Richard Hayton
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Thatcher’s legacy
Late-twentieth-century conservatism in context
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Chapter 2 considers the context faced by the Conservative Party upon entering opposition in 1997, following the degeneration of John Major’s government and landslide election defeat. This unfavourable environment is explored through the problems faced by the Conservatives on both the electoral and ideational dimensions. The electoral context is considered in terms of the party’s opinion poll rating and public image, particularly with regard to the key issue of management of the economy. The work of three Conservative thinkers (John Gray, Ian Gilmour, and David Willetts) is used to consider the intellectual response of conservatism to the Thatcherite legacy. This ideological uncertainty over the direction of Conservative politics after Thatcher is an important frame of the debates in the party post-1997, from Hague through to Cameron.

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Reconstructing conservatism?

The Conservative Party in opposition, 1997–2010


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