The limits of modernisation?

The book explores the process of rebuilding the Conservative Party under David Cameron’s leadership since 2005. It argues that Cameron’s strategy was wide-ranging and multi-faceted and that it evolved through several stages from a coherent programme of explicit modernisation into a more diffuse set of reforms. This development was partly a result of changed thinking within the Party and partly because of the pressure of external events, especially the 2008 global financial crisis and the demands of coalition government between 2010 and 2015. It traces the different elements of the renewal strategy – leadership initiatives, ideological reconstruction, policy reappraisal and enhanced electoral appeal – and it identifies the constraints on implementing Party renewal that occurred as a result of opposition from within the Party, including the parliamentary Party and the grass roots membership. It also explores the extent to which long-standing intra-party fissures, especially over Europe , exacerbated difficulties for the leadership. The book shows that the process of renewal has been through a number of stages and that its progress has been indirect rather than linear. It suggests that, although the renewal project has been relatively successful in some respects including the return of the Conservatives to government, the extent to which it has created a new Conservative Party remains contested and the Party continues to display a dangerous disunity.

Gillian Peele

1 David Cameron’s leadership and party renewal Gillian Peele Writing on the tenth anniversary of David Cameron’s victory in the Conservative leadership election, Paul Goodman, the editor of the influential online site ConservativeHome, noted that on some measures Cameron’s decade in the leadership made him the second most successful Conservative leader in the last hundred years (ConservativeHome, 6 December 2015). Yet, as Goodman’s article also un­­ derlined, there is a sense in which Cameron’s leadership remains puzzling and problematic: for many observers his

in David Cameron and Conservative renewal
Tim Bale

12 The oratory of David Cameron Tim Bale Even David Cameron’s detractors would acknowledge that he possesses excellent presentational skills and that he performs effectively across the range of speaking opportunities that the twenty-first century offers its top politicians. Certainly, at PMQs in the Commons, Cameron gives as good as he gets and has done so right from his very first day in the job (YouTube, 2010a). He is also capable of delivering pitch-perfect speeches in the House on other occasions, particularly when they call for a bipartisan approach, as

in Conservative orators from Baldwin to Cameron
Modernisation abandoned
Peter Dorey

3 Policies under Cameron: modernisation abandoned Peter Dorey Integral to the process of ideological revision and ostensible repositioning examined by Richard Hayton in the previous chapter, the early years of David Cameron’s leadership entailed a broad-ranging review of Conservative Party policy. Professing the need to ‘move on’ from Thatcherism and discarding the Conservatives’ apparent ‘nasty party’ image, Cameron immediately, upon being elected leader, initiated a systematic review of the Party’s policies, with the apparent intention of either modifying them

in David Cameron and Conservative renewal
Abstract only
The politics of Conservative renewal
Gillian Peele and John Francis

Introduction: the politics of Conservative renewal Gillian Peele and John Francis This book examines the British Conservative Party and David Cameron’s efforts to renew the Party after 2005. It seeks to make a contribution to the understanding of contemporary British conservatism and the dynamics of Conservative Party politics by exploring the evolution of the modernisation strategy which Cameron promoted on becoming leader and the factors which constrained that process. Debate about the evolving character of British conservatism is still very much a live one and

in David Cameron and Conservative renewal
Philip Cowley, Mark Stuart and Tiffany Trenner-Lyle

parliamentary party. David Cameron may have been a moderniser, as were some of his MPs – but he, and they, were very much in a minority. 106 David Cameron and Conservative renewal The face of the Party The most striking thing about the PCP that gathered after the 2010 election was how different it was. The combination of a large number of retirements in advance of the election, driven in large part by the expenses scandal, and the Conservatives’ successes at the polls, meant that almost half (48%, some 148 MPs) of the parliamentary party were newly elected (Criddle, 2010

in David Cameron and Conservative renewal
Ideology and values
Richard Hayton

2 Constructing a new conservatism? Ideology and values Richard Hayton Introduction Following three severe election defeats, the Conservatives elected David Cameron as leader on an explicitly modernising platform. His agenda for change encompassed revitalising the Party image through a concerted effort to rebrand the Party, an extensive review of policy and ideological repositioning towards the centre ground. While these three strands are of course intertwined, this chapter will focus on the last, namely the attempt to distance the Conservatives from the legacy

in David Cameron and Conservative renewal
Tim Bale and Paul Webb

), ‘diagnoses a disjuncture between [its] practices and/or ideas and contemporary society, and uses this diagnosis to revisit and revise [its] ideology, policies and/or structures’. All these features of a modernisation project must perforce involve and 140 David Cameron and Conservative renewal impact on party members. The extent to which they change is therefore one measure of the extent to which that project has succeeded or failed in changing the Party as a whole – platform, personnel, institutions and brand image. In other words, it would be foolish and/or misleading

in David Cameron and Conservative renewal
Matthew Burbank and John Francis

4 The Conservative Party and a changing electorate Matthew Burbank and John Francis Introduction Party modernisation, as discussed throughout this book, is primarily a tool to help a party regain power at the next or succeeding elections. Past Conservative modernisation programmes from 1945 to 1979 have proved to be successful if measured by the Party’s relatively quick return to power. After the1997 election defeat, the Conservatives found it difficult to devise an electorally persuasive modernisation effort until David Cameron won a plurality of seats for the

in David Cameron and Conservative renewal
European integration and the rise of UKIP
Philip Lynch and Richard Whitaker

6 Continuing fault lines and new threats: European integration and the rise of UKIP Philip Lynch and Richard Whitaker In his first Conservative Party annual conference speech as leader, David Cameron argued that instead of ‘talking about the things that most people cared about, we talked about what we cared about most … banging on about Europe’ (Cameron, 2006). Conservative modernisers recognised that European integration was not an issue of great concern to voters and that the perception that the Conservatives were both obsessed by and divided on the issue had

in David Cameron and Conservative renewal