An examination of the internal party debate over the need for ‘modernisation’ within the Conservative Party 1997-2015

Kiley, R. (2017) An examination of the internal party debate over the need for ‘modernisation’ within the Conservative Party 1997-2015. M.A. thesis, Canterbury Christ Church University.

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Abstract

When Conservative MPs took their seats on the opposition benches in 1997 the Party stood at a crossroads. The Party had spent eighteen years in government, relying on the successes of its neo-liberal economic policies as a way to garner support. However, the rise of Tony Blair and New Labour’s adoption of Conservative policies appeared to mean that the Conservative Party had to 'modernise' if it wanted to present itself as a government in waiting. This was not a simple task. Following the resignation of Margaret Thatcher in 1990 the party's factions grew further apart and more restless. Some on the right of the party wanted to stay true to the principles that had made them the dominant party of British politics in the 1980’s, others wanted to see the party pursue a modern set of policies.

In this dissertation, I argue that throughout this period the term 'modernisation' was used by successive leaders of the Conservative Party as political rhetoric in an attempt to solve the internal divisions that had prevented the Party making ground on the successes of New Labour. The conflict brought into question the relationship the Parliamentary Party had with the membership with the reforms that resulted in Ian Duncan Smith’s victory in 2001. It was not until David Cameron assume the leadership in 2005 that there were successful strides towards modernising the Party. Up until the hiring of Lynton Crosby the political language and policies showed that Cameron prioritised social reform and wanted to break the perception that the Conservatives were the ‘nasty party’. This dissertation will examine the impact Cameron had in constructing the coalition programme and the reasons why Crosby forced Cameron to back down on modernisation and focus on economic issues and the promise of a European referendum.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: J Political Science
Divisions: Faculty of Arts and Humanities > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Miss Rosemary Cox
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2018 10:30
Last Modified: 20 Feb 2018 06:24
URI: https://create.canterbury.ac.uk/id/eprint/16943

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00