Philip Lynch
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Nationhood and identity in Conservative politics

This chapter examines the Conservative politics of nationhood under William Hague, focusing on the 'English Question' and the politics of 'race'. Hague emphasised the importance of the nation to British Conservatism and sought to renew the party's position as the champion of the nation in the light of new challenges. Two broad visions of British identity are evident in contemporary British political discourse. The first is a pluralist perspective on Britishness that emphasises the multinational character of the UK state and seeks an updated British identity. The second is an authoritarian individualist perspective, primarily associated with Thatcherite Conservatives, which views enterprise, individual liberty and state authority as the key attributes of British identity. The significance of the nation in Conservative politics was evident in policy on Europe, constitutional reform and race relations.

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The Conservatives in Crisis

The Tories after 1997

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