Not quite as British as Finchley: the failed attempt to bring British Conservatism to Northern Ireland


Coulter, Colin (2015) Not quite as British as Finchley: the failed attempt to bring British Conservatism to Northern Ireland. Irish Studies Review, 23 (4). pp. 407-423. ISSN 0967-0882

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Abstract

In a previous issue of Irish Studies Review I examined the unanticipated emergence in the late 1980s of a series of Conservative associations in Northern Ireland. In this follow-up article, I will seek to account for the subsequent swift and ignominious decline in the early 1990s of the Northern Irish Conservatives. While the fortunes of the Ulster Tories were undermined by a number of contingencies – the vagaries of parliamentary arithmetic and their own lack of political judgement foremost among them – their fate was sealed primarily by certain rather more structural concerns. In particular, the rapid decline of the Conservative associations in Northern Ireland owes its origins to the historically “loveless marriage” between Ulster unionists and the British state. The unionist community simply refused to vote in meaningful numbers for a political party at the centre of a Westminster establishment deemed hostile to the cause of the Union. In addition, the Conservative hierarchy would inevitably prove unwilling to nurture their own party associations in Northern Ireland as this “integrationist” project ran precisely counter to their own longstanding political ambitions for the region. This conflict of interests and intentions would in short order ensure the demise in all but name of the Northern Irish Conservatives. There can be few more dramatic illustrations of the mutual distrust that conjoins Ulster unionists and the British state than the string of lost deposits incurred by Conservative candidates running for office in Northern Ireland.

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Ulster unionism; Northern Ireland; Anglo-Irish Agreement; British Conservatism; electoral integrationism;
Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Sociology
Item ID: 8984
Identification Number: 10.1080/09670882.2015.1077826
Depositing User: Colin Coulter
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2017 15:24
Journal or Publication Title: Irish Studies Review
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
Refereed: Yes
URI:

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