Stuart Ball
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The Conservatives in opposition, 1906–79
A comparative analysis

The experience of being in opposition for a lengthy period is not the one which the modern Conservative Party is used to, and it has tended to find it difficult. During the twentieth century, the Conservative Party had seven periods in opposition. This chapter provides a context for the period since 1997, by considering the other six. It considers the issues and factors, which have determined the effectiveness of the Conservative Party in opposition. In the Conservative Party, the leader's position has always depended upon the parliamentary party; the introduction of an election procedure in 1965 merely formalised this. The Conservatives in opposition tend to mix the desire to act as if still wearing the mantle of government to appear sober, responsible, consistent and wise with partisanship and tactical manoeuvre. The pattern of relative Liberal weakness of Labour government has assisted Conservative recovery.

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The Conservatives in Crisis

The Tories after 1997

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