Queen's Policy Engagement

Election 2024: the view from the UK’s most marginal constituency

Article originally appeared in The Conversation.

Election 2024: the view from the UK’s most marginal constituency

Speaking about Northern Ireland in 1922, Winston Churchill expressed bewilderment that the radical transformation that had taken place across Europe as a result of the first world war had done nothing to change the basic terms of dispute in the region:

Great Empires have been overturned. The whole map of Europe has been changed … The modes of thought of men, the whole outlook on affairs … all have encountered violent and tremendous changes in the deluge of the world, but as the deluge subsides and the waters fall short we see the dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone emerging once again. The integrity of their quarrel is one of the few institutions that has been unaltered in the cataclysm which has swept the world.

More than 100 years on, and following the convulsions of Brexit, a global pandemic, and the return of war in Europe, Churchill might have said much the same on Northern Ireland. And what he termed the “dreary steeples of Fermanagh and Tyrone” remain a focal point in the 2024 election. That’s because Fermanagh and South Tyrone is the most marginal constituency in the UK. It was won by Sinn Féin in 2019 with a majority of just 57 votes and will again be closely fought between the incumbent party and the Ulster Unionist Party (UUP). The race epitomises the political struggle at play in Northern Ireland.

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Article originally appeared in The Conversation. 


The featured image has been used courtesy of a Creative Commons license.  

Dr Peter McLoughlin
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Dr Peter McLoughlin is a senior lecturer in the School of History, Anthropology, Philosophy and Politics at Queen's University Belfast. His research interests include Irish history and politics, with particular emphasis on British-Irish relations and the Northern Ireland problem.

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