The Death of Unionism?

Edited by T.M. Devine

in Scotland and the Union 1707-2007

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print May 2008 | ISBN: 9780748635412
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748672202 | DOI:
The Death of Unionism?

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)


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This chapter demonstrates that the clear ‘death of unionism’ rests on Margaret Thatcher's redefinition of unionism than to the changing attitudes of the Scottish public. Also, the ‘rise of nationalism’ in elections owes more to institutional changes and the Scottish National Party (SNP)'s moderate, internationalist and inclusive redefinition of nationalism than to rising nationalist sentiment among the public. It then explores the trends in voting, trends in constitutional preferences, trends in political culture and values and trends in national identities. The ‘death of traditional nationalism’ should be assigned to the new SNP leadership rather than the voters. The data generally illustrates that the fall in Scottish unionism and the rise in Scottish nationalism have not been driven by changing public sentiment so much as by changing party strategies. There is a possibility that under the pressures of the war on terror, British unionism will be redefined to become more nationalist.

Keywords: Scottish unionism; Scottish nationalism; Margaret Thatcher; Scottish National Party; voting; political culture; national identities; British unionism

Chapter.  5918 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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