The Not-So-United Kingdom: Nationalism in Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland
The 2014 Scottish Referendum shed light on a problem that has faced the United Kingdom for the past few decades: nationalism. The rise of nationalism in each of the four nations of the United Kingdom poses a threat to the union’s very existence. In the celebrated 1992 article “Britishness and Otherness,” historian Linda Colley argues that the presence of an external Other historically caused the four contingent nations of the United Kingdom to bind together against this external threat. Absent this threat, the four nations have become more aware of their internal differences, contributing to the rise of nationalist movements. This thesis uses newspaper articles, letters to the editor, opinion polls, and analysis of political discourse to explore perceptions of national identity and nationalism in Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland to determine the factors that are contributing to the rise of nationalist movements in each of these countries. These sources were used to determine if those making unionist arguments identified an external Other and if those making nationalist claims were more prone to civic nationalism or ethnic nationalism. Much of this analysis seeks to determine if the country is witnessing a nationalist movement or simply a nationalist mood. A nationalist movement pushes for constitutional change – or even independence – while a nationalist mood is primarily concerned with issues of national identity. The purpose of this thesis is to explore nationalist rhetoric in each of the nations of the United Kingdom to better understand the sources of growing nationalism, its potential impact on the Union, and its relation to Colley’s initial thesis.