HOME

TheInfoList




The Conservative Party, officially the Conservative and Unionist Party, and also known colloquially as the Tories, Tory Party, or simply the Conservatives, is a political party in the United Kingdom. The Conservatives sit on the
centre-right Centre-right politics (British English) or center-right politics (American English), also referred to as moderate-right politics, lean to the Right-wing politics, right of the Left–right politics, political spectrum, but are closer to the Centr ...
of the political spectrum. The Conservatives formed a fixed term coalition government with the Liberal Democrats from
2010 2010 was designated as: * * * *International Year for the Rapprochement of Cultures Pronunciation There is a debate among experts and the general public on how to pronounce specific years of the 21st century in English. The year 2010 is pr ...
–2015. Following the 2015 election, the Conservatives formed a Government with a 12-seat majority. A snap general election in 2017 meant they held power without an overall majority until
2019 2019 was designated as International Year of the Periodic table, Periodic Table of Chemical Elements by the United Nations General Assembly given that it coincides with the 150th anniversary of its creation by Dmitri Mendeleev in 1869. Event ...
, when they regained an overall majority in the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporat ...

House of Commons
, with 365
Members of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative of the people who live in their constituency An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) p ...
. The party also has 258 appointed members of the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
, 9 members of the
London Assembly The London Assembly is a 25-member elected body, part of the Greater London Authority The Greater London Authority (GLA), known colloquially as City Hall, is the devolved regional governance body of London London is the capital city, c ...
, 31 members of the
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; Scots language, Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, Unicameralism, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood, Edinburgh, Holyro ...

Scottish Parliament
, 16 members of the
Senedd The Senedd (; ), officially known as the Welsh Parliament in English language, English and () in Welsh language, Welsh, is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, unicameral legislature of Wales. A democratically elected body, it makes ...

Senedd
(Welsh Parliament) and 7,521 local authority councillors. The Conservative Party was founded in 1834 from the
Tory Party The Tories were a political faction Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or stat ...
and was one of two dominant political parties in the 19th century, along with the
Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, ...
. Under
Benjamin Disraeli Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, (21 December 1804 – 19 April 1881), was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is e ...

Benjamin Disraeli
, it played a preeminent role in politics at the height of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
. In 1912, the
Liberal Unionist Party The Liberal Unionist Party was a British political party that was formed in 1886 by a faction that broke away from the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party. Led by Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, Lord Hartington (later the Duke of Devonshi ...
merged with the party to form the Conservative and Unionist Party. Following this, the
Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Argentina *Labour Party (Argentina) Armenia ...
became the Conservatives' main rival. To this day, the Labour and Conservative parties constitute the two most significant parties in the UK. Positioned on the centre-right of the British political spectrum, the Conservative Party is ideologically conservative. Various factions have dominated the party at different times, including one nation conservatives, Thatcherites, liberal conservatives and conservative liberals. Furthermore, there are influential factions of
social conservatives Social conservatism is a political philosophy and variety of conservatism which places emphasis on traditional power structures over Cultural pluralism, social pluralism. Social conservatism in North America rose in the early 19th century as ...
and
eurosceptics Euroscepticism, also known as EU-scepticism, means criticism of the European Union (EU) and European integration. It ranges from those who oppose some EU institutions and policies and seek reform (Eurorealism, Eurocritical or #Soft Eurosceptic ...
. While its views and policies have changed throughout its history, the party has generally adopted liberal economic policies favouring
free market In economics Economics () is a social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of pl ...
economics including measures such as
deregulation Deregulation is the process of removing or reducing state regulations, typically in the economic sphere. It is the repeal of governmental regulation of the economy. It became common in advanced industrial economies in the 1970s and 1980s, as a r ...
,
privatisation Privatization (or privatisation in British English) can mean different things including moving something from the public sector into the private sector. It is also sometimes used as a synonym for deregulation when a heavily regulated private compa ...
, and
marketisation Marketisation or marketization is a restructuring process that enables state enterprises to operate as market-oriented firms by changing the legal environment in which they operate. This is achieved through reduction of state subsidies, organizati ...
since the 1980s, although the party also historically advocated for
protectionism Protectionism is the economic policy of restricting imports from other countries through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, import quotas, and a variety of other government regulations. Proponents argue that protectionist policies sh ...
. The party is British unionist, opposing a
united Ireland United Ireland, also referred to as Irish reunification, is the proposition that all of the island of Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is ...
,
Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family native to Scotland *Scottish English *Scottish national identity, the Scottish iden ...
and
Welsh independence Welsh independence ( cy, Annibyniaeth i Gymru) is a political movement supporting Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a country that is Countries of the United Kingdom, part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England b ...
, and has been critical of
devolution Devolution is the statutory A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislature, legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, State (polity), state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or p ...
. Historically, the party supported the continuance and maintenance of the
British Empire The British Empire was composed of the dominions, Crown colony, colonies, protectorates, League of Nations mandate, mandates, and other Dependent territory, territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom and its predecessor states. ...

British Empire
. The party has taken various approaches towards policy on the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
(EU). There are eurosceptic and, to an increasingly lesser extent,
pro-European Pro-Europeanism, sometimes called European Unionism, is a political position that favours European integration and membership of the European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of Member state of the European ...
factions of the party. In recent years, the party has embraced a strongly eurosceptic position, with the party adopting the slogan "Get
Brexit Brexit (; a portmanteau of "British exit") was the Withdrawal from the European Union, withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom) at 23:00 31 January 2020 Green ...

Brexit
Done" following the decision to leave the EU in a
referendum A referendum (plural: referendums or less commonly referenda) is a direct Direct may refer to: Mathematics * Directed set In mathematics Mathematics (from Ancient Greek, Greek: ) includes the study of such topics as quantity (number th ...
held under the Conservative Cameron government. On social policy, it has historically taken a more
socially conservative Social conservatism is a political philosophy Political philosophy is the philosophical study of government, addressing questions about the nature, scope, and legitimacy of public agents and institutions and the relationships between them. ...
approach including implementing
Section 28 Section 28 or Clause 28While going through Parliament, the amendment was constantly relabelled with a variety of clause numbers as other amendments were added to or deleted from the Bill (proposed law), Bill, but by the final version of the Bil ...
and generally maintaining Sunday blue laws. However, it is argued that its social policy has become more liberal in recent decades, perhaps evidenced by the legalisation of same-sex marriage under the Conservative– Liberal Democrat Cameron-Clegg coalition in 2014, the lifting of the ban on
women in combat Women in combat are female military personnel Military personnel are members of the state's armed forces. Their roles, pay, and obligations differ according to their military branch ( army, navy, marines Marines or naval infantry, are typic ...
roles in the military in 2016 under the Cameron government and the legalisation of medical cannabis in 2018 under the
second May ministry The second May ministry was formed on 11 June 2017 after Theresa May Theresa Mary, Lady May (; ; born 1 October 1956) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party from 2 ...
. In defence policy, it favours a strong military capability including an independent nuclear weapons programme and commitment to
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance A military alliance is a formal agreement betwe ...
membership. The party's support base has historically consisted primarily of middle class voters, especially in rural and suburban areas of England. Since the EU referendum, the Conservatives have also shifted to targeting working class voters in traditionally Labour supporting areas. Its domination of British politics throughout the 20th century and its re-emergence in the 2010s has led to it being referred to as one of the most successful political parties in the Western world. The
London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or more formally ''majuscule'') and smaller lowerc ...
,
Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family native to Scotland *Scottish English *Scottish national identity, the Scottish iden ...
,
Welsh Welsh may refer to: Related to Wales * Welsh, referring or related to Wales * Welsh language, a Brittonic Celtic language of the Indo-European language family, indigenous to the British Isles, spoken in Wales ** Patagonian Welsh, a dialect of Wels ...
and
Northern Irish Northern Irish people is a demonym for all people born in Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots: ') is #Descriptions, variously described as a country, province, or region which ...
branches of the party are semi-autonomous. The Conservatives are a founding member party of both the
International Democrat Union The International Democrat Union (IDU) is an international alliance of right-of-centre Centre-right politics (British English) or center-right politics (American English), also referred to as moderate-right politics, lean to the Right-win ...

International Democrat Union
and the
European Conservatives and Reformists Party The European Conservatives and Reformists Party (ECR Party), formerly known as Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) (2009–2016) and Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) (2016–2019), is a conservative ...
.


History


Origins

The Conservative Party was created in the 1830s by
Robert Peel Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative statesman who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1834–1835 and 1841–1846) simultaneously serving as Cha ...

Robert Peel
. However, some writers trace its origins to the
Tory Party The Tories were a political faction Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions in groups, or other forms of power relations between individuals, such as the distribution of resources or stat ...
which it soon replaced, the name of which had originated as an insult in the reign of in the 1670s
Exclusion Crisis The Exclusion Crisis ran from 1679 until 1681 in the reign of King Charles II of England, Charles II of England, Scotland and Ireland. Three Exclusion bills sought to exclude the King's brother and heir presumptive, James II of England, James, Duk ...
. Other historians point to a faction, rooted in the 18th century Whig Party, that coalesced around
William Pitt the Younger William Pitt the Younger (28 May 175923 January 1806) was a prominent Tory A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the st ...

William Pitt the Younger
in the 1780s. They were known as "Independent Whigs", " Friends of Mr Pitt", or "Pittites" and never used terms such as "Tory" or "Conservative". Pitt died in 1806. From about 1812 on the name "Tory" was commonly used for a new party that, according to historian Robert Blake, "are the ancestors of Conservatism". Blake adds that Pitt's successors after 1812 "were not in any sense standard-bearers of 'true Toryism'". The term "Conservative" was suggested as a title for the party by a magazine article by J. Wilson Croker in the ''Quarterly Review'' in 1830. The name immediately caught on and was formally adopted under the aegis of
Robert Peel Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative statesman who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1834–1835 and 1841–1846) simultaneously serving as Cha ...

Robert Peel
around 1834. Peel is acknowledged as the founder of the Conservative Party, which he created with the announcement of the
Tamworth ManifestoThe Tamworth Manifesto was a political manifesto issued by Sir Robert Peel in 1834 in Tamworth, which is widely credited by historians as having laid down the principles upon which the modern British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party is ba ...
. The term "Conservative Party" rather than Tory was the dominant usage by 1845.


Conservatives and Unionists (1867–1914)

The widening of the electoral franchise in the 19th century forced the Conservative Party to popularise its approach under
Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby Edward George Geoffrey Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby, (29 March 1799 – 23 October 1869) was a three-time Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of gove ...

Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby
and
Benjamin Disraeli Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, (21 December 1804 – 19 April 1881), was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is e ...
, who carried through their own expansion of the franchise with the Reform Act of 1867. In 1886, the party formed an alliance with Spencer Compton Cavendish, Lord Hartington (later the 8th
Duke of Devonshire Duke of Devonshire is a Hereditary title, title in the Peerage of England held by members of the House of Cavendish, Cavendish family. This (now the senior) branch of the Cavendish family has been one of the wealthiest British aristocratic famil ...
) and
Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Liberal, then, after opposing home rule for Ireland, a Liberal Unionist, and eventually served as a leading new Imperialism, imp ...

Joseph Chamberlain
's new
Liberal Unionist Party The Liberal Unionist Party was a British political party that was formed in 1886 by a faction that broke away from the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party. Led by Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, Lord Hartington (later the Duke of Devonshi ...
and, under the statesmen and
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
, held power for all but three of the following twenty years before suffering a heavy defeat in 1906 when it split over the issue of
free trade Free trade is a trade policy A commercial policy (also referred to as a trade policy or international trade policy) is a government's policy governing international trade International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and servic ...
. Historian Richard Shannon argues that while Salisbury presided over one of the longest periods of Tory dominance, he misinterpreted and mishandled his election successes. Salisbury's blindness to the middle class and reliance on the aristocracy prevented the Conservatives from becoming a majority party. Historian E. H. H. Green argues that after Salisbury's retirement the Party was ideologically driven and resembled a broader European conservatism. After its defeat in 1906, a radical conservatism emerged that sought to promote "tariff reform" (that is high new tariffs) to unite the British Empire and protect British agriculture and industry from foreign competition and head off the threat of socialism. Young
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
denounced Chamberlain's attack on free trade, and helped organise the opposition inside the Unionist/Conservative Party. Nevertheless, Balfour, as party leader, followed Chamberlain's policy introduced protectionist legislation. The high tariff element called itself "Tariff Reformers" and in a major speech in Manchester on 13 May 1904, Churchill warned their takeover of the Unionist/Conservative party would permanently brand it as follows: :A party of great vested interests, banded together in a formidable confederation; corruption at home, aggression to cover it up abroad; the trickery of tariff juggles, the tyranny of a party machine; sentiment by the bucketful; patriotism by the imperial pint; the open hand at the public exchequer, the open door at the public-house; dear food for the million, cheap labour for the millionaire. Two weeks later, Churchill crossed the floor and formally joined the Liberal Party (he rejoined the Conservatives in 1925). In December, Balfour lost control of his party, as the defections multiplied. He was replaced by Liberal Prime Minister
Henry Campbell-Bannerman Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (7 September 183622 April 1908) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1905 to 1908 and Liberal Party (UK)#Liberal leaders 1859–1988, Leader of the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party from 1899 to 1908. He al ...
who called an election in January 1906, which produced a massive Liberal victory with a gain of 214 seats. Liberal Prime Minister
H. H. Asquith Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, (12 September 1852 – 15 February 1928), generally known as H. H. Asquith, was a British statesman and Liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liber ...
enacted a great deal of reform legislation, but the Unionists worked hard at grassroots organizing. Two general elections were held in 1910, one in January and one in December. The two main parties were now almost dead equal in seats. The Unionists had more popular votes but the Liberals kept control with a coalition with the
Irish Parliamentary Party The Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP; commonly called the Irish Party or the Home Rule Party) was formed in 1874 by Isaac Butt Isaac Butt (6 September 1813 – 5 May 1879) was an Irish barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common ...
. In 1912, the Liberal Unionists merged with the Conservative Party. In Ireland, the
Irish Unionist Alliance The Irish Unionist Alliance (IUA), also known as the Irish Unionist Party or simply the Unionists, was a unionist political party founded in Ireland Ireland (; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the North Atl ...
had been formed in 1891 which merged Unionists who were opposed to Irish Home Rule into one political movement. Its MPs took the Conservative whip at Westminster, and in essence, formed the Irish wing of the party until 1922. In Britain, the Conservative party was known as the Unionist Party because of its opposition to
home rule Home rule is government of a colony, dependent country, or region by its own citizens. It is thus the power of a part (administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative ...

home rule
in
Ireland Ireland ( ; ga, Éire ; Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots: ) is an island in the Atlantic Ocean, North Atlantic. It is separated from Great Britain to its east by the North Channel (Great Britain and Ireland), North Channel, the Irish Sea ...
. Under
Bonar Law Andrew Bonar Law (; 16 September 1858 – 30 October 1923) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second hig ...
's leadership in 1911–14, the Party morale improved, the "radical right" wing was contained, and the party machinery strengthened. It made some progress toward developing constructive social policies. Historian Jeremy Smith says Bonar Law was pushing hard—certainly blustering and threatening, and perhaps bluffing—but in the end his strategy proved both coherent and effective.


First World War

While the
Liberals Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...
were mostly against the war until the invasion of Belgium, Conservative leaders were strongly in favour of aiding France and stopping Germany. The Liberal party was in full control of the government until its mismanagement of the war effort under the Shell Crisis badly hurt its reputation. An all-party coalition government was formed in May 1915. In late 1916 Liberal
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was a British statesman and Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinat ...

David Lloyd George
became prime minister but the Liberals soon split and the Conservatives dominated the government, especially after their . The Liberal party never recovered, but
Labour Labour or labor may refer to: * Childbirth Childbirth, also known as labour or delivery, is the ending of pregnancy where one or more babies leaves the uterus by passing through the vagina or by Caesarean section. In 2015, there were about 13 ...
gained strength after 1920. Nigel Keohane finds that the Conservatives were bitterly divided before 1914, especially on the issue of Irish Unionism and the experience of three consecutive election losses. However the war pulled the party together, allowing it to emphasise patriotism as it found new leadership and worked out its positions on the Irish question, socialism, electoral reform, and the issue of intervention in the economy. The fresh emphasis on anti-Socialism was its response to the growing strength of the Labour Party. When electoral reform was an issue, it worked to protect their base in rural England. It aggressively sought female voters in the 1920s, often relying on patriotic themes.


1920–1945

In 1922,
Bonar Law Andrew Bonar Law (; 16 September 1858 – 30 October 1923) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second hig ...
and
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, (3 August 186714 December 1947) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and ...
led the breakup of the coalition, and the Conservatives governed until 1923, when a minority Labour government led by
Ramsay MacDonald James Ramsay MacDonald (; 12 October 18669 November 1937) was the first Prime Minister of the United Kingdom who belonged to the Labour Party (UK), Labour Party, leading Minority government, minority Labour governments for First MacDonald mini ...

Ramsay MacDonald
came to power. The Conservatives regained power in 1924 and remained in power for the full five-year term. They were defeated in 1929 as a minority Labour government, again led by MacDonald, took office. In 1931, following the collapse of the Labour minority government, it entered another coalition, which was dominated by the Conservatives with some support from factions of both the Liberal Party and the Labour Party ( National Labour and National Liberals). In May 1940, a more balanced coalition was formed, the National Government, which, under the leadership of
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
, saw the United Kingdom through World War II. However, the party lost the 1945 general election in a landslide to the resurgent
Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Argentina *Labour Party (Argentina) Armenia ...
, which won their first-ever majority government. The concept of the "property-owning democracy" was coined by Noel Skelton in 1923 and became a core principle of the party.Matthew Francis, "A Crusade to Enfranchise the Many': Thatcherism and the 'Property-Owning Democracy." ''Twentieth Century British History'' (2011)


1945–1963


Popular dissatisfaction

While serving in Opposition during the late 1940s, the Conservative Party exploited and incited growing public anger at
food rationing Rationing is the controlled distribution of scarce resources, goods, services, or an artificial restriction of demand. Rationing controls the size of the ration, which is one's allowed portion of the resources being distributed on a particular da ...
, scarcity, controls,
austerity Austerity is a set of political-economic policies that aim to reduce government budget deficits through spending cuts, tax increases, or a combination of both. There are three primary types of austerity measures: higher taxes to fund spending, ...

austerity
, and omnipresent government bureaucracy. It used the dissatisfaction with the
socialist Socialism is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is regarded as the Cognition, cognitive pr ...
and
egalitarian Egalitarianism (), or equalitarianism, is a school of thought within political philosophy that builds from the concept of social equality, prioritizing it for all people. Egalitarian doctrines are generally characterized by the idea that all hu ...
policies of the Labour Party to rally middle-class supporters and build a political comeback that won them the 1951 general election. Their appeal was especially effective to housewives, who faced more difficult shopping conditions after the war than during the war.


Modernising the party

In 1947, the party published its
Industrial Charter ''The Industrial Charter: A Statement of Conservative Industrial Policy'' was a 1947 pamphlet and policy statement by the United Kingdom Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party. The ''Charter'' is widely regarded as representing a seminal moment ...
which marked its acceptance of the "
post-war consensus The post-war consensus is a thesis that describes the political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is reg ...
" on the
mixed economy A mixed economy is variously defined as an economic system An economic system, or economic order, is a system A system is a group of interacting Interaction is a kind of action that occurs as two or more objects have an effect upon ...
and
labour rights Labor rights or workers' rights are both legal rights Natural rights and legal rights are two types of rights. * Natural rights are those that are not dependent on the laws or customs of any particular culture or government, and so are ''u ...
. David Maxwell Fyfe chaired a committee into Conservative Party organisation that resulted in the Maxwell Fyfe Report (1948–49). The report required the party to do more fundraising, by forbidding constituency associations from demanding large donations from candidates, with the intention of broadening the
diversity Diversity, diversify, or diverse may refer to: Business *Diversity (business) The "business case for diversity" stems from the progression of the models of diversity within the workplace since the 1960s. The original model for diversity was situ ...
of MPs. In practice, it may have had the effect of lending more power to
constituency An electoral district, also known as an election district, legislative district, voting district, constituency, riding, ward, division, (election) precinct, electoral area, circumscription, or electorate, is a subdivision of a larger state St ...
parties and making candidates more uniform. The success of the Conservative Party in reorganising itself was validated by its victory at the 1951 general election.
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
, the party leader, brought in a Party chairman to modernise the creaking institution.
Frederick Marquis, 1st Earl of Woolton Frederick James Marquis, 1st Earl of Woolton, (23 August 1883 – 14 December 1964) was an English businessman and statesman. In April 1940, he was appointed Minister of Food, and established the rationing system, generally regarded as a s ...
, was a successful department store owner and wartime Minister of Food. As Party chairman 1946–55, he rebuilt the local organisations with an emphasis on membership, money, and a unified national propaganda appeal on critical issues. To broaden the base of potential candidates, the national party provided financial aid to candidates and assisted the local organisations in raising local money. Woolton emphasised rhetoric that characterised the opponents as "Socialist" rather than "Labour". The
libertarian Libertarianism (from french: libertaire, "libertarian"; from la, libertas, "freedom") is a political philosophy Political philosophy or political theory is the philosophical Philosophy (from , ) is the study of general and funda ...
influence of Professor
Friedrich Hayek Friedrich August von Hayek ( , ; 8 May 189923 March 1992), often referred to by his initials F. A. Hayek, was an Austrian-British economist, and philosopher who is best known for his defence of classical liberalism. Hayek shared the 1974 Nob ...
's 1944 best-seller ''Road to Serfdom'' was apparent in the younger generation, but that took another quarter-century to have a policy impact. By 1951, Labour had worn out its welcome in the middle classes; its factions were bitterly embroiled. Conservatives were ready to govern again. With a narrow victory at the 1951 general election, despite losing the popular vote, Churchill was back in power. Although he was ageing rapidly, he had national and global prestige. Apart from rationing, which was ended in 1954, most of the
welfare state The welfare state is a form of government in which the state (or a well-established network of social institutions) protects and promotes the economic and social well-being of its citizens, based upon the principles of equal opportunity Equal o ...
enacted by Labour were accepted by the Conservatives and became part of the "post-war consensus" that was satirised as
Butskellism The post-war consensus is a thesis that describes the political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other forms of Power (social and political), ...
and that lasted until the 1970s. The Conservatives were conciliatory towards unions, but they did privatise the steel and road haulage industries in 1953. During the Conservatives' thirteen-year tenure in office, pensions went up by 49% in real terms, sickness and unemployment benefits by 76% in real terms, and supplementary benefits by 46% in real terms. However, family allowances fell by 15% in real terms during that period. "Thirteen Wasted Years" was a popular slogan attacking the Conservative record 1951–1964. Criticism came primarily from Labour. In addition, there were attacks by the right wing of the Conservative Party itself for its tolerance of socialist policies and reluctance to curb the legal powers of labour unions, thus making them complicit in the
Post-war consensus The post-war consensus is a thesis that describes the political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is reg ...
. The critics contend that Britain was overtaken by its economic competitors, and was unable to prevent a troublesome wage-price upward spiral. Historian Graham Goodlad calls for taking a longer perspective. He argues that there were significant advances in transport, healthcare, and higher education. It would have been unrealistic to expect that Britain could continue as a world power after the huge expense of the Second World War, and the independence of India and other colonies. Goodlad says the Conservative foreign-policy leadership properly adjusted Britain's world role by building an independent nuclear capacity and maintaining a leading role in world affairs, and anyway successive governments seldom did a better job. The Conservatives were re-elected in
1955 Events January * January 3 Events Pre-1600 * 69 – The Roman legions on the Rhine refuse to declare their allegiance to Galba Galba (; born Servius Sulpicius Galba; 24 December 3 BC – 15 January AD 69) was a Roman emperor ...
and
1959 Events January * January 1 January 1 or 1 January is the first day of the year in the Gregorian Calendar. There are 364 days remaining until the end of the year (365 in leap years). This day is known as New Year's Day since the d ...
with larger majorities. Conservative Prime Ministers
Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highe ...

Churchill
,
Anthony Eden Robert Anthony Eden, 1st Earl of Avon, (12 June 1897 – 14 January 1977), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the ...

Anthony Eden
,
Harold Macmillan Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, (10 February 1894 – 29 December 1986) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nat ...

Harold Macmillan
and
Alec Douglas-Home Alexander Frederick Douglas-Home, Baron Home of the Hirsel, (; 2 July 1903 – 9 October 1995) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of governm ...
promoted relatively liberal trade regulations and less state involvement throughout the 1950s and early-1960s. The
Suez Crisis The Suez Crisis, or the Second Arab–Israeli war, also called the Tripartite Aggression ( ar, العدوان الثلاثي, Al-ʿUdwān aṯ-Ṯulāṯiyy) in the Arab world and the Sinai War in Israel,Also known as the Suez War or 1956 War ...
of 1956 was a humiliating defeat for Prime Minister Eden, but his successor, Macmillan, minimised the damage and focused attention on domestic issues and prosperity. Macmillan boasted during the 1959 general election that Britain had "never had it so good". In 1958,
Geoffrey Howe Richard Edward Geoffrey Howe, Baron Howe of Aberavon, (20 December 1926 – 9 October 2015), known from 1970 to 1992 as Sir Geoffrey Howe, was a British Conservative Conservatism is a Political philosophy, political and social ...

Geoffrey Howe
co-authored the report ''A Giant's Strength'' published by the
Inns of Court The Inns of Court in London are the professional associations for barristers A barrister is a type of lawyer A lawyer or attorney is a person who practices law, as an advocate, attorney at lawAttorney at law or attorney-at-law, usuall ...
Conservative Association. The report argued that the unions had become too powerful and that their legal privileges ought to be curtailed.
Iain Macleod Iain Norman Macleod (11 November 1913 – 20 July 1970) was a British Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) ...

Iain Macleod
discouraged the authors from publicising the report. Macmillan believed that trade union votes had contributed towards the 1951 and 1955 victories and thought that it "would be inexpedient to adopt any policy involving legislation which would alienate this support". Macmillan's bid to join the
European Economic Community The European Economic Community (EEC) was a regional organization and Turkey Turkey ( tr, Türkiye ), officially the Republic of Turkey, is a country straddling Southeastern Europe and Western Asia. It shares borders with Greece ...

European Economic Community
(EEC) in early 1963 was blocked by French President
Charles de Gaulle Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle (; ; 22 November 18909 November 1970) was a French army officer and statesman who led Free France against Nazi Germany in World War II and chaired the Provisional Government of the French Republic from 19 ...
. The period saw the decline of the United Kingdom as a prominent world leader, with the loss of practically the entire
Empire An empire is a "political unit" made up of several territories and peoples, "usually created by conquest, and divided between a dominant center and subordinate peripheries". Narrowly defined, an empire is a sovereign state called an empire and ...

Empire
and a laggard economy. Following controversy over the selections of Harold Macmillan and Alec Douglas-Home via a process of consultation known as the 'Magic Circle', a formal election process was created and the first leadership election was held in 1965. Of the three candidates, Edward Heath won with 150 votes to Reginald Maudling's 133 and
Enoch Powell John Enoch Powell (16 June 1912 – 8 February 1998) was a British politician, classical scholar, author, linguist, soldier, philologist, and poet. He served as a Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Member of Parliament (1950–1974), then U ...
's 15 votes.


Edward Heath (1965–1975)

Edward Heath Sir Edward Richard George Heath (9 July 191617 July 2005) was a British politician who served as from 1970 to 1974 and from 1965 to 1975. Heath also served for 51 years as a from 1950 to 2001. Outside of politics, Heath was a , a musician, ...
's 1970–74 government was known for taking the UK into the EEC, although the right-wing of the party objected to his failure to control the trade unions at a time when a declining British industry saw many strikes, as well as a
recession In economics Economics () is a social science Social science is the Branches of science, branch of science devoted to the study of society, societies and the Social relation, relationships among individuals within those societies. ...
which started in 1973 and lasted for two years. Since accession to the EEC, which developed into the EU, British membership has been a source of heated debate within the Conservative Party. Heath had come to power in June 1970 and the last possible date for the next general election was not until mid-1975. However a general election was held in February 1974 in a bid to win public support during a
national emergency A state of emergency is a situation in which a government is empowered to be able to put through policies that it would normally not be permitted to do, for the safety and protection of its citizens. A government can declare such a state durin ...
caused by the miners' strike. However, Heath's attempt to win a second term in power at this "snap" election failed, as a deadlock result left no party with an overall majority. The Conservatives had more votes than Labour, but Labour had four more seats. Heath resigned within days, after failing to gain
Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, ...
support to form a coalition government, paving the way for
Harold Wilson James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British politician who was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Harold Wilson
and Labour to return to power as a minority government. Heath's hopes of returning to power later in the year were ended when Labour won the October 1974 election with an overall majority of three seats.


Margaret Thatcher (1975–1990)

Loss of power weakened Heath's control over the party and
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either ...

Margaret Thatcher
deposed him in the 1975 leadership election. The UK in the 1970s had seen sustained high inflation rates, which were above 20% at the time of the leadership election, subsequently falling to below 10%; unemployment had risen, and over the winter of 1978–79 there was a series of strikes known as the "
Winter of Discontent The Winter of Discontent was the period from November 1978 to February 1979 in the United Kingdom characterised by widespread strikes by private, and later public, sector trade unions demanding pay rises greater than the limits Prime Minister ...
". Thatcher led her party to victory at the 1979 general election with a manifesto which concentrated on the party's philosophy rather than presenting a "shopping list" of policies. As Prime Minister, Thatcher focused on rejecting the mild liberalism of the
post-war consensus The post-war consensus is a thesis that describes the political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is reg ...
that tolerated or encouraged nationalisation, strong labour unions, heavy regulation, high taxes, and a generous welfare state. She did not challenge the
National Health Service The National Health Service (NHS) is the umbrella term for the publicly funded healthcare systems of the United Kingdom (UK). Since 1948, they have been funded out of general taxation. There are three systems which are referred to using the " ...
, and supported the Cold War policies of the consensus, but otherwise tried to dismantle and delegitimise it. To replace the old post-war consensus, she built a right-wing political ideology that became known as
Thatcherism Thatcherism is a form of British conservative ideology named after Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) ...
, based on social and economic ideas from British and American intellectuals such as
Friedrich Hayek Friedrich August von Hayek ( , ; 8 May 189923 March 1992), often referred to by his initials F. A. Hayek, was an Austrian-British economist, and philosopher who is best known for his defence of classical liberalism. Hayek shared the 1974 Nob ...
and
Milton Friedman Milton Friedman (; July 31, 1912 – November 16, 2006) was an American economist An economist is a practitioner in the social sciences, social science discipline of economics. The individual may also study, develop, and apply theories and c ...

Milton Friedman
. Thatcher believed that too much socially democratic-oriented government policy was leading to a long-term decline in the British economy. As a result, her government pursued a programme of
economic liberalism Economic liberalism (also known as fiscal conservatism in United States politics) is a political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with Decision-making, making decisions in Social group, groups, or other form ...
, adopting a free-market approach to public services based on the sale of publicly owned industries and utilities, as well as a reduction in trade union power. She held the belief that the existing trend of unions was bringing economic progress to a standstill by enforcing "wildcat" strikes, keeping wages artificially high and forcing unprofitable industries to stay open. One of Thatcher's largest and most successful policies assisted council house tenants in public housing to purchase their homes at favourable rates. The "Right to Buy" had emerged in the late-1940s but was too great a challenge to the
Post-War Consensus The post-war consensus is a thesis that describes the political Politics (from , ) is the set of activities that are associated with making decisions In psychology, decision-making (also spelled decision making and decisionmaking) is reg ...
to win Conservative endorsement. Thatcher from her earliest days in politics favoured the idea because it would lead to a "property-owning democracy", an important idea that had emerged in the 1920s. Some local Conservative-run councils enacted profitable local sales schemes during the late-1960s. By the 1970s, many working-class people had ample incomes to afford to buy homes, and eagerly adopted Thatcher's invitation to purchase their homes at a sizable discount. The new owners were more likely to vote Conservative, as Thatcher had hoped. Thatcher led the Conservatives to two further electoral victories with landslide majorities in
1983 The year 1983 saw both the contested beginning of the Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and d ...
and
1987 Events January * January 2 Events Pre-1600 *AD 69, 69 – The Roman legions in Germania Superior refuse to swear loyalty to Galba. They rebel and proclaim Vitellius as emperor. * 366 – The Alemanni cross the frozen Rhine in larg ...
. She was greatly admired by her supporters for her leadership in the
Falklands War The Falklands War ( es , link=no, Guerra de las Malvinas) was a ten-week undeclared war An undeclared war is military conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or par ...
of 1982—which coincided with a dramatic boost in her popularity—and for policies such as giving the right to council house tenants to buy their council house at a discount on market value. She was also deeply unpopular in certain sections of society due to high unemployment, which reached its highest level since the 1930s, peaking at over 3,000,000 people following her economic reforms, and her response to the
miners' strike Miners' strikes are when miners conduct strike actions. {, class="wikitable sortable plainrowheaders" summary="List of miners' strikes (sortable), Country (sortable), Region, Year(s) (sortable), and Larger movement (sortable)" !scope="col" , Strik ...
. Unemployment had doubled between 1979 and 1982, largely due to Thatcher's
monetarist Monetarism is a school of thought in monetary economics Monetary economics is the branch of economics that studies the different competing theories of money: it provides a framework for analyzing money and considers its functions (such as medium ...
battle against inflation. At the time of the 1979 general election, inflation had been at 9% or under for the previous year, having decreased under Callaghan, then increased to over 20% in the first two years of the Thatcher ministry, but it had fallen again to 5.8% by the start of 1983 (it continued to be under 7% until 1990). The British economy benefitted in the first Thatcher ministry by tax income from
North Sea oil North Sea oil is a mixture of hydrocarbon In organic chemistry Organic chemistry is a branch of chemistry Chemistry is the study of the properties and behavior of . It is a that covers the that make up matter to the composed of s ...
coming on stream. The period of unpopularity of the Conservatives in the early 1980s coincided with a crisis in the Labour Party, which then formed the main opposition. The
Social Democratic Party The name Social Democratic Party or Social Democrats has been used by many Political party, political parties in various countries around the world. Such parties are most commonly aligned to social democracy as their Ideologies of parties, pol ...
(SDP) was established in 1981 and consisted of more than twenty breakaway Labour MPs, who quickly formed the SDP-Liberal Alliance with the Liberal Party. By the turn of 1982, the SDP-Liberal Alliance was ahead of the Conservatives in the opinion polls, but victory in the
Falklands War The Falklands War ( es , link=no, Guerra de las Malvinas) was a ten-week undeclared war An undeclared war is military conflict War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, governments, Society, societies, or par ...
in June that year, along with the recovering British economy, saw the Conservatives returning quickly to the top of the opinion polls and winning the 1983 general election with a landslide majority, due to a split opposition vote. Thatcher now faced, arguably, her most serious rival yet after the 1983 general election, when
Michael Foot Michael Mackintosh Foot (23 July 19133 March 2010) was a British Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbu ...
resigned as
Leader of the Labour PartyThe title Leader of the Labour Party may refer to: *Leader of the Labour Party (Ireland) *Leader of the Labour Party (Netherlands) *Leader of the Labour Party (UK) **Leader of the Scottish Labour Party *Leader of the New Zealand Labour Party See als ...
and was succeeded by
Neil Kinnock Neil Gordon Kinnock, Baron Kinnock (born 28 March 1942) is a Welsh politician. As a member of the Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – ...
. With a new leader at the helm, Labour were clearly determined to defeat the Conservatives at the next election, and for virtually the entirety of Thatcher's second ministry, it was looking a very serious possibility, as the lead in the opinion polls constantly saw a change in leadership from the Conservatives to Labour, with the Alliance occasionally scraping into first place. By the time of the general election in June 1987, the economy was stronger, with lower inflation and falling unemployment and Thatcher secured her third successive electoral victory with a second, albeit reduced, landslide majority. The introduction of the
Community Charge The Community Charge, commonly known as the poll tax, was a system of taxation introduced by Margaret Thatcher's government in replacement of Rates in the United Kingdom#Domestic rates, domestic rates in Local government in Scotland, Scotland fr ...
(known by its opponents as the ''
poll tax A poll tax, also known as head tax or capitation, is a tax levied as a fixed sum on every liable individual (typically every adult), without reference to income or resources. Head taxes were important sources of revenue for many governments fr ...
'') in 1989 is often cited as contributing to her political downfall. The summer of 1989 saw her fall behind Neil Kinnock's Labour in the opinion polls for the first time since 1986, and her party's fall in popularity continued into 1990. By the second half of that year, opinion polls were showing that Labour had a lead of up to 16 points over the Conservatives, and they faced a tough 18 months ahead of them if they were to prevent Kinnock's ambition to become Prime Minister from becoming a reality. At the same time, the economy was sliding into another recession. Internal party tensions led to a leadership challenge by the Conservative MP
Michael Heseltine Michael Ray Dibdin Heseltine, Baron Heseltine, (; born 21 March 1933) is a British politician and businessman. Having begun his career as a property developer, he became one of the founders of the publishing house Haymarket. Heseltine served a ...
; and, after months of speculation about her future as Prime Minister, she resigned on 28 November 1990, making way for a new Conservative leader more likely to win the next general election in the interests of party unity.


John Major (1990–1997)

John Major Sir John Major (born 29 March 1943) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997. He served in the Third Thatcher mi ...

John Major
won the party leadership election on 27 November 1990, and his appointment led to an almost immediate boost in Conservative Party fortunes. A MORI poll six days before Mrs Thatcher's resignation had shown the Conservatives to be 11 points behind Labour, but within two months the Conservatives had returned to the top of the opinion polls with a narrow lead. A general election had to be held within the next eighteen months and the UK economy was sliding into recession, but 1991 was a year of electoral uncertainty as the Conservatives and Labour regularly swapped places at the top of the opinion polls, and Major resisted Neil Kinnock's numerous calls for an immediate election. The 1992 United Kingdom general election, election was finally held on 9 April 1992 and the Conservatives won a fourth successive electoral victory, even though the economy was still in recession and most of the polls had predicted either a narrow Labour victory or a hung parliament. Major's vigorous campaigning, notably his claim that the UK would have higher prices and higher taxes under a Labour government, was seen to have been crucial to his election win (in which he became the first—and as of 2015, only—Prime Minister to attract 14,000,000 votes in a general election), as was a high-profile campaign by the newspaper ''The Sun (United Kingdom), The Sun'' against Labour leader Neil Kinnock, who resigned in the aftermath of the election to be succeeded by John Smith (Labour Party leader), John Smith. The Conservative Party also touched upon the issue of immigration, claiming that under Labour, immigration would rise hugely. The UK economy was deep in recession by this stage and remained so until the end of the year. The pound sterling was forced out of the European Exchange Rate Mechanism on 16 September 1992, a day thereafter referred to as ''Black Wednesday''. Soon after, approximately one million householders faced repossession of their homes during a recession that saw a sharp rise in unemployment, taking it close to 3,000,000 people. The party subsequently lost much of its reputation for good financial stewardship although the end of the recession was declared in April 1993 bringing economic recovery and a fall in unemployment. From 1994 to 1997, Major privatisation of British Rail, privatised British Rail, splitting it up into Passenger rail franchising in Great Britain, franchises to be run by the private sector. Its impact of the privatisation of British Rail, success is hotly debated, with a large increase in passenger numbers and investment in the network balanced by worries about the level of subsidy. Train fares cost more than under British Rail. The party was plagued by internal division and infighting, mainly over the UK's role in the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
. The party's Euroscepticism in the United Kingdom, Eurosceptic wing, represented by MPs such as John Redwood, opposed further EU integration, whilst the party's pro-European wing, represented by those such as Chancellor of the Exchequer Kenneth Clarke, was broadly supportive. The issue of the creation of a single European currency also inflamed tensions, and these would continue to dog the party until the early-2000s (decade)". Major also had to survive a leadership challenge in 1995 by Redwood, then the Secretary of State for Wales. Major survived, but Redwood received 89 votes from MPs, as well as the backing of the ''The Sun (United Kingdom), Sun'' newspaper, which described the choice as being between "Redwood or Deadwood". This further undermined Major's influence in the Conservative Party. The Conservative government was also increasingly accused in the media of "Political scandals in the United Kingdom, sleaze". Their support reached its lowest ebb in late 1994, after the sudden death of Labour Party leader John Smith and the election of Tony Blair as his successor, when Labour had up to 60% of the vote in opinion polls and had a lead of some 30 points ahead of the Conservatives. The Labour lead was gradually narrowed over the next two years, as the Conservatives gained some credit for the strong economic recovery and fall in unemployment. But as the 1997 United Kingdom general election, 1997 general election loomed, despite their high-profile New Labour, New Danger campaign, it was still looking certain that Labour would win. An effective opposition campaign by the Labour Party culminated in a landslide defeat for the Conservatives in 1997 that was Labour's largest ever parliamentary victory and the worst defeat for the Conservatives since the 1906 United Kingdom general election, 1906 general election 91 years earlier. The 1997 United Kingdom general election, 1997 general election left the Conservative Party as an England-only party, with all Scottish and Welsh seats having been lost, and not a single new seat having been gained anywhere.


Political wilderness (1997–2005)


William Hague

John Major Sir John Major (born 29 March 1943) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997. He served in the Third Thatcher mi ...

John Major
resigned as party leader after the Conservatives were heavily defeated in a landslide and was succeeded by William Hague. Though Hague was a strong orator, a The Gallup Organization, Gallup poll for ''The Daily Telegraph'' found that two-thirds of voters regarded him as "a bit of a wally", for headlines such as his claim that he drank 14 pints of beer in a single day in his youth. He was also criticised for attending the Notting Hill Carnival and for wearing a baseball cap in public in what were seen as poor attempts to appeal to younger voters. Shortly before the 2001 United Kingdom general election, 2001 general election, Hague was much maligned for a speech in which he predicted that a re-elected Labour government would turn the UK into a "foreign land". The BBC also reported that the Conservative peer John Taylor, Baron Taylor of Warwick, John Lord Taylor criticised Hague for not removing the whip from John Townend, a Conservative MP, after the latter made a speech in which he said the British were becoming "a mongrel race", although Hague did reject Townend's views. The 2001 United Kingdom general election, 2001 general election resulted in a net gain of just one seat for the Conservative Party, just months after the Fuel protests in the United Kingdom, fuel protests of September 2000 had seen the Conservatives briefly take a narrow lead over Labour in the opinion polls. Having privately set himself a target of 209 seats, matching Labour's performance in
1983 The year 1983 saw both the contested beginning of the Internet The Internet (or internet) is the global system of interconnected computer networks that uses the Internet protocol suite (TCP/IP) to communicate between networks and d ...
—a target he missed by 43—William Hague resigned soon after.


Iain Duncan Smith and Michael Howard

In 2001, Iain Duncan Smith was elected leader of the Conservative Party. Although Duncan Smith was a strong Euroscepticism, Eurosceptic, the issue did not define his leadership. During his tenure, Europe ceased to be an issue of division in the party as it united behind calls for a referendum on the proposed Treaty establishing a Constitution for Europe, European Union Constitution. However, before he could lead the party into a general election, Duncan Smith lost the vote on a motion of no confidence by MPs who felt that the party would not be returned to government under his leadership. This was despite the Conservative support equalling that of Labour in the months leading up to his departure from the leadership. Michael Howard then 2003 Conservative Party leadership election, stood for the leadership unopposed on 6 November 2003. Under Howard's leadership in the 2005 United Kingdom general election, 2005 general election, the Conservative Party increased their total vote share by around 0.7% (up to 32.4%) and—more significantly—their number of parliamentary seats by 33 (up to 198 seats). This gain accompanied a large decline in the Labour vote, and the election reduced Labour's majority from 167 to 68 and its share of the vote to 35.2%. The campaign, based on the slogan "Are you thinking what we're thinking?", was designed by Australian pollster Lynton Crosby. The day following the election, on 6 May, Howard announced that he did not feel it was right to continue as leader after defeat in the general election, also saying that he would be too old to lead the party into another campaign and would therefore step down after allowing time for the party to amend its leadership election rules.


David Cameron (2005–2016)

David Cameron won the 2005 Conservative Party leadership election, 2005 leadership election. Cameron defeated his closest rival, David Davis (British politician), David Davis, by a margin of more than two to one, taking 134,446 votes to 64,398. He then announced his intention to reform and realign the Conservatives, saying they needed to change the way they looked, felt, thought and behaved, advocating a more centre-right stance as opposed to their recent staunchly right-wing platform. Cameron's views are a bit to the left of the party membership and he sought to make the Conservative brand more attractive to young, socially liberal voters, he has also expressed his admiration for
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either ...

Margaret Thatcher
, describing himself as a "big fan of Thatcher's", though he questions whether that makes him a "Thatcherite". For most of 2006 and the first half of 2007, polls showed leads over Labour for the Conservatives. Polls became more volatile in summer 2007 with the accession of Gordon Brown as Prime Minister, although polls gave the Conservatives a lead after October of that year and, by May 2008, with the UK's economy sliding into Great Recession, its first recession since 1992. The Conservatives gained control of the London Mayor of London, mayoralty for the first time in May 2008 after Boris Johnson defeated the Labour incumbent, Ken Livingstone. The Conservative lead in the opinion polls had been almost unbroken for nearly three years when Britain finally went to the polls on 6 May 2010, though since the turn of 2010 most polls had shown the Conservative lead as less than 10 points wide. The election resulted in a hung parliament with the Conservatives having the most seats (306) but being twenty seats short of an overall majority. Following the resignation of Gordon Brown, Cameron was named the country's new Prime Minister, and the Conservatives Cameron–Clegg coalition, entered government in a coalition with the Liberal Democrats—the first postwar coalition government. In May 2014, the Conservatives were defeated in the 2014 European Parliament election in the United Kingdom, European parliamentary elections, coming in third place behind the UK Independence Party and Labour. UKIP ended with 24 MEPs, Labour 20, and the Conservatives 19. The result was described by UKIP leader Nigel Farage as "disastrous" for Cameron, and the leaders of the other main parties. In September 2014, the Unionist side, championed by Labour as well as by the Conservative Party and the Liberal Democrats, won in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum, Scottish Independence referendum by 55% No to 45% Yes on the question "Should Scotland be an independent country". This can be seen as a victory for British Unionism, a core part of traditional Conservative ideology, and also for Cameron as the incumbent Prime Minister. At the 2015 United Kingdom general election, 2015 general election, the Conservatives won a majority of seats in the House of Commons and formed a majority government under Cameron. The party increased its national vote share, becoming the first incumbent party to do so since 1900. The result was unexpected and exceeded even the party leadership's expectations, as most polls had predicted a hung parliament. This was also the first general election since 1992 in which the Conservatives had won an overall majority, although the vote share of 36.9% was lower than the previous four Conservative majority governments under Thatcher and Major. In March 2017, the party was fined £70,000, the largest fine of this sort in British political history, after an Electoral Commission investigation found "significant failures" by the party to report its 2015 United Kingdom general election, 2015 general election campaign spending. On the morning of Friday 24 June 2016, Cameron announced his intention to resign as Prime Minister, after he failed to convince the British public to EU Referendum UK, stay in the European Union, and subsequently the 2016 Conservative Party leadership election, Conservative Party leadership election was announced with Theresa May, Michael Gove, Stephen Crabb, Liam Fox and Andrea Leadsom confirmed as the official contenders to be his successor with Boris Johnson ruling himself out of the process. After Crabb withdrew, Fox and then Gove were eliminated in successive ballots by Conservative MPs, leaving Leadsom and May as the final candidates to be put before the wider Conservative Party membership. Leadsom subsequently withdrew from the contest on 11 July.


Theresa May (2016–2019)

On 11 July 2016, Theresa May became the leader of the Conservative Party with immediate effect following the withdrawal from the leadership election of her sole remaining opponent, Andrea Leadsom. Appointed Prime Minister of the United Kingdom on 13 July 2016, May promised social reform and a more centrist political outlook for the Conservative Party and its government. In a speech after her appointment, May emphasised the term Unionist in the name of the party, reminding all of "the precious, precious bond between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland". May considers herself a One-nation conservatism, one nation conservative. May's early cabinet appointments were interpreted both as "centrist and conciliatory", an effort to reunite the party in the wake of the UK's 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, vote to leave the European Union, and as "a shift to the right" according to ''The Guardian''. May appointed former Mayor of London Boris Johnson as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Foreign Secretary, former Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Amber Rudd as Home Secretary, and former Shadow Home Secretary David Davis (British politician), David Davis to the newly created office of Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Brexit Secretary. Liam Fox and Philip Hammond, who had both previously served as Secretary of State for Defence (Fox from 2010 to 2011 and Hammond from 2011 to 2014), were appointed to the newly created office of Secretary of State for International Trade, International Trade Secretary and as Chancellor of the Exchequer respectively. Replacing Michael Gove, Elizabeth Truss was made Justice Secretary, the "first female Lord Chancellor in the thousand-year history of the role". Andrea Leadsom, who was energy minister and May's primary competitor for party leader, was made the new environment secretary. However, former Northern Ireland Secretary Theresa Villiers resigned from Cabinet after May offered her a different, non-Cabinet post that was, she said, "not one which I felt I could take on". Nearly half of the first May Cabinet of the United Kingdom, ministry were women. In her first speech, May made a promise to combat the "burning injustice" in British society and create a union "between all of our citizens" and promising to be an advocate for the "ordinary working-class family" and not just for "privileged few" in the UK. In April 2017, the Cabinet agreed to hold a 2017 United Kingdom general election, general election on 8 June. During the resulting campaign, Theresa May asked the electorate to "strengthen my hand" in
Brexit Brexit (; a portmanteau of "British exit") was the Withdrawal from the European Union, withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom) at 23:00 31 January 2020 Green ...

Brexit
negotiations, promised "strong and stable leadership in the national interest" and warned of a "coalition of chaos" under Jeremy Corbyn. Contrary to opinion polling at the time, the election resulted in a hung parliament, with the Conservative Party having 317 seats in the House of Commons, but without an overall majority. The Democratic Unionist Party suggested it would be able to provide a Conservative–DUP agreement, confidence and supply arrangement depending on negotiations. On 9 June 2017, May announced her intention to form a new Second May ministry, minority government with support from the DUP, which was finalised on 26 June. On 8 January 2018, May announced her first major cabinet reshuffle, keeping in place most ministers, but promoting others. In May 2018, the Conservative Party was accused of failing to take action on Islamophobia that was Islamophobia in the UK Conservative Party, allegedly happening in the party. In February 2019, three Conservative MPs – Heidi Allen, Sarah Wollaston, and Anna Soubry – defected from the party to join the The Independent Group, Independent Group, a Pro-Europeanism, pro-EU political association of Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), MPs founded by seven former members of the Labour Party. The MPs said the reasons for their departure were their opposition to the party's handling of Brexit, what they saw as the takeover of the Conservative party by 'right wing, ... hard-line anti-EU' MPs, and lack of concern from the Conservative party for the 'most vulnerable in society'. May announced her resignation from the leadership of the Conservative Party on 24 May 2019, intending to leave the role on 7 June. However, she remained Prime Minister until a successor was elected by the party. Theresa May resigned as Prime Minister on 24 July 2019 after her successor, Boris Johnson, was elected on 23 July 2019. She remained as the Member of Parliament for the Parliamentary Constituency of Maidenhead and won re-election for a further term as a backbencher in the 2019 United Kingdom general election, December general election.


Boris Johnson (2019–present)

In July 2019, former Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, Foreign Secretary and Mayor of London Boris Johnson defeated Foreign Secretary Jeremy Hunt, with 66% of the vote in the final ballot of Conservative Party members, to become Leader of the Conservative Party. He became Prime Minister the next day. Johnson lost his working majority in the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporat ...

House of Commons
on 3 September 2019 when former Justice minister Phillip Lee (politician), Phillip Lee crossed the floor during Johnson's speech to join the Liberal Democrats, later explaining that he believed the Conservative party had been "infected with the twin diseases of populism and English nationalism". The same day, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond announced that he would "defend his party" against "incomers and Entryism, entryists", perceived by some as referring to Johnson's adviser Dominic Cummings. Later that same day, September 2019 suspension of rebel Conservative MPs, 21 Conservative MPs had the Conservative whip withdrawn after voting with the Opposition to grant the House of Commons control over its order paper, leading to Johnson becoming the first Prime Minister to lose his first Commons vote. Subsequent votes in the Commons effected the passing of the European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019, Benn Act, which Prime Minister Johnson controversially dubbed the 'Surrender Act'. The Act required the Prime Minister to request a formal extension to United Kingdom invocation of Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, Article 50 if a new withdrawal agreement had not been approved by Parliament by 19 October 2019. After having agreed a revised withdrawal agreement (WA) with the European Union on 17 October, the Government put a motion before the House of Commons in a rare Saturday sitting on 19 October. This motion requested approval for the revised WA, such that the Benn Act would have been satisfied and no extension to Article 50 would be legally required. An amendment to the motion was passed, withholding formal approval of the WA until all the necessary legislation had been passed by Parliament. The following week, the full European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill 2019–20, Withdrawal Agreement Bill (WAB) was introduced. It passed a second reading, but the Cloture, programme motion for the bill put forward by the Government was voted down. This meant that there was no guarantee that the legislation would be passed in time to allow the United Kingdom to legally withdraw from the European Union (EU) on 31 October. Johnson had made withdrawal from the EU by this date "with no ifs, buts or maybes" a key pledge during 2019 Conservative Party leadership election, his campaign for the leadership of the Conservative Party. Johnson then immediately halted the WAB, and then called for a general election to be held. He made clear his view that Parliament was "...refusing to deliver Brexit. It's impossible to deliver legislation. It's time, frankly, the opposition summoned up the nerve to submit themselves to the judgment of our collective boss, which is the UK." After failing to gain the necessary support of two-thirds of all MPs to call an election under the provisions of the Fixed-term Parliaments Act 2011, Fixed-term Parliaments Act, the Government indicated its intention to pass a short bill requiring only a simple majority of votes to hold such an election. The Early Parliamentary General Election Act 2019, early parliamentary general election act was passed on 29 October 2019 and specified that a general election was to be held on 12 December 2019. 2019 United Kingdom general election, This election resulted in Johnson's Conservatives winning of a majority of 80 seats in the House of Commons, a significant improvement on their 2017 result, and indeed the Party's largest majority since
1987 Events January * January 2 Events Pre-1600 *AD 69, 69 – The Roman legions in Germania Superior refuse to swear loyalty to Galba. They rebel and proclaim Vitellius as emperor. * 366 – The Alemanni cross the frozen Rhine in larg ...
, under Thatcher. The party won several constituencies, especially in Northern England but also in the Midlands and North Wales (often dubbed Labour's Red Wall (British politics), Red Wall), that the party had either never won before or had not produced a Tory majority in several decades. These results prompted observations from a number of political analysts in both the United Kingdom and abroad that the Conservatives under Johnson had widened their appeal to working class voters, particularly among those who had voted for
Brexit Brexit (; a portmanteau of "British exit") was the Withdrawal from the European Union, withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom) at 23:00 31 January 2020 Green ...

Brexit
. Having previously been split on the issue of British membership of the European Union since the premiership of
John Major Sir John Major (born 29 March 1943) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997. He served in the Third Thatcher mi ...

John Major
, the Conservatives have adopted a clear pro-Brexit line under Johnson. Since the election, a number of far-right activists claim to have joined the Conservatives, prompting concerns over entryism.


Policies


Economic policy

The Conservative Party believes that a
free market In economics Economics () is a social science Social science is the branch A branch ( or , ) or tree branch (sometimes referred to in botany Botany, also called , plant biology or phytology, is the science of pl ...
and individual achievement are the primary factors behind economic prosperity. A leading economic theory advocated by Conservatives is supply-side economics, this theory holds that reduced income tax rates increase growth and enterprise (although a reduction in the budget deficit has sometimes taken priority over cutting taxes). The party has recently focused on the social market economy in Britain, promoting a free market for competition with social balance to create fairness. This has included curbs on the banking sector, enterprise zones to revive regions in Britain and grand infrastructure projects such as high-speed rail. One concrete economic policy of recent years has been opposition to the European single currency, the euro. With the growing Euroscepticism within his party,
John Major Sir John Major (born 29 March 1943) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997. He served in the Third Thatcher mi ...

John Major
negotiated a British opt-out in the 1992 Maastricht Treaty, which enabled the UK to stay within the European Union without adopting the single currency. However, several members of Major's cabinet, such as Kenneth Clarke, were personally supportive of EMU participation. Following Major's resignation after the 1997 election defeat, all subsequent Conservative leaders have positioned the party firmly against the adoption of the euro. Following Labour's victory in the 1997 general election, the Conservative Party opposed Labour's decision to grant the Bank of England independent control of interest rates—on the grounds that it would be a prelude to the abolition of the pound sterling and acceptance of the European single currency, and also expressed concern over the removal of monetary policy from democratic control. However, Bank independence was popular amongst the financial community as it helped to keep inflation low. The Conservatives accepted Labour's policy in early 2000. Since returning to power, the 50% top rate of UK income tax, income tax was reduced to 45% by the Cameron-Clegg coalition. Alongside a reduction in tax and commitments to keep taxation low, the Conservative Party has significantly reduced government spending, through the United Kingdom government austerity programme, austerity programme which commenced in 2010. This program became increasing unpopular and as a result, during the 2019 election campaign, now incumbent Conservative Prime Minister Boris Johnson signalled an end to austerity with promises to restore 20,000 police officers from those previously cut and increase public investment in the NHS, amongst other anti-austerity promises.


Social policy

Since the election of David Cameron as party leader in 2005, the Conservative Party has distanced itself from association with social conservatism. Socially conservative policies such as tax incentives for married couples and the belief that benefits for those out of work should be reduced may have played a role in the party's electoral decline in the 1990s and early 2000s, and so the party has attempted to seek a new direction. The introduction of equal marriage rights for LGBT+ individuals in 2010 can be said to have represented a shift away from social conservatism, though the extent to which this policy truly represented a more 'liberal' Conservative party has been challenged. Since 1997, debate has occurred within the party between 'modernisers' such as Alan Duncan, who believe that the Conservatives should modify their public stances on social issues, and 'traditionalists' such as Liam Fox and Owen Paterson, who believe that the party should remain faithful to its traditional conservative platform. William Hague and Michael Howard campaigned on traditionalist grounds in the 2001 and 2005 general elections respectively, and 2001 also saw the election of traditionalist Iain Duncan Smith as party leader. In the current parliament, modernising forces are represented by MPs such as Neil O'Brien, who has argued that the party needs to renew its policies and image, and is said to be inspired by Emmanuel Macron, Macron's centrist politics. Ruth Davidson is also seen as a reforming figure, as is the Minister for Women and Equalities and Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Minister for Levelling up Communities, Kemi Badenoch. Many of the original 'traditionalists' remain influential, though Duncan Smith’s influence in terms of Commons contributions has waned. Many 'traditionalist' backbenchers such as Christopher Chope, Peter Bone and Jacob Rees-Mogg command significant media attention for their use of Filibuster, fillibustering and frequent interjections, and so remain influential forces in the Commons, though they cannot be taken to represent all 'traditionalist' Conservatives. The party has strongly criticised Labour's "state multiculturalism". Shadow Home Secretary Dominic Grieve said in 2008 that state multiculturalism policies had created a "terrible" legacy of "cultural despair" and dislocation, which has encouraged support for "extremists" on both sides of the debate. David Cameron responded to Grieve's comments by agreeing that policies of "state multiculturalism" that treat social groups as distinct, for example policies that "treat British Muslims as Muslims, rather than as British citizens", are wrong. However, he expressed support for the premise of multiculturalism on the whole, arguing that it was "absolutely right" to encourage society to integrate more "to build a strong British identity for the future". Official statistics showed that EU and non-EU mass immigration, together with asylum seeker applications, all increased substantially during Cameron's term in office. However, this was not solely as a result of intentional government policy – during this period, there were significant refugee flows into the UK and an increased level of asylum applications due to conflict and persecution in a number of other states. Some political and media discourses at the time suggested that this increase in immigration and reception of refugees and asylum seekers caused significant strain on other areas of social policy through overburdening the NHS and the welfare state – these discourses were influential, but have not been empirically or decisively proven to be true. In 2019, Conservative Home Secretary Priti Patel announced that the government would enact stricter immigration reforms by cracking down on illegal immigration and scrapping freedom of movement with the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
following the completion of
Brexit Brexit (; a portmanteau of "British exit") was the Withdrawal from the European Union, withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom) at 23:00 31 January 2020 Green ...

Brexit
. These reforms also included introducing more stringent measures for migrating to the UK such as requiring that immigrants speak English, have skilled job offers, and meet minimum salary requirements, as well as persuading businesses to hire British workers over outsourcing to low-skilled immigrants.


Foreign policy

For much of the 20th century, the Conservative Party took a broadly Atlanticist stance in relations with the United States, favouring close ties with the United States and similarly aligned nations such as Canada, Australia and Japan. The Conservatives have generally favoured a diverse range of international alliances, ranging from the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the Commonwealth of Nations. Close United Kingdom–United States relations, US-British relations have been an element of Conservative foreign policy since World War II. Winston Churchill during his 1951–1955 post-war premiership built up a strong relationship with the Presidency of Dwight D. Eisenhower, Eisenhower Administration in the United States. Harold Macmillan demonstrated a similarly close relationship with the Democratic Party (United States), Democratic administration of John F. Kennedy. Though the US–British relationship in foreign affairs has often been termed a 'Special Relationship', a term coined by
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
, this has often been observed most clearly where leaders in each country are of a similar political stripe. The former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher built a close relationship with the American President Ronald Reagan in his opposition to the former Soviet Union, but
John Major Sir John Major (born 29 March 1943) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997. He served in the Third Thatcher mi ...

John Major
was less successful in his personal contacts with George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. Out of power and perceived as largely irrelevant by American politicians, Conservative leaders Hague, Duncan-Smith, and Howard each struggled to forge personal relationships with presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush. However, the Republican Party (United States), Republican 2008 presidential candidate, John McCain, spoke at the 2006 Conservative Party Conference. The Conservatives have proposed a Pan-African Free Trade Area, which it says could help Entrepreneurship, entrepreneurial dynamism of African people. The Conservatives pledged to increase aid spending to 0.7% of national income by 2013. They met this pledge in 2014, when spending on aid reached 0.72% of GDP and the commitment was enshrined in UK law in 2015. David Cameron had sought to distance himself from former US President Bush and his neoconservative foreign policy, calling for a "rebalancing" of US-UK ties and met Barack Obama during his 2008 European tour. Despite traditional links between the UK Conservatives and US Republican Party (United States), Republicans, and between centre-left Labour and the Democratic Party (United States), Democrats, London Mayor Boris Johnson, a Conservative, endorsed Barack Obama in the 2008 election. However, after becoming Prime Minister, Boris Johnson developed a close relationship with Republican Party (United States), Republican President Donald Trump, with both British and American media commentators drawing physical and ideological comparisons between the two leaders. This has also been described as a reestablishing of the ''Special Relationship'' with the United States following Britain's withdraw from the European Union, as well as returning to the links between the Conservatives and Republican Party. Beyond relations with the United States, the Commonwealth and the EU, the Conservative Party has generally supported a pro free-trade foreign policy within the mainstream of international affairs. The degree to which Conservative Governments have supported interventionism (politics), interventionist or non-interventionist presidents in the US has often varied with the personal relations between the US president and the British prime minister. Although stances have changed with successive leadership, the modern Conservative Party generally supports cooperation and maintaining friendly relations with the State of Israel. Historic Conservative statesmen such as
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
and
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
supported the idea of national home for the Jewish people. Under
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either ...

Margaret Thatcher
Conservative support for Israel was seen to crystallize. Support for Israel has increased under the leaderships of Theresa May and Boris Johnson, with prominent Conservative figures within the May and Johnson ministries such as Priti Patel, Robert Jenrick, Michael Gove and Sajid Javid strongly endorsing Israel. In 2016, Theresa May publicly rebutted statements made by US Secretary of State John Kerry over the composition of the Israeli government, which some commentators saw as a closer alignment to the stance of the incoming Trump administration. In 2018, the party pledged to proscribe all wings of the Lebanese-based militant group Hezbollah and this was adopted as a UK-wide policy in 2019. In 2019, the Conservative government under Boris Johnson announced plans to stop the influence of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement on local politics which included prohibiting local councils in the United Kingdom from boycotting Israeli products. The Conservatives maintain a continuous stance of staying neutral on matters relating to Kashmir.


Defence policy


Afghanistan

After the September 11 attacks, terrorist attacks of 11 September 2001, the Conservative Party supported the coalition military action in Afghanistan. The Conservative Party believed that success in Afghanistan would be defined in terms of the Afghans achieving the capability to maintain their own internal and external security. They have repeatedly criticised the former Labour Party (UK), Labour Government for failing to equip British Forces adequately in the earlier days on the campaign—especially highlighting the shortage of helicopters for British Forces resulting from Gordon Brown's £1.4bn cut to the helicopter budget in 2004.


Strategic Defence and Security Review

The Conservative Party believes that in the 21st century defence and security are interlinked. It has pledged to break away from holding a traditional Strategic Defence Review and have committed to carrying out a more comprehensive Strategic Defence and Security Review 2010, Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) immediately upon coming into office. This review will include both defence and homeland security related matters. The Labour Government last conducted a review in 1998. To prevent a long gap in the future it also pledged to hold regular defence reviews every 4–5 years, and if necessary will put this requirement into legislation. Party officials claim that the SDSR will be a major improvement, and will ensure that Britain maintains generic and flexible capability to adapt to any changing threats. It will be a cross-departmental review that will begin with foreign policy priorities and will bring together all the levers of domestic national security policy with overseas interests and defence priorities. As well as an SDSR, the Conservative Party pledged in 2010 to undertake a fundamental and far-reaching review of the procurement process and how defence equipment is provided in Britain. It pledged to reform the procurement process, compile a Green Paper on Sovereignty Capability, and publish another Defence Industrial Strategy following on from the Defence Industrial Strategy in 2005. The Conservative Party has said that there will be four aims for British defence procurement: to provide the best possible equipment at the best possible price; to streamline the procurement process to ensure the speedy delivery of equipment to the front line; to support our industry jobs at home by increasing defence exports; to provide defence procurement that underpins strategic relationships abroad and; to provide predictability to the defence industry. The Conservative Party also pledged to increase Britain's share of the global defence market as Government policy.


NATO

The Conservative Party upholds the view that
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance A military alliance is a formal agreement betwe ...
remains and should remain the most important security alliance for the United Kingdom. It has advocated for the creation of a fairer funding mechanism for NATO's expeditionary operations and called for all NATO countries to meet their required defence spending 2% of GDP. As well as this, some Conservatives believe that there is scope for expanding NATO's Article V to include new 21st Century threats such as cybersecurity.


European defence

The Conservative Party aims to build enhanced bilateral defence relations with key European partners and believes that it is in Britain's national interest to cooperate fully with all its European neighbours. It has pledged to ensure that any EU military capability must supplement and not supplant British national defence and
NATO The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO, ; french: Organisation du traité de l'Atlantique nord, ), also called the North Atlantic Alliance, is an intergovernmental military alliance A military alliance is a formal agreement betwe ...
, and that it is not in the British interest to hand over security to any supranational body. The Conservatives see it as a priority to encourage all members of the European Union to do more in terms of a commitment to European security at home and abroad. Regarding the defence role of the European Union, the Conservatives pledged to re-examine some of Britain's EU Defence commitments to determine their practicality and utility; specifically, to reassess UK participation provisions like Permanent Structured Cooperation, the European Defence Agency and EU Battlegroups to determine if there is any value in Britain's participation.


Nuclear weapons

The Conservatives support the UK's possession of nuclear weapons through the Trident (UK nuclear programme), Trident nuclear missile programme.


Health policy

In 1945, the Conservatives declared support for universal healthcare. Since entering office in 2010, they have introduced the Health and Social Care Act 2012, Health and Social Care Act, constituting the biggest reformation that the NHS has ever undertaken. However, there has been much criticism and protest about the 2010 government's actions on the NHS, focussing on budget cuts and privatisation of services. After a 2013 Trades union, union protest said by police to have been one of the largest protests seen in Manchester, the general secretary of the Trades Union Congress (TUC) said that austerity was having a devastating effect, with 21,000 NHS jobs lost over the previous three months alone, and that "The NHS is one of Britain's finest achievements and we will not allow ministers to destroy, through cuts and privatisation, what has taken generations to build." The Department of Health responded that there was "absolutely no government policy to privatise NHS services".


Drug policy

The Conservative Party supports current drug prohibition policies. However, views on drugs do vary amongst some MPs in the party. Some Conservative politicians such as former MP Alan Duncan and Crispin Blunt take the libertarianism, libertarian approach that individual freedom and economic freedom of industry and trade should be respected. Other Conservative politicians, despite being Economic liberalism, economically liberal, are in favour of full Prohibition of drugs, prohibition of the ownership and trade of many drugs. Legalisation of Medical cannabis, cannabis for medical uses is favoured by some Conservative politicians. The party has rejected decriminalising drugs for personal use and Supervised injection site, safe consumption rooms.


Education and research

In education, the Conservatives have pledged to review the National Curriculum (England, Wales and Northern Ireland), National Curriculum, and introduce the General Certificate of Secondary Education#English Baccalaureate, English Baccalaureate. The restoration of discipline was also highlighted, as they want it to be easier for pupils to be searched for contraband items, the granting of anonymity to teachers accused by pupils, and the banning of expelled pupils being returned to schools via appeal panels. In Higher education, the Conservatives have increased tuition fees to £9,250 per year, however have ensured that this will not be paid by anyone until they are earning over £25,000. The Scottish Conservatives also support the re-introduction of tuition fees in Scotland. In 2016 the Conservative government extended student loan access in England to postgraduate students to help improve access to education. Within the EU, the UK is one of the largest recipients of research funding in the
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
, receiving £7 billion between 2007 and 2015, which is invested in universities and research-intensive businesses. Following the vote to leave the EU, Prime Minister Theresa May guaranteed that the Conservative government would protect funding for existing research and development projects in the UK. In autumn 2017 the Conservatives decided to introduce the T Level qualification aimed at improving the teaching and administration of technical education.


Family policy

As prime minister, David Cameron wanted to 'support family life in Britain' and put families at the centre of domestic social policymaking. He stated in 2014 that there was 'no better place to start' in the Conservative mission of 'building society from the bottom up' than the family, which was responsible for individual welfare and well-being long before the welfare state came into play. He also argued that 'family and politics are inextricably linked'. Both Cameron and Theresa May have aimed at helping families achieve a work-home balance and have previously proposed to offer all parents 12 months parental leave, to be shared by parents as they choose. This policy is now in place, offering 50 weeks total parental leave, of which 37 weeks are paid leave, which can be shared between both parents. Other policies have included doubling the free hours of childcare for working parents of three and four-year-olds from 15 hours to 30 hours a week during term-time, although parents can reduce the number of hours per week to 22 and spread across 52 weeks of the year. However, numerous childcare providers have argued that this policy is unworkable, as it means that they do not receive enough compensation from the government to make up for the lost childcare fees, and so their businesses are no longer financially viable. The government also introduced a policy to fund 15 hours a week of free education and childcare for 2-year-olds in England if parents are receiving certain state benefits or the child has a SEN statement or diagnosis, worth £2,500 a year per child.


Jobs and welfare policy

One of the Conservatives' key policy goals in 2010 was to reduce the number of people in the UK claiming state benefits, and increase the number of people in the workforce. Between 2010 and 2014, all claimants of Incapacity Benefit were moved onto a new benefit scheme, Employment and Support Allowance, which was then subsumed into the Universal Credit system alongside other welfare benefits in 2018. The Universal Credit system has come under immense scrutiny since its introduction. Shortly after her appointment to the Department for Work and Pensions, Secretary of State Amber Rudd acknowledged there were 'real problems' with the Universal Credit system, especially the wait times for initial payments and the housing payments aspect of the combined benefits. Rudd pledged specifically to review and address the uneven impact of Universal Credit implementation on economically disadvantaged women, which had been the subject of numerous reports by the Radio 4 You and Yours programme and others. Until 1999, Conservatives opposed the creation of a National Minimum Wage Act 1998, national minimum wage, as they believed it would cost jobs, and businesses would be reluctant to start business in the UK from fear of high labour costs. However the party have since pledged support and in the July 2015 United Kingdom budget, July 2015 budget, Chancellor George Osborne announced a National Living Wage of £9/hour, to be introduced by 2020, for those aged 25 and over. The National Minimum Wage in 2012 was £6.19 for over-21-year olds, so the proposed rises in National Living Wage by 2020 will represent a significantly higher pay for many. However, the National Living Wage varies significantly by age, and there is evidence that up to 200,000 eligible individuals are not actually receiving the pay that they should be under the National Living Wage scheme. The party support, and have implemented, the restoration of the link between pensions and earnings, and seek to raise retirement age from 65 to 67 by 2028.


Energy and climate change policy

David Cameron brought several 'Green conservatism, green' issues to the forefront of his 2010 campaign. These included proposals designed to impose a tax on workplace car parking spaces, a halt to airport growth, a tax on cars with exceptionally poor petrol mileage, and restrictions on car advertising. Many of these policies were implemented in the Coalition—including the 'The Green Deal, Green Deal'. In November 2019, UK Prime Minister and Conservative Party leader Boris Johnson did not accept an invitation to a Channel 4 News climate debate on how to tackle the climate crisis that was attended by other political party leaders. Also in 2019, Greenpeace conducted a scorecard on the main parties’ environmental commitments placing the party second from bottom (one point above the Brexit Party) and scoring it 7 out of 20. In 2021, Northern Conservative Party MPs declared their support for opening a new coal mine in Cumbria. A poll in 2021 found that one in 15 Conservative MPs (7%) believe climate change is a myth. A poll of over 1,100 Conservative Party members in 2020 found that less than half believe that human activity is responsible for climate change and 9.7% did not believe that climate change was happening at all.


Justice, crime and security policy

In 2010, the Conservatives campaigned to cut the perceived bureaucracy of the modern police force and pledged greater legal protection to people convicted of defending themselves against intruders. The party has also campaigned for the creation of a UK Bill of Rights to replace the Human Rights Act 1998, but this was vetoed by their coalition partners the Liberal Democrats. Some Conservatives, particularly within the socially conservative Cornerstone Group, support the re-introduction of the Capital punishment in the United Kingdom, death penalty. The Conservatives’ 2017 manifesto pledged to create a national infrastructure police force, subsuming the existing British Transport Police; Civil Nuclear Constabulary; and Ministry of Defence Police to "to improve the protection of critical infrastructure such as nuclear sites, railways and the strategic road network". However, this has not yet occurred.


European Union policy

No subject has proved more divisive in the Conservative Party in recent history than the role of the United Kingdom within the European Union. Though the principal architect of the UK's entry into the European Communities (which became the European Union) was Conservative Prime Minister
Edward Heath Sir Edward Richard George Heath (9 July 191617 July 2005) was a British politician who served as from 1970 to 1974 and from 1965 to 1975. Heath also served for 51 years as a from 1950 to 2001. Outside of politics, Heath was a , a musician, ...
, and both
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
and
Harold Macmillan Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, (10 February 1894 – 29 December 1986) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nat ...

Harold Macmillan
favoured some form of European union, the bulk of contemporary Conservative opinion is opposed to closer economic and particularly political union with the EU. This is a noticeable shift in British politics, as in the 1960s and 1970s the Conservatives were more pro-Europe than the Labour Party: for example, in the 1971 House of Commons vote on whether the UK should join the European Economic Community, only 39 of the then 330 Conservative MPs were opposed to membership. Divisions on Europe came to the fore under the premiership of
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either ...

Margaret Thatcher
(1979–1990) and were cited by several ministers resigning, including
Geoffrey Howe Richard Edward Geoffrey Howe, Baron Howe of Aberavon, (20 December 1926 – 9 October 2015), known from 1970 to 1992 as Sir Geoffrey Howe, was a British Conservative Conservatism is a Political philosophy, political and social ...

Geoffrey Howe
, the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Deputy Prime Minister, whose resignation triggered 1990 Conservative Party leadership election, the challenge that ended Thatcher's leadership. Under Thatcher's successor,
John Major Sir John Major (born 29 March 1943) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997. He served in the Third Thatcher mi ...

John Major
(1990–1997), the slow process of integration within the EU forced party tensions to the surface. A core of Euroscepticism, Eurosceptic MPs under Major used the small Conservative majority in Parliament to oppose Government policy on the Maastricht Treaty. By doing so they undermined Major's ability to govern. The Conservative Party has members with varying opinions of the EU, with pro-European Conservatives joining the affiliate Conservative Europe Group, Conservative Group for Europe, while some Eurosceptics left the party to join the United Kingdom Independence Party. Whilst the vast majority of Conservatives in recent decades have been Eurosceptics, views among this group regarding the UK's relationship with the EU have been polarised between moderate, soft Eurosceptics who support continued British membership but oppose further harmonisation of regulations affecting business and accept participation in a multi-speed Europe, and a more radical, economically libertarian faction who oppose policy initiatives from Brussels, support the rolling back of integration measures from the Maastricht Treaty onwards, and have become increasingly supportive of a complete withdrawal. Under current EU practices, the degree to which a Conservative Government could implement policy change regarding the EU would depend directly on the willingness of other EU member states to agree to such policies. In 2009 the Conservative Party actively campaigned against the Treaty of Lisbon, Lisbon Treaty, which it believes would give away too much sovereignty to Brussels. Shadow Cabinet, Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague stated that, should the treaty be in force by the time of an incoming Conservative government, he would "not let matters rest there". However, on 14 June 2009 the shadow Business Secretary, Kenneth Clarke, said in an interview to the BBC that the Conservative Party would not reopen negotiations on the Lisbon Treaty if the Irish backed it in a new referendum, which they did on 2 October 2009. The Conservative Party pledged an in-out referendum on membership of the European Union after a renegotiation. The 2016 United Kingdom European Union membership referendum, referendum took place on 23 June 2016, and resulted in a vote to leave the European Union – a policy commonly referred to as
Brexit Brexit (; a portmanteau of "British exit") was the Withdrawal from the European Union, withdrawal of the United Kingdom (UK) from the European Union (EU) and the European Atomic Energy Community (EAEC or Euratom) at 23:00 31 January 2020 Green ...

Brexit
. Prime Minister Theresa May signed the notice under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which officially began Britain's withdrawal from the EU, on 28 March 2017, and at 12:20 on 29 March 2017, the UK ambassador Tim Barrow delivered the notice to EU president Donald Tusk, officially triggering what was intended to be a two-year process of leaving the European Union. Following the 2019 Conservative Party leadership election, election of Boris Johnson as leader, the Conservative Party became a strong supporter of the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union. On 3 September 2019 the Conservative group in the House of Commons withdrew its whip from twenty-one MPs who voted in favour of the so-called European Union (Withdrawal) (No. 2) Act 2019, Benn-Burton Act, preventing the UK to No-deal Brexit, leave the EU with no deal. In the 2019 United Kingdom general election, 2019 general election the Conservative Party adopted a clear pro-Brexit platform. Following the election, the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020, European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act was passed; the United Kingdom finally withdrew from the European Union on 31 January 2020.


British Union policy

The Conservatives staunchly support the maintenance of the United Kingdom, and oppose the independence of any of the countries of the United Kingdom: English independence, England, Scottish independence, Scotland, Welsh independence, Wales or Irish republicanism, Northern Ireland from it. They have had a mixed history on support for History of Scottish devolution, Scottish, Welsh devolution, Welsh and Devolution for Northern Ireland, Northern Irish devolution. In 1968,
Edward Heath Sir Edward Richard George Heath (9 July 191617 July 2005) was a British politician who served as from 1970 to 1974 and from 1965 to 1975. Heath also served for 51 years as a from 1950 to 2001. Outside of politics, Heath was a , a musician, ...
issued his 'Declaration of Perth, Perth declaration', in support of a Scottish assembly, in the wake of growing nationalism. However, the cause went unanswered during his turbulent premiership, and under
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013), was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either ...

Margaret Thatcher
and
John Major Sir John Major (born 29 March 1943) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997. He served in the Third Thatcher mi ...

John Major
's leadership, the Conservatives vehemently opposed devolution, and campaigned against it in the 1997 Scottish devolution referendum, 1997 devolution referendum. Following the
Scottish Parliament The Scottish Parliament ( gd, Pàrlamaid na h-Alba ; Scots language, Scots: ''Scots Pairlament'') is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, Unicameralism, unicameral legislature of Scotland. Located in the Holyrood, Edinburgh, Holyro ...

Scottish Parliament
's establishment in 1999, they have vowed to support its continued existence, and along with Labour and the Liberal Democrats, they supported the Scotland Bill (2011), granting further devolution of power. They campaigned alongside Labour and the Liberal Democrats against full Scottish Independence in the 2014 Scottish independence referendum. In Wales, the Conservatives campaigned against devolution in the 1997 Welsh devolution referendum, 1997 referendum, however likewise as with Scotland, they have vowed to maintain the
Senedd The Senedd (; ), officially known as the Welsh Parliament in English language, English and () in Welsh language, Welsh, is the Devolution in the United Kingdom, devolved, unicameral legislature of Wales. A democratically elected body, it makes ...

Senedd
's continued existence, and in 2011 supported the further devolution of power. In Northern Ireland, the Conservatives suspended the parliament in 1973 in the wake of the growing The Troubles, Troubles, and made unsuccessful attempts to re-establish it in the same year, and in 1982. They supported the Belfast Agreement negotiated by the Blair government in 1998, and in 2009, negotiated an electoral pact with the declining Ulster Unionist Party, whom it had previously been allied to before 1973 and informally during the John Major's tenure as Prime Minister. The pact was abandoned for the 2015 general election, where the Northern Ireland Conservatives ran their own candidates. On 4 October 2016, the Democratic Unionist Party's leader Arlene Foster and MPs held a champagne reception at the Conservative Party Party conference season, conference, marking what some have described as an "informal coalition" or an "understanding" between the two parties to account for the Conservatives' narrow majority in the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporat ...

House of Commons
. Since then, the DUP has generally supported Conservative legislation. The party opposed Labour's attempts to 2004 Northern England devolution referendums, devolve power to the northern regions of England in 2004. It declared support for a commission into the West Lothian question, as to whether or not only English MPs should be able to vote on issues solely affecting English matters following the Scottish Independence Referendum.


Constitutional policy

Traditionally the Conservative Party has supported the uncodified constitution of the United Kingdom and its traditional Westminster model, Westminster system of Politics of the United Kingdom, politics. The party opposed many of Tony Blair's reforms, such as the removal of the hereditary peers, the incorporation of the European Convention on Human Rights into British law, and the 2009 creation of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom, a function formerly Lords of Appeal in Ordinary, carried out by the House of Lords. Until 2001, most members of the party opposed an elected
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
; however opinion was later split, shown in the vote on the House of Lords Reform Bill 2012, when 80 backbenchers voted for an 80% elected upper chamber, and 110 did not. There was also a split on whether to introduce a British Bill of Rights that would replace the Human Rights Act 1998; David Cameron expressed support, but party grandee Ken Clarke described it as "xenophobic and legal nonsense". In 2019, the Conservatives' manifesto committed to a broad constitutional review in a line which read "after Brexit we also need to look at the broader aspects of our constitution: the relationship between the government, parliament and the courts". Following the party's significant election victory, it remains unclear what this may mean.


Organisation


Party structure

The Conservative Party comprises the voluntary party, parliamentary party (sometimes called the political party) and the professional party. Members of the public join the party by becoming part of a local constituency Conservative Association. The country is also divided into regions, with each region containing a number of areas, both having a similar structure to constituency associations. The National Conservative Convention sets the voluntary party's direction. It is composed of all association chairs, officers from areas and regions, and 42 representatives and the Conservative Women's Organisation. The Convention meets twice a year. Its Annual General Meeting is usually held at Spring Forum, with another meeting usually held at the Conservative Party (UK) Conference, Conservative Party Conference. In the organisation of the Conservative Party, constituency associations dominate selection of local candidates, and some associations have organised open primary, open Conservative Party (UK) parliamentary primaries, parliamentary primaries. The 1922 Committee consists of backbench MPs, meeting weekly while parliament is sitting. Frontbench MPs have an open invitation to attend. The 1922 Committee plays a crucial role in the selection of party leaders. All Conservative MPs are members of the 1922 Committee by default. There are 20 executive members of the committee, agreed by consensus among backbench MPs. The Conservative Campaign Headquarters (CCHQ) is effectively head of the Professional Party and leads Political funding in the United Kingdom, financing, organisation of elections and drafting of policy. The Conservative Party Board is the party's ultimate decision-making body, responsible for all operational matters (including fundraising, membership and candidates) and is made up of representatives from each (voluntary, political and professional) section of the Party. The Party Board meets about once a month and works closely with CCHQ, elected representatives and the voluntary membership mainly through a number of management sub-committees (such as membership, candidates and conferences).


Membership

Membership peaked in the mid-1950s at approximately 3 million, before declining steadily through the second half of the 20th century. Despite an initial boost shortly after 2005 Conservative Party leadership election, David Cameron's election as leader in December 2005, membership resumed its decline in 2006 to a lower level than when he was elected. In 2010, the Conservative Party had about 177,000 members according to activist Tim Montgomerie, and in 2013 membership was estimated by the party itself at 134,000. The membership fee for the Conservative Party is £25, or £5 if the member is under the age of 23. From April 2013 until the 2015 general election people could join Team2015 without being Party members, and take part in political campaigning for the party. At the 2018 Conservative Spring Forum, Party chairman Brandon Lewis announced that the party's membership stood at 124,000. In 2013 the Conservative Party lost an estimated 35–40% of its membership due to the Same Sex Marriage Bill.


Prospective parliamentary candidates

Associations select their constituency's candidates. Some associations Conservative Party (UK) parliamentary primaries, have organised open parliamentary primaries. A constituency Association must choose a candidate using the rules approved by, and (in England, Wales and Northern Ireland) from a list established by, the Committee on Candidates of the Board of the Conservative Party. Prospective candidates apply to the Conservative Central Office to be included on the approved list of candidates, some candidates will be given the option of applying for any seat they choose, while others may be restricted to certain constituencies. A Conservative MP can only be deselected at a special general meeting of the local Conservative association, which can only be organised if backed by a petition of more than fifty members.


Young Conservatives

From 1998 to 2015, the Conservative Party maintained a youth wing for members under 30 called Conservative Future, with branches at both universities and at parliamentary constituency level. By 2006, the group had become the largest political organisation on British university campuses. The organisation was closed in 2015 after allegations that bullying by Mark Clarke (politician), Mark Clarke had caused the suicide of Elliot Johnson, a 21-year-old party activist.


Conferences

The major annual party events are the Spring Forum and the Conservative Party (UK) Conference, Conservative Party Conference, which takes place in Autumn in alternately Manchester or Birmingham. This is when the National Conservative Convention holds meetings.


Funding

In the first decade of the 21st century, half the party's funding came from a cluster of just fifty "donor groups", and a third of it from only fifteen. In the year after the 2010 general election, half the Tories' funding came from the financial sector. For 2013, the Conservative Party had an income of £25.4 million, of which £749,000 came from membership subscriptions. In 2015, according to accounts filed with the Electoral Commission (United Kingdom), Electoral Commission, the party had an income of about £41.8 million and expenditures of about £41 million. Construction businesses, including the Wates Group and JCB (company), JCB, have also been significant donors to the party, contributing £430,000 and £8.1m respectively between 2007 and 2017.


International organisations

The Conservative Party is a member of a number of international organisations, most notably the
International Democrat Union The International Democrat Union (IDU) is an international alliance of right-of-centre Centre-right politics (British English) or center-right politics (American English), also referred to as moderate-right politics, lean to the Right-win ...

International Democrat Union
which unites right-wing parties including the United States Republican Party (United States), Republican Party, the Liberal Party of Australia, the Indian Bharatiya Janata Party, the Conservative Party of Canada and the South Korean United Future Party. At a European level, the Conservatives are members of the
European Conservatives and Reformists Party The European Conservatives and Reformists Party (ECR Party), formerly known as Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists (AECR) (2009–2016) and Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe (ACRE) (2016–2019), is a conservative ...
(ECR Party), which unites conservative parties in opposition to a federal
European Union The European Union (EU) is a political and economic union of member states that are located primarily in Europe Europe is a which is also recognised as part of , located entirely in the and mostly in the . It comprises the wester ...

European Union
, through which the Conservatives have ties to the Ulster Unionist Party and the governing parties of Israel and Turkey, Likud and the Justice and Development Party (Turkey), Justice and Development Party respectively. In the European Parliament, the Conservative Party's MEPs sat in the European Conservatives and Reformists Group (ECR Group), which is affiliated to the ACRE. Party leader David Cameron pushed the foundation of the ECR, which was launched in 2009, along with the Czech Civic Democratic Party (Czech Republic), Civic Democratic Party and the Polish Law and Justice, before which the Conservative Party's MEPs sat in the European Democrats, which had become a subgroup of the European People's Party (European Parliament group), European People's Party in the 1990s. Since the 2014 European Parliament election, 2014 European election, the ECR Group has been the third-largest group, with the largest members being the Conservatives (nineteen MEPs), Law and Justice (eighteen MEPs), the Liberal Conservative Reformers (five MEPs), and the Danish People's Party and New Flemish Alliance (four MEPs each). In June 2009, The Conservatives required a further four partners apart from the Polish and Czech supports to qualify for official Political groups of the European Parliament, fraction status in the parliament; the rules state that a European parliamentary caucus requires at least 25 Member of the European Parliament, MEPs from at least seven of the 27 EU member states. In forming the caucus, the party broke with two decades of co-operation by the UK's Conservative Party with the mainstream European Christian Democrats and conservatives in the European parliament, the European People's Party (EPP). It did so on the grounds that it is dominated by European federalism, federalists and supporters of the Lisbon treaty, which the Conservatives were generally highly critical of.


Logo

When Sir Christopher Lawson was appointed as a marketing director at Conservative Central Office in 1981, he was surprised find to that, apart from a few diverse symbols, there was no logo to represent the party. He developed a design based on the Olympic flame in the colours of the Union Jack, which was intended to represent leadership, striving to win, dedication, and a sense of community. Despite opposition from some traditionalists in the party, the emblem was adopted for the 1983 general election. In 1989, the party's director of communications, Brendan Bruce, decided to conduct some market research into the public reaction to the logo. The results were that recognition of the symbol was low and that people found it old fashioned and uninspiring. It was decided to redesign the existing logo, rather than adopt an entirely new one which might be interpreted as signalling a change of the party's ethos. Using a design company headed by Michael Peters (designer), Michael Peters, an image of a hand carrying a torch was developed, which referenced the Statue of Liberty. In 2006, there was a rebranding exercise to emphasise the Conservatives' commitment to environmentalism; a project costing £40,000 resulted in a sketched silhouette of an Quercus robur, oak tree, a national symbol, which was said to represent "strength, endurance, renewal and growth". However, there was criticism from within the party; former chairman Norman Tebbit remarked on national radio that the new green logo resembled "a bunch of broccoli". It had been intended to unveil the emblem at the party conference, but a leak to the press resulted in it being launched a week earlier. A change from green to the traditional Conservative blue colour appeared in 2007, followed by a version with the Union Jack superimposed in 2010. An alternative version featuring the colours of the rainbow flag (LGBT), Rainbow flag was unveiled for an LGBT event at the 2009 conference in Manchester.


Party factions

The Conservative Party has a variety of internal factions or ideologies, including one-nation conservatism, liberal conservatism, Cornerstone Group, social conservatism,
Thatcherism Thatcherism is a form of British conservative ideology named after Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) ...
, traditional conservatism, British neoconservatism, neoconservatism, Euroscepticism, pro-Europeanism, Christian democracy, Localism (politics), localism and green conservatism.


Traditionalist Conservatives

This social conservatism, socially conservative right-wing grouping is currently associated with the Cornerstone Group (or Faith, Flag and Family), and is the oldest tradition within the Conservative Party, closely associated with High Toryism. The name stems from its support for three social institutions: the Church of England, the unitary state, unitary British state and the family. To this end, it emphasises the country's Anglicanism, Anglican heritage, oppose any transfer of power away from the United Kingdom—either downwards to the nations and regions or upwards to the European Union—and seek to place greater emphasis on traditional family structures to repair what it sees as a broken society in the UK. It is a strong advocate of marriage and believes the Conservative Party should back the institution with tax breaks and have opposed the alleged assaults on both traditional family structures and fatherhood. Most oppose high levels of immigration and support the lowering of the current 24‑week abortion limit. Some members in the past have expressed support for capital punishment. Prominent MPs from this wing of the party include Andrew Rosindell, Nadine Dorries, Edward Leigh and Jacob Rees-Mogg—the latter two being prominent Roman Catholics, notable in a faction marked out by its support for the established Church of England. The conservative English philosopher Roger Scruton is a representative of the intellectual wing of the Traditional conservatism, traditionalist group: his writings rarely touch on economics and instead focus on conservative perspectives concerning political, social, cultural and moral issues.


One-nation Conservatives

One-nation conservatism was the party's dominant ideology in the 20th century until the rise of
Thatcherism Thatcherism is a form of British conservative ideology named after Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) ...
in the 1970s. It has included in its ranks Conservative Prime Ministers such as
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, (3 August 186714 December 1947) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nature of beauty and ...
,
Harold Macmillan Maurice Harold Macmillan, 1st Earl of Stockton, (10 February 1894 – 29 December 1986) was a British Conservative Conservatism is an aesthetic Aesthetics, or esthetics (), is a branch of philosophy that deals with the nat ...

Harold Macmillan
and
Edward Heath Sir Edward Richard George Heath (9 July 191617 July 2005) was a British politician who served as from 1970 to 1974 and from 1965 to 1975. Heath also served for 51 years as a from 1950 to 2001. Outside of politics, Heath was a , a musician, ...
. One Nation Conservatives in the contemporary party include Malcolm Rifkind and Damian Green. The name itself comes from a famous phrase of Disraeli. Ideologically, One Nation Conservatism identifies itself with a broad liberal conservative stance. They are often associated with the Tory Reform Group and the Bow Group. Adherents of One-Nation Conservatism believe in social cohesion and support social institutions that maintain harmony between different interest groups, classes, and—more recently—different races or religions. These institutions have typically included the
welfare state The welfare state is a form of government in which the state (or a well-established network of social institutions) protects and promotes the economic and social well-being of its citizens, based upon the principles of equal opportunity Equal o ...
, the BBC, and local government. One Nation Conservatives often invoke Edmund Burke and his emphasis on civil society ("little platoons") as the foundations of society, as well as his opposition to radical politics of all types. The Red Tory theory of Phillip Blond is a strand of the One Nation school of thought. Prominent Red Tories include former Cabinet Ministers Iain Duncan Smith and Eric Pickles and Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State Jesse Norman. There is a difference of opinion among supporters regarding the European Union. Some support it perhaps stemming from an extension of the cohesion principle to the international level, though others are strongly against the EU (such as Peter Tapsell (UK politician), Peter Tapsell).


Free-market Conservatives

The "free-market wing" of economic liberalism, economic liberals achieved dominance after the election of Margaret Thatcher as party leader in 1975. Their goal was to reduce the role of the government in the economy and to this end, they supported cuts in direct taxation, the privatisation of Nationalization, nationalised industries and a reduction in the size and scope of the welfare state. Supporters of the "free-market wing" have been labelled as "Thatcherites". The group has disparate views of social policy: Thatcher herself was social conservatism, socially conservative and a practising Anglican but the free-market wing in the Conservative Party harbour a range of social opinions from the civil libertarian views of Michael Portillo, Daniel Hannan, and David Davis (British politician), David Davis to the traditional conservatism of former party leaders William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith. The Thatcherite wing is also associated with the concept of a "classless society". Whilst a number of party members are pro-European, some free-marketeers are Eurosceptic, perceiving most EU regulations as interference in the free market and/or a threat to British sovereignty. EU centralisation also conflicts with the localist ideals that have grown in prominence within the party in recent years. Rare Thatcherite Europhiles included Leon Brittan, Baron Brittan of Spennithorne, Leon Brittan. Many take inspiration from Thatcher's Bruges speech in 1988, in which she declared that "we have not successfully rolled back the frontiers of the state in Britain only to see them reimposed at a European level". A number of free-market Conservatives have signed the Better Off Out pledge to leave the EU. Thatcherites and economic liberals in the party tend to support Atlanticism, something exhibited between Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. Thatcher herself claimed philosophical inspiration from the works of Burke and
Friedrich Hayek Friedrich August von Hayek ( , ; 8 May 189923 March 1992), often referred to by his initials F. A. Hayek, was an Austrian-British economist, and philosopher who is best known for his defence of classical liberalism. Hayek shared the 1974 Nob ...
for her defence of liberal economics. Groups associated with this tradition include the No Turning Back (political group), No Turning Back Group and Conservative Way Forward, whilst Enoch Powell and Keith Joseph are usually cited as early influences in the movement. Some free-market supporters and Christian Democrats within the party tend to advocate the Social Market Economy, which supports free markets alongside social and environmental responsibility, as well a welfare state. Joseph was the first to introduce the model idea into British politics, writing the publication: ''Why Britain needs a Social Market Economy''.


Relationships between the factions

Sometimes two groupings have united to oppose the third. Both Thatcherite and Traditionalist Conservatives rebelled over Europe (and in particular Maastricht) during
John Major Sir John Major (born 29 March 1943) is a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1990 to 1997. He served in the Third Thatcher mi ...

John Major
's premiership; and Traditionalist and One Nation MPs united to inflict Margaret Thatcher's only major defeat in Parliament, over Sunday trading. Not all Conservative MPs can be easily placed within one of the above groupings. For example, John Major was the ostensibly "Thatcherite" candidate during the 1990 Conservative Party leadership election, 1990 leadership election, but he consistently promoted One-Nation Conservatives to the higher reaches of his cabinet during his time as Prime Minister. These included Kenneth Clarke as Chancellor of the Exchequer and
Michael Heseltine Michael Ray Dibdin Heseltine, Baron Heseltine, (; born 21 March 1933) is a British politician and businessman. Having begun his career as a property developer, he became one of the founders of the publishing house Haymarket. Heseltine served a ...
as Deputy Prime Minister.


Electoral performance and campaigns

National campaigning within the Conservative Party is fundamentally managed by Conservative Campaign Headquarters#Campaigning, the CCHQ campaigning team, which is part of its central office However, it also delegates local responsibility to Conservative associations in the area, usually to a team of Conservative activists and volunteers in that area, but campaigns are still deployed from and thus managed by Conservative Campaign Headquarters, CCHQ National campaigning sometimes occurs in-house by volunteers and staff at CCHQ in Westminster. CCHQ maintains responsibility overall for campaigning in the Conservative Party, and targeting voters The ''Voter Communications Department'' is line-managed by the Conservative Director of Communications who upholds overall responsibility, though she has many staff supporting her, and the whole of CCHQ at election time, her department being one of the most predominant at this time, including Project Managers, Executive Assistants, Politicians, and Volunteers. The Conservative Party also has regional call centres and VoteSource do-it-from-home accounts.


UK-wide elections


UK general elections

This chart shows the electoral performance of the Conservative Party in List of United Kingdom general elections, each general election since 1835. For results of the Tories, the party's predecessor, see Tories (British political party)#Electoral performance, here. ;Note:


European Parliament elections

;Note:


Police and Crime Commissioner elections


Devolved assembly elections


Scottish Parliament elections


Senedd elections


Northern Ireland devolved elections

''Prior to 1973, the Ulster Unionist Party acted as the de facto Northern Ireland branch of the Conservative Party. The UUP's results may be seen Ulster Unionist Party#Stormont, here.''


London Mayoral elections


London Assembly elections


Combined authority elections


Associated groups


Ideological groups

* Tory Reform Group * Conservative Mainstream * Bright Blue (organisation), Bright Blue * One Nation Conservatives (caucus), One Nation Conservatives * Conservative Way Forward * Cornerstone Group * Selsdon Group * The Monday Club


Interest groups

* Conservative Friends of Israel * Conservative Friends of Turkey * Conservative Friends of the Chinese * LGBT+ Conservatives * Bruges Group (United Kingdom), Bruges Group * Conservative Christian Fellowship * Conservative Muslim Forum


Think tanks

* European Foundation (think tank), European Foundation * Bow Group * Centre for Policy Studies


Alliances

*
International Democrat Union The International Democrat Union (IDU) is an international alliance of right-of-centre Centre-right politics (British English) or center-right politics (American English), also referred to as moderate-right politics, lean to the Right-win ...

International Democrat Union
* European Democrat Union * Economic League (United Kingdom), Economic League * European Conservatives and Reformists * European Democrat Group * Alliance of European Conservatives and Reformists * Ulster Conservatives and Unionists – New Force


Party structures

* Scottish Conservatives * Welsh Conservatives * Northern Ireland Conservatives * London Conservatives * 1922 Committee * Conservative Party Archive * Conservative Research Department * Conservative Women's Organisation * Young Conservatives (UK), Young Conservatives * Conservative Future Scotland


See also

* History of the Conservative Party (UK) * List of conservative parties by country * List of Conservative Party MPs (UK) * List of Conservative Party (UK) general election manifestos * List of political parties in the United Kingdom * Politics of the United Kingdom


Notes


Further reading

* Bale, Tim. ''The Conservatives since 1945: the Drivers of Party Change''. (2012, Oxford University Press ) * * Ball, Stuart. ''Portrait of a Party: The Conservative Party in Britain 1918–1945'' (Oxford UP, 2013). * Beer, Samuel. "The Conservative Party of Great Britain," ''Journal of Politics'' 14#1 (February 1952), pp. 41–7
in JSTOR
* * Blake, Robert and Louis William Roger, eds. ''Churchill: A Major New Reassessment of His Life in Peace and War'' (Oxford UP, 1992), 581 pp; 29 essays by scholars on specialized topics * Blake, Robert. ''The Conservative Party From Peel To Churchill'' (1970
online
* Bulmer-Thomas, Ivor. ''The Growth of the British Party System Volume I: 1640–1923'' (1965); ''The Growth of the British Party System Volume II: 1924–1964, revised to 1966 Conservative-Labour Confrontation'' (1967) * Campbell, John. ''Margaret Thatcher; Volume Two: The Iron Lady'' (Pimlico (2003). * Charmley, John. "Tories and Conservatives." in David Brown, Robert Crowcroft, and Gordon Pentland eds., ''The Oxford Handbook of Modern British Political History, 1800–2000'' (2018): 306. * Dorey, Peter; Garnett, Mark; Denham, Andrew. ''From Crisis to Coalition: The Conservative Party, 1997–2010'' (2011) Palgrave Macmillan.
excerpt and text search
* . ''British conservatism: the politics and philosophy of inequality'' (IB Tauris, 2010), Covers more than just political party. * Ensor, R. C. K. ''England, 1870–1914''
online
, passim. * * Garnett, Mark, and Philip Lynch. ''The conservatives in crisis: the Tories after 1997'' (1994) * Green, E. H. H. ''Ideologies of conservatism: conservative political ideas in the twentieth century'' (2004) * Green, E. H. H. ''The Crisis of Conservatism: The Politics, Economics and Ideology of the British Conservative Party, 1880–1914'' (1995). * . ''The Crisis of conservatism: The politics, economics, and ideology of the British Conservative Party, 1880–1914'' (1996) * Robert Harris (author), Harris, Robert. ''The Conservatives – A History'' (2011) Bantam Press * Hayton, Richard, and Andrew Scott Crines, eds. ''Conservative orators from Baldwin to Cameron'' (2015). * Hazell, Robert and Ben Yong, eds. ''The Politics of Coalition: How the Conservative-Liberal Democrat Government Works'' (Hart Publishing, 2012). * Heppell, Timothy, an David Seawright, eds. ''Cameron and the Conservatives: The Transition to Coalition Government'' (Palgrave Macmillan, 2012). * King, Anthony, ed. ''British Political Opinion 1937–2000: The Gallup Polls'' (2001) * Lawrence, Jon. ''Electing Our Masters: The Hustings in British Politics from Hogarth to Blair'' (Oxford University Press, 2009
excerpt and text search
* McKenzie, R. T., and A. Silver. ''Angels in Marble: Working-class Conservatives in Urban England'' (1968) * Mowat, Charles Loch. ''Britain between the Wars, 1918–1940'' (1955) 694 pp; * Norton, Bruce F. ''Politics in Britain'' (2007) textbook * Parry, J. P. "Disraeli and England," ''Historical Journal'' 43#3 (2000), pp. 699–72
in JSTOR
* * Powell, David. ''British Politics, 1910–1935: The Crisis of the Party System'' (2004) * Roberts, Andrew. ''Churchill: Walking with Destiny'' (2018), a fully detailed biography. * Reitan, Earl Aaron. ''The Thatcher Revolution: Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Tony Blair, and the Transformation of Modern Britain, 1979–2001'' (2003) Rowman & Littlefield. * Searle, G. R. ''A New England?: Peace and War 1886–1918'' (2005) 976pp broad survey * Seldon, Anthony and Stuart Ball, eds.'' Conservative Century: The Conservative Party since 1900'' (1994) 896pp; essays by expert
Contents
* Shannon, Richard. ''The Age of Disraeli, 1868–1881: The Rise of Tory Democracy'' (A History of the Conservative Party Series) (1992) * Shannon, Richard. ''The Age of Salisbury, 1881–1902: Unionism and Empire'' (A History of the Conservative Party) (1996) * Peter Snowdon, Snowdon, Peter. ''Back from the Brink: The Extraordinary Fall and Rise of the Conservative Party'' (2010) HarperPress * Taylor, A. J. P. ''English History, 1914–1945'' (1965), a standard political history of the era * Thackeray, David. "Home and Politics: Women and Conservative Activism in Early Twentieth‐Century Britain," ''Journal of British Studies'' (2010) 49#4 pp. 826–48. * Windscheffel, Alex. "Men or Measures? Conservative Party Politics, 1815–1951," ''Historical Journal'' Vol. 45, No. 4 (December 2002), pp. 937–5
in JSTOR


Historiography

* Crowson, N. J., ed. ''The Longman Companion to the Conservative Party Since 1830'' (2001); chronologies; relations with women, minorities, trade unions, EU, Ireland, social reform and empire. * Harrison, Brian. "Margaret Thatcher's Impact on Historical Writing", in William Roger Louis, ed., ''Irrepressible Adventures with Britannia: Personalities, Politics, and Culture in Britain'' (London, 2013), 307–21. * Kowol, Kit. "Renaissance on the Right? New Directions in the History of the Post-War Conservative Party." ''Twentieth Century British History'' 27#2 (2016): 290–304. online * Porter, Bernard. "'Though Not an Historian Myself…'Margaret Thatcher and the Historians." ''Twentieth Century British History'' 5#2 (1994): 246–56. * Turner, John. "The British Conservative Party in the Twentieth Century: from Beginning to End?." ''Contemporary European History'' 8#2 (1999): 275–87.


External links

*
Conservatives.tv

Conservatives in Northern Ireland

Conservatives in Scotland

Constitution of the Conservative Party

conservative-party.net
– Conservative website directory
Guardian Politics
– Special Report: Conservative Party
The Thatcher legacy 1979–2009
– International conference * {{Authority control Conservative Party (UK), 1834 establishments in the United Kingdom Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe member parties Conservative parties in the United Kingdom Centre-right parties in Europe European Conservatives and Reformists member parties International Democrat Union member parties Political parties established in 1834 Toryism Politics of the United Kingdom articles needing expert attention