West of Scotland industrial and commercial elites and their social, political and economic influence in the inter-war years

Mackenzie, Angus (2013) West of Scotland industrial and commercial elites and their social, political and economic influence in the inter-war years. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Abstract

Scotland struggled to come to terms with the collapse in the heavy industries in the early 1920s and the prolonged period of economic dislocation which followed. The pervasive sense that this was a nation in decline sapped self-confidence. This thesis examines the response of the leading West of Scotland industrialists to the extended inter-war trade depression. Focusing on their championing of a series of self-help initiatives firmly rooted in Scotland itself, the thesis reimagines Graeme Morton’s work on Unionist Nationalism for the more challenging conditions of 1930s Scotland, introducing a much stronger economic dimension to Morton’s original argument. Echoing Morton, the rationalisation of the staple industries and the creation of new institutions to aid recovery owed much to the associational culture of West of Scotland business. The Scottish National Development Council and the Scottish Economic Committee - two significant stepping-stones in the rise of corporatist planning - represented a confident assertion of a distinctly Scottish voice and provided a link between business and the increasingly autonomous Scottish Office. The explicit articulation of a Scottish national interest within the parameters of the existing union and imperial relationships sat easily with the progressive, pro-statist views of many inter-war Unionists, helping to consolidate the consensus within ‘middle opinion’. The thesis focuses on the actions of a trio of West of Scotland industrialists: Lord Weir of Eastwood, Sir James Lithgow and Sir Steven Bilsland. It will be suggested that their advocacy of Scottish solutions for Scottish problems represents a more muscular and far-reaching economic Unionist Nationalism which transcends the narrow vision of Morton’s nineteenth century urban Scotland, but also questions Colin Kidd’s dismissal of early twentieth century unionism as ‘banal’.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: inter-war; depression; diversification; unionism; nationalism; elites; Scotland; Scottish; shipbuilding; steel
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > History
Funder's Name: UNSPECIFIED
Supervisor's Name: Macdonald, Dr. Catriona and Ross, Dr. Duncan
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Mr Angus A M Mackenzie
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-5033
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 19 Mar 2014 14:38
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2017 08:58
URI: http://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/5033

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