This paper explores the ‘separate space’ system that was set up to enable all major parties to access civil service policy support during the final six months of the last Scottish coalition, up until 2007.

The system created confidential channels through which the civil service provided factual information and analysis to enable the two coalition parties (Labour and the Liberal Democrats) and the major opposition parties each to develop their policy plans for the next term. The system was seen as having operated effectively by both the civil service and the parties. Benefits included ensuring that there was continuing long-term policy development, and strengthening relationships between the civil service and all parties.

This is the third in our series of international case studies designed to help inform Whitehall’s preparations for the final period of the UK coalition. Our final report from this research project will be published shortly.