. Maybe this “Scottish Executive” business is too taxing for those little voters. So what do they do to alleviate the confusion? They change the name. Because that won’t muddy the waters one bit!

It’s a tweak to the political lexicon that is not needed. Since the inception of the Scottish Parliament in 1999 there has been a need to differentiate between the bodies that govern us.

So the legislature in Holyrood is the Scottish Parliament (or sometimes just Parliament, if there is enough context to allow you to ditch the ‘Scottish’). There the Scottish Executive is formed and is led by the First Minister.

Meanwhile, the legislature in London is called Westminster (to differentiate it from the (Scottish) Parliament). That is where the government, led by the Prime Minister, does its business.

I didn’t think that was too confusing, but there you go. Obviously I, unlike Alex Salmond, am not in the sort of position to say when and when not Scottish voters are too stupid to know what’s what.

I was used to saying “Executive” for things that the Scottish Executive did and “government” for things that, er, the Government did. Now we have a homonym. So what do I say now? I suppose it will all be “Scottish Government” and “UK Government” from now on.

Except, that is, in bills. These will still contain the phrase “Scottish Executive” even though it was the Scottish Government that put forward the bill. The whole situation is crystal clear now. I really am glad that helpful Mr Salmond has cleared things up for us!

Of course, the Scottish Executive hasn’t given itself a new name because the voters are just too, too confused (although that is the SNP spin on it). Bellgrove Belle lets slip the real reason behind the name change:

[O]nce we are called a Government, act like a Government, people will begin to demand the powers of a Government.

So there you have it. Not only is this name change a piece of spin to the nth degree deliberately designed to make voters more likely to vote in favour of independence. But also the Executive is not a real government with “the powers of a Government”. It wasn’t me who said that; it was Bellgrove Belle.

So just what is the justification for the name change?


  1. I cringed when I saw this on the news this morning – surely the first step on the road to Salmond subtley obtaining independance once step at a time…

    It should really be an all or nothing move though, as you say it will cause more confusion in the short-term. And probably cost a fortune!


  2. “But today ask a nationalist and all of a sudden Scots are just too stupid to understand what “Scottish Executive” means.”

    Maybe they were using the amount of “spoilt” ballot papers as a guide.

    But then Alex has never been bright enough to figure there isn’t a letter f in the words health or wealth.

  3. Let’s face it, the SNP has changed the name for only one reason: it makes it sound more like Scotland is an independent country. They want people to refer to the “UK Government” because they consider the UK a foreign country.

    They could have changed the name by changing “Executive” to “Government”, yet they actually designed a whole new logo, ditching the Royal arms in favour of a Scottish flag. This should serve as a warning to Scots: while the SNP’s official policy may be to retain the monarchy, most of them are republicans. It’s worth knowing what you are voting for.

  4. No – you are not too harsh. It is a self-deluding scam by that makes the perpetrators look like con-artists. As meaningful and useful as Consignia.

    I have 3 points:

    1 – At least it costs less than the Holyrood Parliament did.
    2 – At least it is (I hope) Scottish not British or English money they are throwing down the toilet.
    3 – It is exactly the sort of move that Tony Blair would make.

    Having read Bellgrove Belle’s article, I regret that I find it equally delusional.

  5. Bearing in mind that “Scottish Government” is purely a (non-legally protected) marketing term being used by the Scottish Executive, I am establishing a new Scottish Government in the East Midlands.

    I would welcome applications for Ministerial positions.

    See the link on my name for details.

  6. I don’t recall people being confused about the difference between local government and Westminster government so can’t see that calling something the Scottish government would add any confusion.
    Executive in the governmental sense is more of an American usage anyway. No-one talks of the Westminster Executive so why was the Scottish administration so called in the first place?
    Executive also made it sound like a business thing rather than an administration.

  7. The concept of “local government” is quite different to naming yourself The Scottish Government though. I don’t think anyone is suggesting that the Scottish Executive was not a branch of government. It was / is.

    But to call it The Government? What if a local government authorities was to call itself, say, Fife Government? Everybody would be up in arms!

    Don’t know about executive being an American word. I’ve never heard that before, and the Online Etymology Dictionary makes no mention of it. But the as a term of business, it is of American origin!

  8. Jack Stephen:
    >Executive in the governmental sense is more of an American usage anyway.

    Specious nonsense, Jack.

    It is a Scottish usage since it is in the devolution law. If you (or the SNP) didn’t like it, the time to argue was when the law was up for debate.

    Alex Salmond has been in the House of Commons for the last 20 years.

    Can you show me in Hansard where he proposed the name “The Scottish Government” instead of “The Scottish Executive”.

    If you can, I will modify my view.

    In the meantime I regard this as a stunt designed to win by manipulation what they did not win by democratic process. And I regard Alex Salmond as a much smaller man than he was last week.

  9. >Don’t know about executive being an American word.

    My point about Executive being American is that they always used to make great play that the three branches of state – Legislature, Executive and Judiciary – ought to be separate. In Britain they have been blurred together – witness the Lord Chancellor being a member of cabinet – and as a consequence no-one ever referred to the UK/British Executive. Hence Scottish Executive always sounded very strange to me.