Journal Article

‘Ever Reliable Friends’?: The Conservative Party and Ulster Unionism in the Twentieth Century

Jeremy Smith

in The English Historical Review

Volume CXXI, issue 490, pages 70-103
Published in print February 2006 | ISSN: 0013-8266
Published online February 2006 | e-ISSN: 1477-4534 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/cej003
‘Ever Reliable Friends’?: The Conservative Party and Ulster Unionism in the Twentieth Century

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The article offers some thoughts and observations on the relationship between the Conservative and the Ulster Unionist parties through the twentieth century, though with particular emphasis on the period from 1945 to 1964. It explores the changing nature of their connection, both in terms of practical political assistance (finance, advice, training, organisational improvements) alongside their continuing ideological compatibility (or rather incompatibility), to show a relationship under steady, and at times acrimonious, decline. At the heart of this decline was a mutual incomprehension and suspicion of each other, the product of an ever-widening set of shared beliefs and priorities, and increasing inter-party tension. Indeed but for the continuity of formal organisational links and periodic rhetorical appeals to sentimental (if not antiquated) attachments, the two parties may have carved a more independent line from each other well before the more seismic shifts in party relations in 1972 and 1986. Such strains were of some significance in the years leading up to the ‘Troubles’, helping to generate a sense of neglect and deep anxiety amongst Unionists that added considerably to the process of fragmentation with Unionism and the rise of a more extreme Unionist ‘rightwing’.

Journal Article.  16389 words. 

Subjects: British History ; World History ; European History ; International History

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