Defending the constitution: the Conservative party and the idea of devolution, 1945-74

Cragoe, Matthew (2014) Defending the constitution: the Conservative party and the idea of devolution, 1945-74. In: The art of the possible: politics and governance in modern British history: essays in memory of Duncan Tanner. University of Bangor. ISBN UNSPECIFIED

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In retrospect, the interwar years represented a golden age for British Conservatism. As the Times remarked in 1948, during the ‘long day of Conservative power which stretched with only cloudy intervals between the two world wars’ the only point at issue was how the party might ‘choose to use the power that was almost their freehold’. Nowhere was this sense of all-pervading calm more evident than in the sphere of constitutional affairs. The settlement of the Irish question in 1921-22 ensured a generation of relative peace for the British constitution. It removed from the political arena an issue that had long troubled the Conservatives’ sense of ‘civic nationalism’ - their feeling that the defining quality of the ‘nation’ to which they owed fealty was the authority of its central institutions, notably parliament and the Crown – and simultaneously took the wind from the sails of the nationalist movements in Wales and Scotland. Other threats to the status quo, such as Socialism, were also kept under control. The Labour Party’s failure to capture an outright majority of seats at any inter-war election curbed its ability to embark on the radical reshaping of society that was its avowed aim, a prospect which, in any case, astute Tory propagandising ensured was an unattractive proposition to most people before the second world war.

Subjects:V Historical and Philosophical studies > V147 Modern History 1950-1999
Divisions:College of Arts
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ID Code:14179
Deposited On:30 May 2014 13:51

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