Unionism in Britain since 1961: Elite Attitudes

Iain Mclean and Alistair McMillan

in State of the Union

Published in print September 2005 | ISBN: 9780199258208
Published online February 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603334 | DOI:
 Unionism in Britain since 1961: Elite Attitudes

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This chapter discusses the evolution of elite attitudes in all parties. On the Unionist side, some of the earlier props of Unionism fell away (interests of local economic elites; the Empire; anti-Catholicism outside NI), while brute facts such as Labour’s dependence on its seats in Scotland and Wales became more important. Labour became a unionist party rather than a devolutionist party in the Beveridge era, when setting and maintaining national standards appeared paramount. Its swing to devolution occurred in the 1960s and 1970s, most dramatically in the summer of 1974. On the anti-Unionist side: the very different trajectories of the Scottish National Party, Plaid Cymru, and the factions of Irish nationalism, the growth of pro-devolution factions in other parties, and that of English regionalism in some (but not all) regions. 1961 is taken as the starting-point because it was the year of the West Lothian by-election in which the SNP first emerged as a credible force outside wartime. The last ideologue of unionism (Enoch Powell) and the last principled Unionist politician outside Ulster (John Major).

Keywords: Scottish National Party; Plaid Cymru; survey research; Labour Party; Conservative Party; J. Enoch Powell; John Major

Chapter.  11847 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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