Territorial Politics

  • Ian Holliday


The United Kingdom is a composite state with a complex pattern of territorial politics. It is a unitary state, in that all domestic sovereignty is formally concentrated in the Westminster Parliament. Equally, it is what Rokkan and Urwin (1982: 11) have called a union state, in that it does not have a uniform political and administrative structure. Instead, some institutions created in pre-union days have been allowed to persist, and others have been established to meet specific sub-national needs. The resultant system of territorial politics is unique, though it has not always been seen as such. Some 30 years ago the conventional wisdom was that the UK was a largely homogenous state in which matters like region and religion had been stripped of political salience by the process of modernization (Pulzer, 1967). Since then, the realities of UK political life and the concerns of political scientists have moved some distance from this position. Now territory is recognised to be a critical aspect of UK politics.


Local Government British Isle Local Affair British Politics Administrative Decentralization 
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Guide to Further Reading

  1. For the place of Ireland in and out of the union, see Beckett (1966), Buckland (1981) or Quinn (1993). For Scotland and the union, see Brown (1992) or Mackie (1978). For a recent analysis of Wales and the union, see Griffiths (1996). On politics in England see Rose (1989). For the UK in the EU, see Geddes (1999), Nicoll and Salmon (1994) or Nugent (1999). For stimulating interpretations of UK territorial politics, see Bulpitt (1983), Colley (1992), Hechter (1975), Kearney (1989), Kendle (1997) and Nairn (1977).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ian Holliday 1999

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  • Ian Holliday

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