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Gender and the Conservative Party, 1880s to the present

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'.

The women’s Conservative organisation in the age of partial suffrage, 1914–28
David Thackeray

3 At the heart of the party? The women’s Conservative organisation in the age of partial suffrage, 1914–28 David Thackeray 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. While it would be prudent to question how many of these were active members, it was undoubtedly true that the Conservatives had been more successful than their rivals in attracting women members. At this time, the Conservative Women’s Organisation was around four times the size

in Rethinking right-wing women
Julie V. Gottlieb

amount of canvassing of “doubtful” electors. [Lady Iveagh MP is chairman of the Women’s Unionist organisation] In city, town, village and hamlet women can do much to assist the Conservative ­Party – ­a Party who have in the past shown how earnestly they desire to improve the conditions of the people and who have legislated in a wonderfully successful manner on behalf of women and children … And it was this Party who, in accordance with their pledges, removed the remaining political 102 Rethinking right-­wing women disabilities of women an enabled them to exercise

in Rethinking right-wing women
A view from the archives
Jeremy McIlwaine

. Writing in June 1924, for instance, she said, ‘It is to be regretted that it is only within the ranks of the Conservative Party that this attitude of distrust and veiled hostility to women still exists. It is dying fast, but there is still a sufficient number of old-­fashioned Associations to justify these remarks.’ The successful advance of women into senior positions in the Conservative Party is probably no better demonstrated than the appointment of Lady Iveagh as the party’s first woman vice-­chairman in ­1930 – ­though she and her successors in post as the party

in Rethinking right-wing women