Richard Hayton
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A new moral agenda?
Social liberalism and traditionalism
in Reconstructing conservatism?
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Chapter 6 examines party policy and rhetoric on social, sexual and moral issues between 1997 and 2010. It focuses on the Conservative approach to gay rights (notably the disputes over Section 28 and adoption rights for gay couples), and family policy (particularly with regard to attitudes towards marriage). The Conservatives were forced to consider their positions on these issues in response to the New Labour government’s moves to equalise the age of consent, abolish Section 28, introduce civil partnerships, scrap the married couples tax allowance and introduce a system of tax credits not dependent on marriage. These debates are linked to the wider question of party modernisation, and the division between modernisers and traditionalists. The chapter suggests that the most significant division in the Conservative Party in this period was along the social, sexual, and moral policy divide, and that this posed a significant challenge to David Cameron.

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Reconstructing conservatism?

The Conservative Party in opposition, 1997–2010


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