Win or bust

The leadership gamble of William Hague

in The Conservatives in Crisis

Writing in 1977, Conservative MP Nigel Fisher identified 'two qualifying conditions' for Tory leaders: 'a lengthy spell in Parliament and considerable Cabinet experience'. Before the advent of economic liberalism the Tory Party believed in hierarchy, so it was hardly a surprise that its members should place special emphasis on the leadership role. William Hague had good reason to be petrified of Margaret Thatcher, who during the leadership campaign had saddled him with what was perhaps the least welcome endorsement in British political history. John Redwood's supporters underlined the resemblance during the leadership campaign, referring to Hague as 'John Major with A levels'. Lord Parkinson rightly praises Hague's reorganisation of his party. No one can argue that Hague was an electoral asset to his party.

The Conservatives in Crisis

The Tories after 1997

Editors: Mark Garnett and Philip Lynch

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