“We’re socialists not nationalists”: British labour and the national question(s)

Coree Brown Swan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)
58 Downloads (Pure)


The UK Labour Party, which in government delivered devolution to Scotland and Wales, has struggled to adapt to a multilevel and increasingly territorialised political space, where demands for significant territorial reform grow ever louder. These challenges intensified with the Scottish independence referendum and the UK’s exit from the European Union. During this prolonged constitutional moment, the Labour Party has had to articulate the case for a plurinational and multicultural British identity and for the Union, and to a large degree, struggled to do so. Capturing the period from 2012 to 2020, this article examines the discursive strategies adopted by the Labour Party and individuals within it. It identifies a deep discomfort, more pronounced in London and Edinburgh than in Cardiff, with the national questions and a reliance on largely instrumental arguments, albeit ones rooted in traditional left-wing values of welfare, the pooling and sharing of resources, and social solidarity between working people.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)467-481
Number of pages15
JournalNations and Nationalism
Issue number2
Early online date17 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023


  • British politics
  • Labour Party
  • left and nationalism
  • nationhood/national identity
  • secession
  • Political Science and International Relations
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • General Medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Political Science and International Relations


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