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Britain’s Conservatives and Labour compared

This book is a seminal study of political leadership selection using two of the main parties in British politics as case studies. They have been selected for their dominance of British politics over the course of recent political history. Indeed, the Conservative Party has held office for much of the twentieth century because it was able to project an image of leadership competence and governing credibility. In contrast, the Labour Party’s record in government is shorter because of issues of economic management, leadership credibility and ideological splits due to various interpretations of socialism. Despite these differing track records, both parties have dominated the British political landscape, with occasional interventions from the Liberal Democrats. As an academically informed study, this book explores the criteria by which political leaders are selected by their parties. To do this the book explores the ongoing relevance of Stark’s criteria of effective leadership by adapting it to identify more skills needed to explain how and why some leaders are able to dominate the political scene. The Conservatives tend to choose unifying figures who can lead them to victory, while the Labour Party opts for leaders more likely to unite the party behind ideological renewal. The book also explores the political choices of contemporary leaders, including Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn. Johnson was selected in response to the perceived leadership failures of his predecessor, while Corbyn’s selection represents an ideological shift to the hard left as a response to New Labour and the professionalisation of the centre-left.

Power, accountability and democracy

Does European integration contribute to, or even accelerate, the erosion of intra-party democracy? This book is about improving our understanding of political parties as democratic organisations in the context of multi-level governance. It analyses the impact of European Union (EU) membership on power dynamics, focusing on the British Labour Party, the French Socialist Party (PS), and the German Social Democratic Party (SPD). The purpose of this book is to investigate who within the three parties determines EU policies and selects EU specialists, such as the candidates for European parliamentary elections and EU spokespersons.

The book utilises a principal-agent framework to investigate the delegation of power inside the three parties across multiple levels and faces. It draws on over 65 original interviews with EU experts from the three national parties and the Party of European Socialists (PES) and an e-mail questionnaire. This book reveals that European policy has largely remained in the hands of the party leadership. Its findings suggest that the party grassroots are interested in EU affairs, but that interest rarely translates into influence, as information asymmetry between the grassroots and the party leadership makes it very difficult for local activists to scrutinise elected politicians and to come up with their own policy proposals. As regards the selection of EU specialists, such as candidates for the European parliamentary elections, this book highlights that the parties’ processes are highly political, often informal, and in some cases, undemocratic.

Andrew Denham, Andrew S. Roe-Crines and Peter Dorey

When the Conservative leadership rules had been devised in 1965 and then revised in 1975, they deliberately denied the extra-parliamentary party a formal input, reflecting the firm belief that MPs were best placed to make judgements about who should lead them. Provision was made for the Conservative Party beyond Parliament to express its preferences, but on a purely consultative basis; the party’s MPs were under no obligation to vote in accordance with the views expressed by members of the extra-parliamentary party. Moreover, as Conservative MPs voted by

in Choosing party leaders
Andrew Denham, Andrew S. Roe-Crines and Peter Dorey

Having adopted a system whereby Conservative leaders would subsequently be elected by a secret ballot of the party’s MPs, pressure for an immediate leadership election almost inevitably increased, particularly in view of the controversy which had surrounded Home’s appointment in 1963 and the doubts raised by some former ministers about the accuracy or reliability of the figures cited as evidence of support for him. The subsequent election of Heath heralded a new era for the Conservatives, not solely in terms of intra-party democracy, but because the next three

in Choosing party leaders
Arthur Aughey

1 Conservatism and the party When he reflected on the rights of men, Edmund Burke (1969: 153) observed that they are in a sort of middle ground, ‘incapable of definition, but not impossible to be discerned’. Something similar can be said about the word ‘Conservative’. That judgement does not invest the Conservative Party with a mystical character; it is merely to observe that any simplistic formulation of its politics or of its identity would not do justice to its institutional and historical complexity. The word Conservative contains wide varieties of

in The Conservative Party and the nation
Isabelle Hertner

1 1 Centre-​left parties and the European Union Does European integration contribute to, or even accelerate, the erosion of intra-​ party democracy? This book is about improving our understanding of political parties as democratic organisations in the context of multi-​level governance. More specifically, it analyses the impact of European Union (EU) membership on intra-​party power dynamics. The book takes as its focus the British Labour Party, the French Socialist Party (Parti Socialiste, PS), and the German Social Democratic Party (Sozialdemokratische

in Centre-left parties and the European Union
Union, England and Europe
Author: Arthur Aughey

This book focuses on the idea of the nation in Conservative Party politics. It represents an attempt to make sense of the way in which flows of sympathy from the past help to shape the changing patterns of Conservatism in the present; it does so by examining one of the party's preoccupations: its claim to be the 'national party'. The first three chapters are concerned mainly with flows of sympathy within Conservatism, the currents of which can still be traced today. The character (or political culture) of the Conservative Party is explored and the significance of the nation in its self-understanding is discussed. The book considers the interconnection of party and patriotism by revisiting one of the key texts for a previous generation, Andrew Gamble's The Conservative Nation. Andrew Gamble believed that Conservative leaders have always been uneasily aware of the fragility of the political raft upon they sail on democratic waters. The book assesses the changing influence on party competition of class and nation, especially how this influences the Conservative Party's electoral identity. It also reflects the impact on the Conservative nation of the British, English and European Questions. A postscript considers the impact of the 2017 general election and makes some final reflections on the party.

Prisoners of the past
Author: Richard Jobson

This book examines the impact that nostalgia has had on the Labour Party’s political development since 1951. In contrast to existing studies that have emphasised the role played by modernity, it argues that nostalgia has defined Labour’s identity and determined the party’s trajectory over time. It outlines how Labour, at both an elite and a grassroots level, has been and remains heavily influenced by a nostalgic commitment to an era of heroic male industrial working-class struggle. This commitment has hindered policy discussion, determined the form that the modernisation process has taken and shaped internal conflict and cohesion. More broadly, Labour’s emotional attachment to the past has made it difficult for the party to adjust to the socioeconomic changes that have taken place in Britain. In short, nostalgia has frequently left the party out of touch with the modern world. In this way, this book offers an assessment of Labour’s failures to adapt to the changing nature and demands of post-war Britain.

Richard Jobson

4 Reinventing the Labour Party, 1983–92 Introduction New Labour’s ‘year-zero’ approach to politics and its advocacy of the idea that it represented a fundamental rupture with the party’s past meant that it was never entirely comfortable locating the genesis of its ‘modernising’ programme in the years during which Neil Kinnock was party leader. As we shall see in the next chapter, Tony Blair made it clear that he believed he (and, effectively, John Smith before him) had inherited a party that was still in thrall of its nostalgia. Central to this analysis was the

in Nostalgia and the post-war Labour Party
Isabelle Hertner

78 4 Principals, agents, and the delegation of power inside political parties This chapter sets out the principal–​agent framework of power delegation that will be applied to the Labour Party, Parti Socialiste (PS), and the Sozialdemokratische Partei Deutschlands (SPD) in Chapters 5, 6, and 7. Over a hundred years ago, the German sociologist Robert Michels (1911) pioneered the study of centre-​left party organisations, with a focus on the SPD. He argued that, due to the growing membership size, members could no longer participate directly in the parties

in Centre-left parties and the European Union