SCOTTISH ministers have used devolution to accumulate power and turn Holyrood into a “mini- Westminster”, one of the leading authorities on the SNP has said.

Professor James Mitchell said the centralisation by the Scottish Government ran counter to the hopes and expectations for devolution when it began in 1999.

The result was “insularly British with a Holyrood cherry on top”.

Instead of the Scottish Parliament representing a break from Westminster, with greater power-sharing across society, there had been more “micro-management”.

The author of numerous books on the SNP and its history, Prof Mitchell said: “Power has not been shared between the people, the legislators and the executive.

“We inherited the Westminster system of government. Relations between the Parliament and Government are more imbalanced than at Westminster.

“The very features of the old system that led to demands for change have become all too obvious in post-devolution Scotland.

“The Scottish Parliament’s committee system is much weaker than that in the Commons. Accountability may have improved compared with pre-devolution times but that is hardly a high hurdle.”

Writing in the new edition of the Scottish Left Review, the professor of public policy at Edinburgh University also said councils were suffering from “disempowerment”, but there was little they could do.

“The failure to address these deficiencies makes Scotland stand out as an outlier along with the rest of the UK in European local governance,” he said.

“For all the talk of being more European, of abandoning the Westminster model of government, today’s Scottish polity looks as insularly British with a Holyrood cherry on top of that which existed pre-devolution.”

He said our political system must be about more than “creating a Parliament and accumulating power for the executive in the Parliament’s name”, and called for fresh thinking from all Holyrood’s parties.

“We have lost sight of the ideals of self-government that animated earlier debates and stuck with a Scottish variant on the system that was supposed to be rejected.

“For all the talk of popular sovereignty, what has emerged is a mini-Westminster in which the executive is dominant, Parliament is compliant and any other potential sources of legitimacy are denuded of authority.

“The central paradox of Scottish politics has been that in the desire to find an alternative system we have ended up with a system of government that is essentially the same as the Westminster system.

“We have neglected deficiencies in our system of government. Relations with the rest of the UK are important but there is so much more that demands attention.”

The Accounts Commission last week reported Edinburgh had cut council budgets by 4.1 per cent in real terms between 2013/14 and 2020/21, bar Covid funding.