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Commentary 3 The Conservatives, 1997–2001
A party in crisis?

Coming out of the worst election defeat since the Liberal landslide of 1906, there was a remarkable sense of optimism amongst Conservatives in the summer of 1997. The election of William Hague as the new leader gave focus to the growing sense that the party was beginning its renewal. Hague won the leadership election on a clear platform on the European issue. The success of the Conservative Party in the May 2003 elections triggered a change in strategy by Duncan Smith. That change in strategy looked remarkably similar to that adopted by Hague after his claims of success in the 1999 European Parliament elections. The right-wing turn that Hague had taken in the run-up to the June 1999 European Parliament elections became accentuated afterwards. The libertarian agenda pursued by Hague and his attempts to reform the party were conceived in isolation from mainstream policy-making.

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The Conservatives in Crisis

The Tories after 1997

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