The Tories after 1997
Editors: Mark Garnett and Philip Lynch

The Conservative Party's survival as a significant political force was now open to serious question for the first time since the crisis over the Corn Laws. The Labour Party has commanded a fairly consistent level of attention, whether in office or in opposition. But it seems that the Conservatives are fated to be regarded either as unavoidable or irrelevant. This book presents an analysis that suggests that the party leader plays a less important role in Conservative recoveries than a distinctive policy programme and an effective party organization. It examines the Conservative position on a series of key issues, highlighting the difficult dilemmas which confronted the party after 1997, notably on economic policy. New Labour's acceptance of much of the main thrust of Thatcherite economic policy threw the Conservatives off balance. The pragmatism of this new position and the 'In Europe, not run by Europe' platform masked a significant move towards Euro-skepticism. The book also traces how the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Parties adapted to the creation of the Scottish Parliament, exploring the re-organisation of the Scottish party, its electoral fortunes and political prospects in the new Scottish politics. It examines issues of identity and nationhood in Conservative politics in the 1997-2001 period, focusing on the 'English Question' and the politics of 'race'. The predictable results of the Conservatives' failure to develop an attractive, consistent narrative are then analysed. Right-wing populist parties with charismatic leaders enjoyed some electoral success under the proportional representation systems in 2002.

Peter Dorey

7 Peter Dorey Conservative policy under Hague Conservative policy under Hague Peter Dorey The Tories have published any number of pre-manifesto documents, only to rip them up and start all over again in the manner of a panic-stricken student sitting an exam that he knows he will fail.1 The Conservative Party encountered considerable difficulty in crafting a coherent package of policies once in opposition after the 1997 election defeat. Much of this difficulty derived from the ideological uncertainty which afflicted the Conservative Party during this period

in The Conservatives in Crisis
Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart

4 Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart The Conservative parliamentary party The Conservative parliamentary party Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart 1 When the Conservative Party gathered for its first party conference since the 1997 general election, they came to bury the parliamentary party, not to praise it. The preceding five years had seen the party lose its (long-enjoyed) reputation for unity, and the blame for this was laid largely at the feet of the party’s parliamentarians.2 As Peter Riddell noted in The Times, ‘speaker after speaker was loudly cheered whenever

in The Conservatives in Crisis
From disaster to devolution and beyond
Peter Lynch

9 Peter Lynch The Scottish Conservatives, 1997–2001 The Scottish Conservatives, 1997–2001: from disaster to devolution and beyond Peter Lynch William Hague’s four years of leadership of the Conservative Party coincided with a revolution in the political opportunity structure of Scottish Conservatism. First, the Scotish Tories were wiped out at the 1997 general election, their worst electoral performance of all time and their lowest share of the vote since 1865. Second, the party’s constitutional position was heavily defeated at the devolution referendum of

in The Conservatives in Crisis
A comparative analysis
Stuart Ball

1 Stuart Ball The Conservatives in opposition, 1906–79 The Conservatives in opposition, 1906–79: a comparative analysis Stuart Ball The experience of being in opposition for a lengthy period is not one which the modern Conservative Party is used to, and it has tended to find it difficult. Since the 1880s, the Conservatives have grown accustomed to being seen – and to see themselves – as the party of government. They have been in office for so much of the period that exercising power has seemed to be the natural state of affairs, and this adds to Conservative

in The Conservatives in Crisis
Philip Lynch

10 Philip Lynch Nationhood and identity Nationhood and identity in Conservative politics Philip Lynch Identification with the nation and nation state has been a central theme in Conservative politics for over a century. The party’s status as a patriotic party safeguarding the constitution, Union and, for much of its history, the Empire was an important factor in its political success. The appeal of the Conservative politics of nationhood rested upon three main pillars: (i) a coherent vision of nationhood and conservative state patriotism; (ii) effective use of

in The Conservatives in Crisis
Philip Lynch

8 Philip Lynch The Conservatives and Europe, 1997–2001 The Conservatives and Europe, 1997–2001 Philip Lynch As Conservatives reflected on the 1997 general election, they could agree that the issue of Britain’s relationship with the European Union (EU) was a significant factor in their defeat. But they disagreed over how and why ‘Europe’ had contributed to the party’s demise. Euro-sceptics blamed John Major’s European policy. For Euro-sceptics, Major had accepted developments in the European Union that ran counter to the Thatcherite defence of the nation state

in The Conservatives in Crisis
A party in crisis?
Ian Taylor MP

Commentary 3 Ian Taylor MP The Conservatives, 1997–2001 The Conservatives, 1997–2001: a party in crisis? Ian Taylor MP 1 Coming out of the worst election defeat since the Liberal landslide of 1906, there was a remarkable sense of optimism amongst Conservatives in the summer of 1997. People felt that the party could not go any lower; that the nadir of our misfortunes had been reached. The difficulties of the Blair government in its first few months created a feeling that it might not be long before we would return to government. John Major made this point in

in The Conservatives in Crisis
Lord Parkinson

Commentary 1 Lord Parkinson The reform of the Conservative Party The reform of the Conservative Party Lord Parkinson When William Hague appeared on the platform at the 2001 Conservative Party conference, he was greeted by a wave of sympathy which extended far beyond the audience at Blackpool. This was more than the usual reaction to a plucky underdog: it was a well-deserved testimony to the dignity which had marked William’s conduct since the 2001 general election. Perhaps the public had begun to appreciate some of William’s qualities. The pity is that the

in The Conservatives in Crisis
Open Access (free)
The Conservatives in crisis
Philip Lynch and Mark Garnett

Philip Lynch and Mark Garnett Conclusions Conclusions: the Conservatives in crisis Philip Lynch and Mark Garnett Recent British political history has been, to borrow Labour Chancellor Gordon Brown’s beloved phrase, one of ‘Tory boom and bust’. The change in the fortunes of the Conservative Party since 1992 is remarkable. Holding office alone or in coalition for two-thirds of the twentieth century, the Conservatives were considered the ‘natural party of government’. Even when they met serious setbacks in 1945, 1964 and 1974 (twice), they managed a rapid return

in The Conservatives in Crisis