Scotland, Britain, Europe: parallels with Eighteenth-Century political debate

Brown, R. (2018) Scotland, Britain, Europe: parallels with Eighteenth-Century political debate. Scottish Affairs, 27(1), pp. 54-62. (doi: 10.3366/scot.2018.0223)

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This article focuses on the controversial eighteenth-century Whig politician, John Wilkes (1725-97), his journalism and his reception in the Scottish periodical press, while considering parallels with current debates on Brexit and Scottish independence. Wilkes, seen by some at the time as a notorious rabble-rouser and a voracious Scotophobe, was nevertheless elected democratically (an unusual phenomenon at this time) to various political offices while campaigning for the freedom of the press. His outspoken attacks on the Scottish Prime Minister, Lord Bute, and associated insults to Scotland, prompted an angry response in the Scottish press and magnified the political divide between Scotland and England. If Wilkes represented ‘liberty’ to many English Whigs, he symbolised outspoken prejudice to many in Scotland. The article will examine some of Wilkes’s own pronouncements on the Scots in his North Briton magazine, alongside responses in the contemporary Scottish periodical press. The debates that Wilkes focuses on – Scotland’s so-called ‘rebellious’ nature and its unhelpful attachment to continental Europe – resonate with twenty-first-century political debates in illuminating ways.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Brown, Dr Rhona
Authors: Brown, R.
Subjects:D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0441 Literary History
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > Scottish Literature
Journal Name:Scottish Affairs
Publisher:Edinburgh University Press
ISSN (Online):2053-888X
Published Online:01 January 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Edinburgh University Press
First Published:First published in Scottish Affairs 2017
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the publisher copyright policy

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