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The Big Society narrative
Timothy Heppell

Chapter 4 builds upon the discussion in chapter 3 which had focused on economic decline under Labour and how the Conservatives attempted to exploit this. Chapter 4 will identify how this was aligned to a wider critique of Labour based around social decline. It will consider how the broken economic and social policy agendas of Labour were used by the Conservatives to justify a shift away from Big Government, and towards their new governing strategy of the Big Society. The chapter will provide a critique of the Big Society, and the cynicism it provoked within Conservative ranks, before arguing that it should be seen within the context of depoliticisation. Chapter 4 will imply that the Big Society slogan was a rhetorical device for Cameron – i.e. it masked an ideologically motivated strategy to adjust the balance between the state and society. Therefore, chapter 4 will argue that the Big Society narrative should be seen within the context of (a) shifting public expectations of what the state should be responsible for, and (b) limiting the extent to which the state can be blamed.

in Cameron
Restyling and reconstructing Conservatism
Timothy Heppell

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.

in Cameron
An interview with Rory Montgomery
Graham Spencer

This chapter focuses on the value of text, language and how the Good Friday Agreement was constructed. It explores the role of text in creating momentum and interrogates its function as an instrument of persuasion.

in Inside Accounts, Volume II
An interview with Martin Mansergh
Graham Spencer

This chapter details the dialogue with republicans that led to the IRA ceasefire of 1994 and how the formative stages of the peace process took shape through confidential contacts and channels

in Inside Accounts, Volume I
Abstract only
Graham Spencer

The conclusion summarises the key elements that shaped attempts to build peace in Northern Ireland and highlights the value of a common approach to dialogue and negotiation as well as the need for a coherent strategy to support political aspiration and objectives.

in Inside Accounts, Volume I
Abstract only
Graham Spencer

The conclusion draws together the main strands of the interview findings and reiterates the key shifts that occurred from the Good Friday Agreement on. It highlights the problems involved in implementing the structures of peace and notes how a shift from ambiguity to clarity as a peace process goes on can create problems of rigidity and intransigence which make the promise of peace harder to achieve and can sour political relations as a result.

in Inside Accounts, Volume II
An interview with Tim O’Connor
Graham Spencer

This chapter identifies how a consensual approach to negotiations was developed between the Irish and British Governments and how this approach informed understanding about what an agreement would look like.

in Inside Accounts, Volume I
An interview with Noel Dorr
Graham Spencer

This chapter explores how the Irish worked to shape the course of Sunningdale, what went wrong, what happened afterwards and how relations developed between Dublin and the British, moving towards the Anglo-Irish Agreement and the increased role of Irish involvement in the affairs of Northern Ireland.

in Inside Accounts, Volume I
An interview with Bertie Ahern
Graham Spencer

This chapter is concerned with how leadership operates in a peace process and examines how decisions were used to reinforce leadership goals and objectives in order to increase the possibilities of agreement

in Inside Accounts, Volume II
An interview with Wally Kirwan
Graham Spencer

This chapter examines how the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation informed approaches to negotiation and looks at how the tensions of North-South relations were played out through Strand Two of the negotiations.

in Inside Accounts, Volume II