The Europe Factor: How the EU Influenced Changes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

By Loughlin, John | Inroads: A Journal of Opinion, Summer-Fall 2004 | Go to article overview

The Europe Factor: How the EU Influenced Changes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland


Loughlin, John, Inroads: A Journal of Opinion


IN 1998, TWO SETS OF POLITICAL EVENTS OCCURRED IN THE UNITED Kingdom that would have seemed improbable, even impossible, 20 years before. First, the Good Friday Agreement was reached in Belfast following negotiations among most of the protagonists in the Northern Ireland conflict. Second, Scotland and Wales were given their own institutions of self-government, the Scottish Parliament and the Welsh National Assembly.

Contrast this with the 1970s. In 1974, there was an attempt, also under a Labour government, to establish a power-sharing assembly in Northern Ireland. It failed in the face of a concerted effort in the form of a general strike led by extremist Unionist politicians such as Ian Paisley and abetted by violent Loyalist paramilitaries of the Ulster Defence Association and other Protestant terrorist groups. In 1979, the same Labour government tried to defuse a growing electoral threat from Scottish and Welsh nationalists by conceding a form of devolution in Edinburgh and Cardiff. Anti-devolutionists in the party, however, managed to block change by inserting a requirement that devolution be supported by at least 40 per cent of the electorate voting in a referendum. In Scotland, the 58 per cent who voted favour constituted only 32.9 per cent of the electorate. (In Wales, only one in five voted in favour.)

In 1998, the results were very different. Referendums produced resounding endorsements of the Good Friday Agreement in Northern Ireland (81.1 per cent) and the Republic of Ireland (94.4 per cent), although the unionist vote was more divided than the nationalist. In Scotland, 70 per cent (with a turnout of 60 per cent) endorsed setting up a Scottish Parliament. In Wales, devolution squeaked through with 50.3 per cent (with a 50 per cent turnout), still a significant swing from 1979.

This turnaround can be explained in part by factors within the U.K. The Labour Party changed quite radically during its long years in opposition. In the 1970s, it was paralyzed by several cleavages: between the hard left and the moderate centre, between those who favoured devolution and those who opposed it, between pro-Europeans and Eurosceptics--all in the context of a social and economic crisis as the old smokestack forms of capitalist production faltered, undermining the Beveridgian welfare state and the Keynesian approach to economic policy. The weak Labour government of the 1970s proved incapable of meeting these challenges. Forced to implement monetarist reforms under pressure from the International Monetary Fund, it was undermined by the hard left in the party and the trade unions who launched a series of crippling strikes in what became known as the "winter of discontent."

Labour's incapacity to govern and its deep unpopularity paved the way for Margaret Thatcher's victories of the 1980s and the transformed political landscape during almost two decades of Tory rule. British society also changed during these years. The economic gap between the prosperous southeast of England and the rest of the U.K. widened. Scotland and Wales became alienated from London as Thatcher attempted to impose neofiberal policies that frequently went against the grain of Scottish and Welsh traditions of solidarity and egalitarianism.

The Northern Irish situation had also changed significantly in the intervening years. The IRA hunger strikes of the early 1980s, and Thatcher's hard-line response to them, consolidated Sinn Fein's support among nationalists in Northern Ireland, even if they were growing weary of the armed conflict. The political balance changed with the constitutionalist (that is, nonviolent) Social Democratic and Labour Party beginning a slow decline and Sinn Fein emerging as a political force in its own right, rather than being simply the political arm of the IRA. Furthermore, during this period, the economy of the Republic of Ireland began its "takeoff" to becoming the remarkably fast-growing "Celtic Tiger. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

The Europe Factor: How the EU Influenced Changes in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.