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Conservatives and the idea of Union

Mitchell, James (1996) Conservatives and the idea of Union. Regional and Federal Studies, 6 (1). pp. 30-44. ISSN 1359-7566

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Abstract

The process of nation-building depends upon the nature of the state which has been established. The union of Scotland and England created a union rather than a unitary state, one which permitted some degr ee of distinctiveness to its components, and consequently the nature of nationbuilding has reflected these origins. During the twentieth century, the Conservatives were the party of the union state. However, under Mrs Thatcher a shift occurred in the party's understanding of the nature of the union. This was reflected in its responses to Scottish demands. The literature on 'Thatcherism' helps us to understand the changes but alerts us to the variety of different explanations that exist under that heading. In some respects, since John Major became party leader there has been a reassertion of the traditional Conservative position but the Thatcherite legacy remains evident. This discussion of the changing interpretation of the union and responses to Scottish demands in Conservative thinking contributes to our understanding of the process of nation-building, debates on responses to regional assertion and the nature of Thatcherism.