Conservative thinkers

The key contributors to the political thought of the modern Conservative Party

Mark Garnett
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Kevin Hickson
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This book is an analysis of the political thought of the Conservative Party. Academic discussions of the Conservative Party have tended to neglect ideology, focusing instead on the 'pragmatic' nature of the Party and its electoral and governmental record. The book traces the ideology of the Conservative Party through its most prominent thinkers. These are Harold Macmillan; R. A. Butler; Quintin Hogg (Lord Hailsham); Enoch Powell; Angus Maude; Keith Joseph; the traditionalists; the 'wets' (most notably Ian Gilmour); John Redwood; and David Willetts. These are the individuals considered by the authors to have made the most important contributions to the political thought of the Conservative Party. Some of them did so through the publication of a major book or even in some cases a series of books. The book provokes two theoretical issues and it is the purpose of the introduction to deal with these head-on. The first relates to the nature of the Conservative Party, which many commentators argue is not an ideological entity. The most widely cited academic perspective of this sort is the 'statecraft' thesis first outlined by James Bulpitt, who argued that the Conservative Party is in fact a pragmatic movement committed above all to winning elections and maintaining power. The second issue raised here is that of why and how the authors have selected the individual thinkers and overlooked others with plausible claims to influence.

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