Unionism in Scotland

Unionism in Scotland is the belief in that Scotland should remain in the United Kingdom in its present structure as a union between its main constituent countries. There are many strands of political Unionism in Scotland, as well as sympathisers with Unionism in Northern Ireland. Unionism is a movement often categorised primarily as being in opposition to Scottish independence.

The Union

The political union between the Kingdoms of Scotland and England (also including Wales as an English possession) was created by the Acts of Union, passed in the parliaments of both kingdoms in 1707 and 1706 respectively, which united the governments of what had previously been independent states (though they had shared the same monarch in a personal union since 1603) under the Parliament of Great Britain. The Union was brought into existence under the Acts of Union on the 1 May 1707.

With the Act of Union 1800, Ireland united with Great Britain into what then formed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. The history of the Unions is reflected in various stages of the Union Flag, which forms the flag of the United Kingdom. The majority of Ireland left the United Kingdom in 1922, however the separation of Ireland which originally occurred under the Government of Ireland Act 1920 was upheld by the British Government and the Unionist-controlled devolved Parliament of Northern Ireland, and it remains within the state today, which is now officially termed the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The 300th anniversary of the union of Scotland and England was celebrated in 2007.

tatus of the term

The term "unionist" is typically not one of self-identification in Scotland, although it is liberally used by Scottish nationalists and some political commentators.] Solidarity - Scotland's Socialist Movement and the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) seek a return to Scotland being an independent sovereign state, separate from England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Of these parties, only the SNP currently has representation in the UK Parliament, which it has had continuously since winning the Hamilton by-election, 1967. Both Solidarity and the SSP support an independent socialist Scotland, an approach that has been criticised by the Communist Party of Great Britain, as being unsocialist. [http://www.cpgb.org.uk/theory/ssp.htm]

Other support of unionism

In 2007, official celebrations of the 300th anniversary of the union of Scotland with England was muted, due to the proximity of the Scottish Parliamentary elections, which was two days after the date of the first meeting of the parliament of Great Britain on May 1. The union has become a subject of great historical interest recently, with a number of books and television series being released. Surrounding January, the anniversary of the signing of the union treaty but not the actual incorporation, the issue was heavily covered by the media. A £2 coin marking the anniversary was distributed by the Royal Mint.

On 24 March, 2007 the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland, one body which has been vehement in its defence of the union, organised a march of 12,000 of its members through Edinburgh's Royal Mile to celebrate the 300th anniversary. [ [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/edinburgh_and_east/6490917.stm BBC NEWS | Scotland | Edinburgh and East | Orange warning over Union danger ] ] The high turnout was believed to be in part due to opposition to Scottish independence. [ [http://edinburghnews.scotsman.com/index.cfm?id=453432007 Edinburgh Evening News ] ] The Orange Order used the opportunity to speak out against the possibility of nationalists increasing their share of the vote in the 2007 Scottish Parliament election. However, the SNP secured a plurality and a minority government under Alex Salmond following the election.

Ties to unionism in Northern Ireland

There is some degree of social and political co-operation between some Scottish unionists and Northern Irish unionists, due to their similar aims of maintaining the unity of their constituent country with the United Kingdom. For example, the Orange Order parades in Orange Walks in Scotland and Northern Ireland. However, many unionists in Scotland shy away from connections to unionism in Ireland in order not to endorse any side of a largely sectarian conflict. This brand of unionism is largely concentrated in the Central Belt and west of Scotland. Loyalists in Scotland are seen as a militant or extreme branch of unionism. Orangism in west and central Scotland, and opposition to it by Catholics in Scotland, can be explained as a result of the large amount of immigration from Northern Ireland. [ [http://muse.jhu.edu/demo/eire-ireland/v039/39.1bradley.pdf 10-bradley-pp237-261 ] ]

Songs and symbols of unionism, particularly of the Northern Irish variety, are used by many supporters of Rangers F.C., an association football club in Glasgow, Scotland. Both Rangers and its main rival Celtic F.C., which has Irish Roman Catholic roots, have a reputation for sectarian clashes and bitter opposition to each other, frequently characterised by religious taunts, chants and other provocations. This behaviour by some supporters is condemned by the management of the clubs. Despite the symbols associated with the clubs, not all Rangers supporters can be automatically classified as unionists, nor all Celtic supporters as Irish nationalists.


See also

*Scottish Unionist Party
*Unionist Party (Scotland)
*Sectarianism in Glasgow

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