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Title: Unionist politics, the Belfast shipyards and the Labour Movement in the inter-war period.
Author: Norton, C.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3449 7797
Awarding Body: New University of Ulster
Current Institution: Ulster University
Date of Award: 1987
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This thesis looks at developments within Unionist and Labour politics in Ulster during the period 1920 to the early 1930's. In particular it seeks to explain why the Protestant working class accepted the leadership of a politically conservative Unionist Party, why it supported the Northern Ireland State, and why it rejected independent socialist politics. These actions have, in numerous accounts of Northern Ireland's Labour history, been characterised as 'irrational' or 'reactionary' and have been explained in terms of 'manipulation', 'privilege', 'sectarianism' or through the notion of the 'labour aristocracy'. Rejecting these forms of characterisation and blanket explanation as empirically unfounded, this thesis undertakes a detailed analysis of what is generally accepted as the most politically significant section of the Protestant working class: the Belfast shipyard workers. The thesis emphasises the heterogeneous nature of the workforce which is shown to be not only occupationally but also politically and ideologically based. It also outlines within the shipyard workforce, the existence of two contrasting and competing political and ideological traditions which can be designated 'sectarian' and 'labour and trade union'. The dominance of sectarian ideological traditions and political practices in the shipyards in 1920 (most visibly demonstrated in the July expulsions of that year) and their effects on the workforce and on the Unionist political leadership are dealt with at some length. The thesis also examines how the policies of the Northern Ireland State, after its establishment in 1921, were affected by Protestant middle class and working class non-sectarian traditions. This appreciation of the complexity of Unionist politics allows for a greater understanding of Government policy decisions of the time and the divisions that they caused within the State. Finally the thesis analyses the political organisations of the Left in order to determine the reasons for their failure to attract appreciable working class support.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Belfast shipworker politics