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The Bulldog and the Thistle: The Effect of Thatcherism on Nationalist Movements in the United Kingdom.


The purpose of this thesis is to explain the origins of the new wave of nationalism in the United Kingdom, particularly in Scotland. The popular narrative has been to blame Margaret Thatcher for minority nationalism in the UK as nationalist political parties became more popular during and after her tenure as Prime Minister. However, nationalism has always existed in some form in every nation of the UK, including England. This thesis asks, “How did Margaret Thatcher change nationalism?” because although the late Prime Minister is not to blame for the rise of nationalism in the past thirty years, there is a distinct correlation between the shift in national identity and political party affiliation, and the tenure of her administration.

The socio-psychological framework that Ted Robert Gurr created to explain “why men rebel,” has been a useful template to explain how nationalist movements can rise in multination states. Although the “rebellion” detailed in this thesis was not of the violent type for a variety of reasons, there was a revolution in how nationalist movements are executed in the United Kingdom, breaking away from nearly five hundred years precedence. It was the Thatcher administration’s economic policies and the perceived attitude of Thatcher herself towards minority nations that fueled a sense of deprivation in the minority nations of the UK, and ultimately reinvented how nationalist movements manifest themselves.

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