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Mark Garnett

Iain Macleod has been a hero to many representatives of the Conservative Party’s ‘One Nation’ tradition. In part, this is because of his death at the age of 56, soon after reaching the pinnacle of his career as Chancellor of the Exchequer. The sense of promise unfulfilled is reinforced by the fact that, unlike so many senior figures on the Tory ‘left’, he was unsullied either by the failures of the Heath Government or the ‘wet’ resistance to Margaret Thatcher. Although Macleod was a notable minister under Churchill, Eden and Macmillan, his glamorous posthumous image derives mainly from his reputation as an orator. Indeed, his ministerial career began as a direct result of a single speech – a witty and well-informed attack on Nye Bevan in March 1952, which Churchill heard with admiration. He continued to be a feared parliamentary debater, known for his acidic wit. As party chairman (1961-3) he could be relied upon to cheer the grassroots with incisive attacks on Labour. He was also an able communicator with the voters, in campaign speeches or on television.

in Conservative orators from Baldwin to Cameron
Mark Garnett

No serious student of Labour Party history could deny Tony Benn a prominent place in a roll-call of the party's best public speakers. Benn's argument has an excellent pedigree, stretching back at least to Socrates' complaints about the Athenian Sophists. This chapter argues that Benn should in fact be classed as an orator who made use of logos, pathos and ethos, albeit in a highly distinctive fashion. It analyses his ideological development, as well as a summary of the major episodes in his career within the Labour movement. Benn's oratorical apprenticeship began in an auspicious nursery, the Oxford Union, which he served as president in 1947, after returning from his own war service. Benn 'had no emotional mechanism for dealing with failure'. In terms of ethos, Benn's career as an orator is even less consistent with his self-evaluation.

in Labour orators from Bevan to Miliband
Open Access (free)
The leadership gamble of William Hague
Mark Garnett

Writing in 1977, Conservative MP Nigel Fisher identified 'two qualifying conditions' for Tory leaders: 'a lengthy spell in Parliament and considerable Cabinet experience'. Before the advent of economic liberalism the Tory Party believed in hierarchy, so it was hardly a surprise that its members should place special emphasis on the leadership role. William Hague had good reason to be petrified of Margaret Thatcher, who during the leadership campaign had saddled him with what was perhaps the least welcome endorsement in British political history. John Redwood's supporters underlined the resemblance during the leadership campaign, referring to Hague as 'John Major with A levels'. Lord Parkinson rightly praises Hague's reorganisation of his party. No one can argue that Hague was an electoral asset to his party.

in The Conservatives in Crisis
Ideology and the Conservative Party, 1997–2001
Mark Garnett

In the wake of election defeats in 1970, 1974 and 1979 both the Labour Party and the Conservatives held prolonged inquests into the reasons for their apparent failures in office. The 1975 Conservative leadership contest, in which Edward Heath was defeated by Margaret Thatcher, took place against a background of fierce ideological conflict between what came to be known as economic 'wets' and 'dries'. The nature of British conservatism has been vigorously contested for much of the post-war period, and after the electoral meltdown of 1997 it was reasonable to expect a flurry of impassioned speeches and pamphlets, setting out rival interpretations. Conservative Party practice after 1979 supports the view that electoral recovery need not bear any relation to ideological clarity, or even unity.

in The Conservatives in Crisis
The Tories after 1997
Editors: and

The Conservative Party's survival as a significant political force was now open to serious question for the first time since the crisis over the Corn Laws. The Labour Party has commanded a fairly consistent level of attention, whether in office or in opposition. But it seems that the Conservatives are fated to be regarded either as unavoidable or irrelevant. This book presents an analysis that suggests that the party leader plays a less important role in Conservative recoveries than a distinctive policy programme and an effective party organization. It examines the Conservative position on a series of key issues, highlighting the difficult dilemmas which confronted the party after 1997, notably on economic policy. New Labour's acceptance of much of the main thrust of Thatcherite economic policy threw the Conservatives off balance. The pragmatism of this new position and the 'In Europe, not run by Europe' platform masked a significant move towards Euro-skepticism. The book also traces how the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Parties adapted to the creation of the Scottish Parliament, exploring the re-organisation of the Scottish party, its electoral fortunes and political prospects in the new Scottish politics. It examines issues of identity and nationhood in Conservative politics in the 1997-2001 period, focusing on the 'English Question' and the politics of 'race'. The predictable results of the Conservatives' failure to develop an attractive, consistent narrative are then analysed. Right-wing populist parties with charismatic leaders enjoyed some electoral success under the proportional representation systems in 2002.

The key contributors to the political thought of the modern Conservative Party

This book is an analysis of the political thought of the Conservative Party. Academic discussions of the Conservative Party have tended to neglect ideology, focusing instead on the 'pragmatic' nature of the Party and its electoral and governmental record. The book traces the ideology of the Conservative Party through its most prominent thinkers. These are Harold Macmillan; R. A. Butler; Quintin Hogg (Lord Hailsham); Enoch Powell; Angus Maude; Keith Joseph; the traditionalists; the 'wets' (most notably Ian Gilmour); John Redwood; and David Willetts. These are the individuals considered by the authors to have made the most important contributions to the political thought of the Conservative Party. Some of them did so through the publication of a major book or even in some cases a series of books. The book provokes two theoretical issues and it is the purpose of the introduction to deal with these head-on. The first relates to the nature of the Conservative Party, which many commentators argue is not an ideological entity. The most widely cited academic perspective of this sort is the 'statecraft' thesis first outlined by James Bulpitt, who argued that the Conservative Party is in fact a pragmatic movement committed above all to winning elections and maintaining power. The second issue raised here is that of why and how the authors have selected the individual thinkers and overlooked others with plausible claims to influence.

Abstract only
Mark Garnett
and
Kevin Hickson

This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book presents an analysis of the political thought of the Conservative Party. It traces the ideology of the Conservative Party through its most prominent thinkers. A number of commentators have argued that the Conservative Party is free from ideology. This has been argued by prominent Conservatives themselves and was frequently heard in the 1980s as opponents of Thatcherism claimed that Margaret Thatcher had brought in something alien to the Conservative Party ideology. The book distinguishes between four main ideological traditions present in the Conservative Party since 1945: traditional Toryism, New Right, Centrist and One Nation. The interrelationship between conservative and liberal elements within the New Right can be seen in the work of Enoch Powell, who combined a strong sense of national identity with free-market economic policies.

in Conservative thinkers
Abstract only
Mark Garnett
and
Kevin Hickson

According to the late Ewen Green, 'Harold Macmillan was the most self-consciously intellectual Conservative leader of the twentieth century'. This chapter argues that there were two Macmillans, the pre-war intellectual, and the post-war opportunist. From this perspective, it is possible to understand his ambiguous contribution to the development of ideas within the Conservative Party. His most important work, The Middle Way, capped a series of volumes which were written either singly or in cooperation with others. The nickname 'Supermac', originally bestowed on Macmillan by the hostile cartoonist 'Vicky', ended up being regarded as a tribute to his preternatural political powers. In practice, probably the most important legacy of Macmillan's pre-war thought was the credence it gave to the argument that the post-war Conservative leadership had made a conscious accommodation with 'socialism', which amounted to a betrayal of the party.

in Conservative thinkers
Mark Garnett
and
Kevin Hickson

Ironies abounded in the political career of Richard Austen Butler. If Butler's political ambitions were not realised, at least his role in the development of post-war Conservatism is rarely disputed. The 1944 Education Act exemplified Butler's view of politics as 'the art of the possible'. Butler's strategy was informed by an awareness that, given the range of opposition to educational reform, it would be easier to thrash out an agreement on reform in the unusual conditions of wartime. Ultimately the chief importance of The Industrial Charter lies in its whole-hearted embrace of the 'Keynesian' approach to economic management. This, presumably, was what Butler meant when he claimed that the party was now 'on the fairway of modern economic and social thought'. While Cub Alport's loyalty to Butler was beyond question, other contributors to One Nation were linked to him through their previous work for the Party.

in Conservative thinkers
Mark Garnett
and
Kevin Hickson

Quintin Hogg, Lord Hailsham, developed political ambitions at an early age. The Tory Reform Committee, which proceeded to issue a series of pamphlets on such topical issues as workmen's compensation, civil aviation, agriculture and land utilisation. In a contemporary account, Hogg reported that the committee 'has a proper executive to prepare its agenda, and meets every Wednesday evening in the House of Commons to discuss current affairs and to take common action on all business in the coming week'. In 1947 Hogg was asked to write a Penguin 'special', setting out The Case for Conservatism. It is probably his best-known book, and contains some memorable aphorisms. In debate on the Labour's 1968 Race Relations Bill, Hogg argued unavailingly that its terms should be extended to outlaw all irrelevant forms of discrimination, and he spoke eloquently against Enoch Powell at the 1968 party conference.

in Conservative thinkers