Timothy Heppell
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The politics of detoxification
Restyling and reconstructing Conservatism
in Cameron
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Chapter 2 considers the modernisation of the Conservative Party under Cameron from an internal perspective, focusing in on the politics of detoxification. It considers the extent to which change within the Conservative Party occurred under Cameron. The term detoxification reflects the perception that the Conservative brand was toxic, and that electoral recovery was dependent on distancing themselves from the negatives that had disfigured them in the post-Thatcherite era. The chapter will chart how Cameron set about (a) restyling the image of party by the promotion of a socially liberal brand of Conservatism; and (b) reconstructing modern Conservatism – or the extent to which social liberalism was accepted by the PCP. The chapter will argue that change did occur, but that there were limits to the scale of change that Cameron could impose upon his party. The chapter will examine the main themes associated with modernised Conservatism and will argue that their commitment to these themes, once in government, was patchy and inconsistent. It will, however, emphasise that progress was made in terms of international aid and same-sex marriage.

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The politics of modernisation and manipulation


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