The Three 'Mantras': 'Modernization' and the Conservative Party 1945-2005

Denham, Andrew and O'Hara, Kieron (2007) The Three 'Mantras': 'Modernization' and the Conservative Party 1945-2005 British Politics

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This article examines British Conservatism and ‘modernization’, principally between 1945 and 2005. It argues that Conservative ‘modernization’ in opposition has typically embraced three key elements: leadership, policy and organization. The precise nature of ‘modernization’ has differed in each opposition period, and with mixed results. From 1945-79, it ‘worked’, at least to the extent that the Party returned to power within a few years; even so, ‘modernization’ per se was not enough. Conversely, the period from 1997 to 2005 was one of ‘failed modernization’. Yet, while this may have adversely affected the Party’s performance in the 2001 and 2005 General Elections, there are good reasons to suppose it would have been defeated anyway. The paper then reviews the Conservative leadership election of 2005, in which three of the contenders offered different accounts of what ‘modernization’ should entail. It concludes that there is (still) no consensus in the Party on this vital question; that David Cameron's ‘modernization project’ is by no means assured of ultimate victory in the Party; and that ‘modernization’ per se is unlikely to deliver a Conservative victory at the next General Election.

Item Type: Article
ISSNs: 1746-918X (print)
Keywords: Conservatism, Modernization, Conservative Party history
Organisations: Web & Internet Science
ePrint ID: 263473
Date :
Date Event
Date Deposited: 17 Feb 2007
Last Modified: 17 Apr 2017 19:52
Further Information:Google Scholar

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