This chapter sets the scene by tracing the evolution of the United Kingdom between the 1530s and 1922, while putting the terms ‘Unionist’ and ‘Nationalist’ into historical context. It goes on to discuss theories of unionism, including James Mitchell’s description of the UK as ‘a state of unions’ and Jim Bulpitt’s concept of a ‘territorial code’ managed by the Conservative and Unionist Party during the 20th century. Graeme Morton’s phrase ‘unionist nationalism’ is then introduced to emphasise that unionism and nationalism have long existed on a spectrum rather than as polar opposites. There is also a discussion of nationalism in its ‘civic’ or ‘cultural’ forms.
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