W(h)ither the Union? Anglo-Scottish Relations in the Twenty-first Century

David McCrone

in Anglo-Scottish Relations, from 1900 to Devolution and Beyond

Published by British Academy

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780197263310
Published online February 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191734144 | DOI:

Series: Proceedings of the British Academy

W(h)ither the Union? Anglo-Scottish Relations in the Twenty-first Century

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This chapter argues that Britain in 1900 was neither a state nor a nation. It also claims that ‘the scale of grievances in Scotland…is simply not sufficient’ to endanger the union and ‘if anything’ devolution has decreased them. The union may mean what one want it to mean, as Humpty Dumpty observed. The irony is that the imperial connection has in large part reinforced the contradictions of British national identity. The chapter then examines the issues of identity. It also highlights the need not to assume that issues of citizenship and nationality operate according to the same framework in different parts of the kingdom. There does not appear to be an antipathy to being British among people in Scotland, but it does not ring with pride either: hence, perhaps, the usefulness of the ‘withering away’ metaphor. In addition, there is nothing inevitable either about the survival of the union, nor about its demise.

Keywords: Anglo-Scottish relations; Britain; Scotland; union; British national identity; citizenship; nationality

Chapter.  5693 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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