States of Union: Modern Scotland and British History

Paul O'Leary

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This review article focuses on the impact of current political debates and developments on key themes in a number of recent publications on Scottish history and politics. These include the nature of the United Kingdom as a state, the changing character of unionism as politics and ideology, the impact of the end of empire on Scottish identity and politics, the significance of the Thatcher governments, and the rise of nationalism. Recent research on Scottish history provides a platform for asking new questions about the nature of territorial politics in the UK and demonstrates how familiar themes can be re-appraised by taking into account the different national communities of the British Isles. It argues that the ‘where’ of phenomena such as the end of empire and Thatcherism are key aspects of their nature and suggests that comparative history is a way of undermining centralist narratives of the history of the British Isles. In so doing, it makes the case for a four-nations approach to that history.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)124-143
Number of pages26
JournalTwentieth Century British History
Issue number1
Early online date05 Dec 2015
Publication statusPublished - 01 Mar 2016


  • Scotland
  • unionism
  • nationalism
  • empire
  • thatcherism


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