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Empire, Europe and the Union: Lady Priscilla Tweedsmuir (1915–1978)

  • Paul Ward

Abstract

Like Walter Elliot and Thomas Johnston, Lady Priscilla Tweedsmuir held to an outward-looking version of Scottishness that operated within the framework of the Union. She told the House of Commons in 1955 that ‘Scotland is a voluntary partner in the Union with England and Wales. We must take our share — and a large share — of responsibility in the great issues of foreign and Commonwealth affairs, defence and the wider matters of Government.’1 Tweedsmuir differed from Elliot and Johnston in two fundamental ways. Firstly, and most obviously, she was a woman, and secondly, born in 1915, she was of a subsequent political generation to them. Whereas Elliot and Johnston’s political careers were conducted against the backdrop of Empire, hers coincided with the end of Empire and the United Kingdom’s turn towards Europe. She was compelled to renegotiate unionist identity to take such developments into account. Another way in which she differed was that while Elliot and Johnston were subordinate figures in UK politics, it is fair to say that they were the two most eminent figures of their day in Scottish politics. Tweedsmuir was far less prominent. Her highest political position in Scotland was as Minister of State in the Scottish Office (1970–1972), and in the UK government it was as Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (1972–1974), where she was the first woman to serve.

Keywords

Foreign Affair Royal Commission Military Family Conservative Party Unionist Vote 
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Notes

  1. 2.
    See Helen Corr, ‘Where is the Lass o’Pairts?: Gender, Identity and Education in Nineteenth Century Scotland’, in Dauvit Broun, R.J. Finlay and Michael Lynch (eds), Image and Identity: The Making and Re-making of Scotland through the Ages (Edinburgh: John Donald, 1998), pp. 220–8.Google Scholar
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    The seat was won back for the Conservatives by Lt-Col. Colin Mitchell of the Argyll and Sutherland Highland Regiment. He was defending an imperial military career in which he had been criticized for his role in policing in Aden and he also fought to prevent the loss of a distinct Scottish identity for his regiment. As late as 1970, therefore, imperial Conservatism could turn the tide in some parts of Scotland: Michael Fry, The Scottish Empire (Edinburgh: Tuckwell and Birlinn, 2001), p. 491.Google Scholar
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    David Seawright, An Important Matter of Principle: The Decline of the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party (Aldershot: Ashgate, 1999), p. 124.Google Scholar
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    Lord Tweedsmuir, Always a Countryman, second edition (Robert Hale, London, 1971 [1955]).Google Scholar
  16. 45.
    For hunting as masculine, see John M. MacKenzie, ‘The Imperial Pioneer and Hunter and the Masculine Stereotype in Late Victorian and Edwardian Times’, in J.A. Mangan and James Walvin (eds), Manful Assertions: Masculinities in Britain since 1800 (London: Routledge, 1991), pp. 178–98.Google Scholar
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    Lord Tweedsmuir, One Man’s Happiness (London: Robert Hale, 1968), p. 79.Google Scholar
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    Mary A. Procida, ‘Good Sports and Right Sorts: Guns, Gender, and Imperialism in British India’, Journal of British Studies, 40 (2001), p. 455.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    See Christopher Hill and Christopher Lloyd, ‘The Foreign Policy of the Heath Government’, in Stuart Ball and Anthony Seldon (eds), The Heath Government 1970–74: A Reappraisal (London: Longman, 1996), pp. 285–314.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Paul Ward 2005

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  • Paul Ward

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