Viable Alternatives to Violence: The Ballot Box or the Armalite

  • Nick Brooke
Part of the Rethinking Political Violence book series (RPV)


This chapter considers the extent to which non-violent alternatives for nationalist political action were sufficiently successful to render terrorist violence ‘unnecessary’ for nationalists in Scotland and Wales. First, the case of nationalist political campaigns in Ireland and then Northern Ireland are highlighted to demonstrate how the intransigence of their political opponents (either in Westminster or Stormont) prevented any form of political reform, diminishing the legitimacy of democratic methods of protest in the eyes of nationalists. Conversely, it makes the case that the electoral successes of the Scottish National Party (SNP) and Plaid Cymru in the 1960s and 1970s were followed-up with an accomodatory political response by British political parties. Furthermore, it argues that distinctly nationalist policies were adopted by the Labour Party in government, whose advocacy of nationalist issues was the direct result of nationalist challenges to their dominance in Scotland and Wales. Finally, it is highlighted that even when electoral campaigns were unsuccessful, other forms of protest have reaped government policy changes. Thus, it is shown that the viability of non-violent forms of political campaign can limit the growth of terrorist movements.


Terrorism Non-violent protest Devolution 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of St AndrewsSt AndrewsUK

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