Historians and political scientists have deemed the twentieth century 'the Conservative Century', owing to the electoral and cultural dominance of the Conservative Party in Britain. This book traces the relationship among women, gender and the Conservative Party from the 1880s to the present, and thereby seeks to fill that gap. A gender inclusive approach allows for a more nuanced understanding of political machinations, power and the unprecedented popularity of both conservatism and unionism in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The suffragette Christabel Pankhurst, was regarded as a charismatic, radical figure, who was the co-leader of the Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), a notorious suffrage organization campaigning for the parliamentary vote for women in Edwardian Britain. In 1928 Lady Iveagh, Vice-Chairman of the National Union of Conservative Associations (NUCA), claimed that one million women were members of the Conservative Party. The book focuses on how the Primrose League re-made itself for its female members between 1914 and 1932. It shows that the Conservative Party leadership and male candidates were keen to present themselves as the champions of home interests, playing up their family-man credentials against their rowdy electoral culture of Labour. The book also examines inquires how the deliberate choice of middlebrow rhetoric as well as the language of citizenship enabled Conservative women to construct a cross-class language of democracy. It explores British conservatism, highlighting the history of the Tory Party as part of the study of women and their sectional interest in 'the politics of gender'.
Clarisse Berthezène and Julie V. Gottlieb
Historians and political scientists have deemed the twentieth century ‘the
ConservativeCentury’, owing to the electoral and cultural dominance of the
Conservative Party in Britain. While the turn of the twenty-first century portended
something rather different, as a Cool Britannia-Blairite-New Labourite political
class inaugurated the new millennium, and the Labour Party governed from 1997 to
2010, since then, and even more so in the fallout of Britain’s recent EU Referendum
(June 2016), it looks
English radicalism has been a deep-rooted but minority tradition in the political culture since at least the seventeenth century. The central aim of this book is to examine, in historical and political context, a range of key events and individuals that exemplify English radicalism in the twentieth century. This analysis is preceded by defining precisely what has constituted this tradition; and by the main outline of the development of the tradition from the Civil War to the end of the nineteenth century. Three of the main currents of English radicalism in the twentieth century have been the labour movement, the women’s movement and the peace movement. These are discussed in some detail, as a framework for the detailed consideration of ten key representative figures of the tradition in the twentieth century: Bertrand Russell, Sylvia Pankhurst, Ellen Wilkinson, George Orwell, E.P. Thompson, Michael Foot, Joan Maynard, Stuart Hall, Tony Benn and Nicolas Walter. The question of ‘agency’ – of how to bring about radical change in a predominantly conservative society and culture – has been a fundamental issue for English radicals. It is argued that, in the twentieth century, many of the important achievements in progressive politics have taken place in and through extra-parliamentary movements, as well as through formal political parties and organisations – the Labour Party and other socialist organisations – and on occasion, through libertarian and anarchist politics. The final chapter considers the continuing relevance of this political tradition in the early twenty-first century, and reviews its challenges and prospects.
enjoyed’, is that realistic lists of ‘Conservative principles’ will have the ‘nation’
in its proper place – at the top.
1 M. Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics and Other Essays (London, Methuen, 1962),
pp. 169, 174, 175, 178.
2 See, for example, J. Gray, Enlightenment’s Wake: Politics and Culture at the Close of the
Modern Age (London, Routledge, 1995), pp. 87–119.
3 A. Seldon and P. Snowden, A New ConservativeCentury? (London, Centre for Policy
Studies, 2001), pp. 18–25.
4 Oakeshott, Rationalism in Politics, p. 183.
5 See D
, 1999), p. 106, argued that after a heavy
defeat ‘the party needs to exaggerate the extent to which it has changed’.
6 A. Seldon and P. Snowdon, A New ConservativeCentury? (London, Centre for Policy
Philip Lynch and Mark Garnett
Studies, 2001), pp. 43–6; Butler and Kavanagh, The British General Election of 2001,
See also R. Kelly, ‘Conservatism under Hague: the fatal dilemma’, Political Quarterly,
72:2 (2001) 197–203, and P. Cowley and S. Quayle, ‘The Conservatives: running on
The relationship between conservatism and women, and conservative women
and feminism is in the process of being recalibrated by historians and political scientist. David Cameron’s stated ambition to feminise the Tory Party when he took on
the leadership in 2006, the prominence of feminist-identified figures like Theresa
May when she was the Home Secretary and Louise Bagshawe in government, two
Tory election victories and the post-Brexit party system that strongly suggest that
in Britain we are living in the ‘long Conservativecentury’, and the
many of these accomplishments have endured, in whole or at least in part well
beyond the progressive government which implemented them. In his work on
the evolution of the ‘ConservativeCentury’, Anthony Seldon perceptively argues
that while this description is apt in terms of the Conservatives’ governmental
dominance, it is less uniformly true of its setting of the overall intellectual agenda
of politics (Seldon, 1994: 17). Progressive parties, seeking as they do to change
society, often have a more inherently difficult task in winning elections than
M. Pugh, ‘Hurrah for the Blackshirts!’ Fascists and Fascism in Britain Between the Wars,
Pimlico, London (2006), 6.
G. C. Webber, The Ideology of the British Right, Croom Helm, London (986), 2–4.
M. Blinkhorn (ed.), Fascists and Conservatives: The Radical Right and the Establishment
in Twentieth-century Europe, Unwin Hyman, London (990), 2.
The following is based on S. Ball, ‘The National and Regional Party Structure’, in A.
Seldon and S. Ball (eds), ConservativeCentury: The Conservative Party since 1900,
Oxford University Press, Oxford (994), 69–220.
successful Conservative penetration of Labour strongholds
was worth risking some votes elsewhere, especially in Conservative strongholds in
the south of England. If the election delivered on all these fronts, the result would
presage another ‘Conservativecentury’.
This was a reaction to the Cameron approach which, some thought, had cared
little about what ordinary people thought as if ‘floating in a bubble of privilege above
the common herd’ and acting with ‘too much tactics and not enough authenticity’
(Montgomerie 2011b). If the outcome of the EU referendum intimated a
), Bodleian Library,
CCO/180/27/9; L. Johnman, ‘The Conservative Party in opposition 1964–1970’, in
R. Coopey, S. Fielding and N. Tiratsoo (eds), The Wilson Governments 1964–1970
(London, Pinter, 1993), pp. 202–3.
10 S. Ball, ‘The national and regional party structure’, in A. Seldon and S. Ball (eds),
The Conservatives in opposition, 1906–79
ConservativeCentury: The Conservative Party Since 1900 (Oxford, Oxford University
Press, 1994), pp. 206–7; Dutton, His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition, pp. 128