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Devolution and party change in Scotland and Wales

This book is the first detailed examination of the Conservative Party beyond the centre after devolution. The Scottish and Welsh Conservative Parties both started out in 1999 with no MPs and a difficult inheritance. They had also both stridently campaigned against devolution. However, since then, the smaller and less autonomous Welsh Conservative Party appears to have staged a recovery, whilst its Scottish counterpart has continued to struggle. This book traces the processes of party change in both parties and explains why the Welsh Conservatives unexpectedly embraced devolution while the Scottish Conservatives took much longer to accept that Westminster was no longer the priority. In considering the drivers of party change at the sub-state level, this book finds that electoral defeat and organisational autonomy mattered less here than we might expect. Although the Welsh Conservatives had less power and money, they also entered the Welsh Assembly with less baggage than the Scottish Conservatives. Renewing unionism was more difficult in Scotland because the Scottish Conservatives could see no route to holding power.

Statewide context
Alan Convery

2 The UK Conservative Party: statewide context This chapter explores the relationship between the statewide Conservative Party and Scotland and Wales. The post-1997 Conservative Party famously took a long time to realise the extent it would have to change in order to regain office (Norris and Lovenduski, 2004; Bale, 2010; Snowdon, 2010). Before going on to examine the territorial Conservative Party in detail, we will consider the wider UK context for the changes that occurred at the sub-state level. The Scottish and Welsh Conservative parties may have been

in The territorial Conservative Party
Rosie Campbell
Sarah Childs

11 The (feminised) contemporary Conservative Party Rosie Campbell and Sarah Childs Introduction The UK Conservative Party, since 2005, is undoubtedly a more feminised institution. The party saw significant increases in the number of Conservative women MPs returned to Westminster at the 2010 and 2015 general elections. It had established new women’s forums for policy debate among its women members, and participated in inter-­party competition for women’s votes, reflecting the interventions of key women party and parliamentary actors over the last three elections

in Rethinking right-wing women
Tim Bale
Paul Webb

7 The evolving Conservative Party membership Tim Bale and Paul Webb Much of the writing on the so-called modernisation of the Conservative Party since 2005 has focused on life at the top (Hayton, 2015). In as much as the grass roots are mentioned, they tend either to be objects – ‘done to’ rather than doing – or else obstacles – a shapeless or stereotyped mass who have occasionally made life awkward for the Conservative leadership, first, by resisting their efforts to change the party’s procedures and policies and, second, by supposedly clinging to attitudes

in David Cameron and Conservative renewal
Union, England and Europe

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.


This book reveals the Conservative Party's relationship with the extreme right between 1945 and 1975. It shows how the Party, realising that its well-documented pre-Second World War connections with the extreme right were now embarrassing, used its bureaucracy to implement a policy of investigating extreme-right groups and taking action to minimise their chances of success. The book focuses on the Conservative Party's investigation of right-wing groups, and shows how its perception of their nature determined the party bureaucracy's response. It draws on extensive information from the Conservative Party Archive, supported by other sources, including interviews with leading players in the events of the 1970s. The book draws a comparison between the Conservative Party machine's negative attitude towards the extreme right and its support for progressive groups. It concludes that the Conservative Party acted as a persistent block to the external extreme right in a number of ways, and that the Party bureaucracy persistently denied the extreme right party assistance, access to funds and representation within party organisations. The book reaches a climax with the formulation of a ‘plan’ threatening its own candidate if he failed to remove the extreme right from the Conservative Monday Club.

Alan Convery

4 Devolution, party change and the Welsh Conservative Party We have parked our tanks on the nationalists’ lawns in a sense. (Interview with Conservative AM 3, 1 March 2012) Introduction This chapter applies the analytical framework outlined in Chapter 2 to the Welsh Conservative Party. It finds that the Welsh Conservatives faced similar challenges to the Scottish Conservatives in adapting to devolution. It is arguable that initially the Scottish Conservatives adapted much better to the transition from the referendum to the new institutions. However, the

in The territorial Conservative Party
Alan Convery

3 Devolution, party change and the Scottish Conservative Party Conservatism has played a long and historic role in Scottish politics and the Tory Party has deep roots in Scotland. However, many people do not realise this. (Margaret Thatcher, Foreword to The Scottish Tory Party: A History by Gerald Warner, 1988: i) Author: Would it be fair to say that the party has never really got over the 1997 referendum result? Conservative MSP: I think it is gradually getting over the referendum result. (Interview with Conservative MSP 8, 2 October 2012) Having established

in The territorial Conservative Party
The victory of the Eurosceptics
Paul Whiteley
Patrick Seyd
, and
Harold D. Clarke

has usually benefited the Conservatives. The pattern is illustrated in Figure 3.1 , which shows the relationship between the percentage of seats in the House of Commons won by the Conservative Party and the overall left–right policy positions adopted by the Labour Party in post-war general elections, as measured by the Manifesto Research on Political Representation (MARPOR

in Breaking the deadlock
Lord Parkinson

Commentary 1 Lord Parkinson The reform of the Conservative Party The reform of the Conservative Party Lord Parkinson When William Hague appeared on the platform at the 2001 Conservative Party conference, he was greeted by a wave of sympathy which extended far beyond the audience at Blackpool. This was more than the usual reaction to a plucky underdog: it was a well-deserved testimony to the dignity which had marked William’s conduct since the 2001 general election. Perhaps the public had begun to appreciate some of William’s qualities. The pity is that the

in The Conservatives in Crisis