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Title: Examining Scottish nation-building as trajectory: the role of welfare and shared values in the national discourses of Labour and the Scottish National Party 1967-2014
Author(s): Gillen, Paul
Supervisor(s): Lynch, Peter
Keywords: Nationalism
Scottish Labour
Scottish National Party
Scottish Politics
British Politics
Discourse Analysis
Issue Date: Jan-2017
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: This study examines a trajectory of the national discourses of Labour and the Scottish National Party (SNP), with reference to significant events during the course of contemporary Scottish politics, including the failed devolution referendum and election of a Conservative Government which sought to ‘shrink’ the welfare state in 1979; the establishment of a Scottish Parliament in 1999; the election of an SNP minority administration and then a majority Government in 2007 and in 2011, respectively; and the Scottish independence referendum in 2014. In doing so, it traces the development of nation-building over a period of nearly 50 years in Scotland. A nation-building battle between Labour and the SNP is uncovered, and the nature of that battle is examined in detail. The argument presented is that Labour and the SNP based their nation-building strategies on arguments around welfare and social justice, and that they used their national discourses to construct narratives about which constitutional options best suited Scotland. The study portrays how, over time, the SNP outmanoeuvred Labour on the left of Scottish politics, and how their social democratic discourse supplemented their arguments for independence based on representation and the democratic right of nations to have independent statehood. Labour used its national discourse to challenge the nationalism of the SNP and the idea of independence; but also to reinforce the legitimacy of the UK state’s role in Scotland. It is portrayed how the national discourses of Labour and the SNP were, in several respects, characterised by discursive continuity, from the late 1960s until the 2014 independence referendum. This reinforces the idea that nationalism and nationbuilding are remarkably consistent. However, nationalism is opportunistic, and this study portrays how major political events in Scotland have presented new challenges and opportunities to two different – but in many ways similar – Scottish nationbuilding strategies.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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