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Peter Dorey

The Conservative Party encountered considerable difficulty in crafting a coherent package of policies once in opposition after the 1997 election defeat. This chapter examines Conservative policies in seven main areas: the economy, 'tax and spend', law and order, the family and sexual politics, welfare reform and pensions, asylum seekers, and rural affairs. William Hague's Conservative Party faced a particularly difficult task in developing a coherent and popular raft of policies in opposition after the 1997 election defeat. The party's uncertainty and lack of agreement over the most appropriate ideological response to New Labour's landslide victory at the polls was itself a major inhibition in developing consistent policies. Hence the Conservative Party oscillated between advocacy of more tolerant and 'socially inclusive' policies at some junctures, before resorting to more authoritarian populist measures at others.

in The Conservatives in Crisis