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Introduction: Unionist Lives

  • Paul Ward

Abstract

The problematic nature of the multi-national United Kingdom has been recognized for a long time. The United Kingdom is not a single nation but different nations held together by various Acts of Union. Wales was incorporated with England in 1536 and 1543, Scotland became part of Great Britain in 1707 and Ireland’s Act of Union, passed in 1800, came into operation in 1801. In 1921, the United Kingdom, for the first time in four hundred years, saw its geographical extent diminished through the Government of Ireland Act of 1920 and the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921. Six counties in north east Ireland were named Northern Ireland and retained within the United Kingdom, but the formation of the Irish Free State in the south meant that the territorial area of the Union was reduced for the first time in centuries. The union of nations that constituted the United Kingdom was, therefore, a dynamic relationship given to ebb and flow according to the political economy of national identity in the four nations.

Keywords

Civil Society National Identity Liberal Party Conservative Party British Broadcasting Corporation 
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Notes

  1. 1.
    Kenneth O. Morgan, ‘England, Britain and the Audit of War,’ Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, 6th series, 7 (1997), p. 140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    For a discussion of the terminology of the British Isles see Norman Davies, The Isles: A History (Basingstoke: Papermac, 2000), pp. xxiii–xli.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Christopher Harvie, ‘The Moment of British Nationalism, 1939–1970’, Political Quarterly, 71 (2000), pp. 328–40.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    There are many books that consider English identities. See, for example, Robert Colls, Identity of England (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. and Krishnan Kumar, The Making of English National Identity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 5.
    David Marquand, ‘How United is the Modern United Kingdom?’ in Alexander Grant and Keith Stringer (eds), Uniting the Kingdom: The Making of British History (London: Routledge, 1995), p. 279;Google Scholar
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  8. 6.
    And not only in political thought. The multi-national nature of the UK was evident in the day-to-day lives of all its citizens/subjects. There now numerous books considering the variety of ways in which individuals have identified with the nations of the United Kingdom. As well as books and articles cited in other notes in this introduction see, for example, Keith Robbins, Nineteenth-Century Britain: England, Scotland, and Wales The Making of a Nation (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989),Google Scholar
  9. Raphael Samuel (ed.), Patriotism: The Making and Unmaking of British National Identity, 3 volumes (London: Routledge, 1989),Google Scholar
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  11. and Paul Ward, Britishness since 1870 (London: Routledge, 2004).Google Scholar
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    See John Turner, ‘Letting Go: The Conservative Party and the End of the Union with Ireland’, in Grant and Skinner, Uniting the Kingdom (London: Routledge, 1995) pp. 255–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 8.
    John Ramsden, The Age of Churchill and Eden 1940–1957, A History of the Conservative Party (London: Longman, 1995), p. 200. Many Liberals ‘went over’ to the Conservatives as a reflection of their anti-labour politics rather than on the constitutional issue of the Union.Google Scholar
  14. 9.
    See David Howell, British Workers and the Independent Labour Party 1888–1906 (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1983), pp. 139, 140, 204–9, for working-class Conservatism in Scotland and Lancashire.Google Scholar
  15. 11.
    See for example Richard J. Finlay, ‘Unionism and Dependency Culture: Politics and State Intervention in Scotland, 1918–1997’ and James Mitchell, ‘Contemporary Unionism’, in Catriona M.M. Macdonald (ed.), Unionist Scotland 1800–1997 (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1998), pp. 101, 117–121.Google Scholar
  16. 12.
    Quoted in Eugenio Biagini, Gladstone (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 2000), p. 97.Google Scholar
  17. See also Vernon Bogdanor, Devolution in the United Kingdom (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), pp. 19–26.Google Scholar
  18. 13.
    For a discussion of these terms see Keith Robbins, ‘Core and Periphery in Modern British History’, in his History, Religion and Identity in Modern Britain (London: Hambledon, 1993), pp. 239–57.Google Scholar
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    Graeme Morton, Unionist-Nationalism: Governing Urban Scotland, 1830–1860 (East Linton: Tuckwell, 1999), p. 8.Google Scholar
  20. 17.
    The notion of a British World has been explored in a series of conferences organised by Dr Philip Buckner of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, University of London and in the resultant publications, see P.A. Buckner and Carl Bridge, ‘Reinventing the British World’, The Round Table, 368 (2003), 77–88;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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  22. 19.
    Stuart Ball (ed.), Parliament and Politics in the Age of Churchill and Attlee: The Headlam Diaries1935–51 (Cambridge: Royal Historical Society, 1999), pp. 214–5.Google Scholar
  23. 20.
    The most important books arguing the crisis paradigm are Tom Nairn, The Break-up of Britain, Crisis and Neo-Nationalism (London: New Left Books, 1977), second edition (London: Verso, 1981);Google Scholar
  24. Stephen Haseler, The English Tribe: Identity, Nation and Europe (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1996)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. and Norman Davies, The Isles: A History (Basingstoke: Papermac, 2000).Google Scholar
  26. 21.
    Richard Weight, Patriots: National Identity in Britain1940–2000 (Basingstoke: Pan, 2003), p. 1.Google Scholar
  27. 22.
    For a discussion of post-devolution historiography see Richard Finlay, ‘New Britain, New Scotland, New History? The Impact of Devolution on the Development of Scottish Historiography’, Journal of Contemporary History, 36 (2001), pp. 383–93.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Paul Ward 2005

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  • Paul Ward

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