State of the Union: Unionism and the Alternatives in the United Kingdom since 1707

Hardcover | December 15, 2004

byIain McLean, Alistair McMillan

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This is the first survey of Unionism, the ideology of most of the rulers of the United Kingdom for the last 300 years. Because it was taken so much for granted, it has never been properly studied. Now that we stand in the twilight of Unionism, it is possible to see it as it casts its longshadow over British and imperial history since 1707.The book looks at all the crucial moments in the history of Unionism. In 1707, the parliaments and (more important) executives of England and Scotland were united. During the 18th century, although not immediately after 1707, that union blossomed and brought benefits to both parties. It facilitatedthe first and second British Empires. The Union of Great Britain and Ireland in 1800-01 was formally similar but behaviourally quite different. It was probably doomed from the start when George III refused to accept Catholic Emancipation. Nevertheless, no leading British politician heeded the Irishclamour for Home Rule until Gladstone in 1886. That cataclysmic year has determined the shape of British and Irish politics ever since. Having refused to concede Irish Home Rule through the heyday of primordial Unionism from 1886 to 1920, British politicians had to accept Irish independence in 1921,whereupon primordial Unionism fell apart except in Northern Ireland. Twentieth-century Unionism has been instrumental - valuing the Union for its consequences, not because it was intrinsically good. As Unionism was inextricably tied up with the British Empire, it nevertheless remained as a strong but unexamined theme until the end of Empire. The unionist parties (Conservative and Labour) responded to the upsurge of Scottish and Welsh nationalism, and of violence in Northern Ireland, in thelight of their mostly unexamined unionism in the 1960s. With the departure from politics of the last Unionists (Enoch Powell and John Major), British politics is now subtly but profoundly different.

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This is the first survey of Unionism, the ideology of most of the rulers of the United Kingdom for the last 300 years. Because it was taken so much for granted, it has never been properly studied. Now that we stand in the twilight of Unionism, it is possible to see it as it casts its longshadow over British and imperial history since 1...

Iain McLean is a Professor of Politics, University of Oxford. Alistair McMillan is a British Academy Post-doctoral Research Fellow, University of Oxford.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:304 pages, 9.21 × 6.14 × 0.89 inPublished:December 15, 2004Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0199258201

ISBN - 13:9780199258208

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Table of Contents

1. The United Kingdom as a Union State2. The Union of Westminster and Edinburgh Parliaments 17073. Ireland's Incorporation: An 'Excusable Mistake'?4. 18865. The High Noon of Unionism - 1886-19216. Ulster Unionism Since 19217. Unionism Since 1961: Elite Attitudes8. Unionism Since 1961: Mass Attitudes9. Representation in a Union State10. Public Finance in an Asymmetric Union11. Conclusion: A Union State Without UnionismAppendix: Principal Characters in 1707 and 1800