The Conservative Party's survival as a significant political force was now open to serious question for the first time since the crisis over the Corn Laws. The Labour Party has commanded a fairly consistent level of attention, whether in office or in opposition. But it seems that the Conservatives are fated to be regarded either as unavoidable or irrelevant. This book presents an analysis that suggests that the party leader plays a less important role in Conservative recoveries than a distinctive policy programme and an effective party organization. It examines the Conservative position on a series of key issues, highlighting the difficult dilemmas which confronted the party after 1997, notably on economic policy. New Labour's acceptance of much of the main thrust of Thatcherite economic policy threw the Conservatives off balance. The pragmatism of this new position and the 'In Europe, not run by Europe' platform masked a significant move towards Euro-skepticism. The book also traces how the Scottish Conservative and Unionist Parties adapted to the creation of the Scottish Parliament, exploring the re-organisation of the Scottish party, its electoral fortunes and political prospects in the new Scottish politics. It examines issues of identity and nationhood in Conservative politics in the 1997-2001 period, focusing on the 'English Question' and the politics of 'race'. The predictable results of the Conservatives' failure to develop an attractive, consistent narrative are then analysed. Right-wing populist parties with charismatic leaders enjoyed some electoral success under the proportional representation systems in 2002.
the 1997 landslide. As Dorey shows, New Labour’s acceptance of much of the
main thrust of Thatcheriteeconomicpolicy threw the Conservatives off
Mark Garnett and Philip Lynch
balance; as a result, instead of outbidding New Labour on the ideological
right, or returning to a One Nation position which jettisoned the tax-cutting
agenda, they tried to face both ways at once.
‘Europe’, particularly the question of British membership of the single
currency, was for many Conservatives the most significant issue facing the
party. Hague quickly ruled out British
focus on public services could sit
alongside a fundamentally Thatcheriteeconomicpolicy – quickly died a death as
the party (from the leader downwards) did not yet have the stomach for its possible implications.
2001–5: neo-Thatcherism continued
Iain Duncan Smith’s tenure as leader of the Conservative Party is an important (and
underanalysed) phase in this thirteen-year period of opposition, as it saw a more
determined effort to begin the process of policy renewal and strategic reorientation.
As noted in Chapter 3, some important steps were taken in this regard
the English Regions, was downgraded, and it was never the same again.
The people that followed didn’t have the power to manage their own
budgets, to make their own choices, to develop their own talent and it
was like a Golden Age that came to an end then.4
Industrial circumstances were beginning to change in the early
1980s, in television as in other industries, as Thatcheriteeconomicpolicies began to take effect. As Philip Martin highlights, subsequent
Heads of Department at English Regions Drama ‘didn’t have the power
to manage their own budgets, to
introspection. The obvious candidate to succeed Major had been Kenneth Clarke, the likeable and experienced former Chancellor. Interestingly, it was not Clarke's views on socio-economic policies that prevented him from being elected; he had, after all, been in charge of government departments in the areas of both health and education that had introduced internal markets and a business model to schools, universities and hospitals for the first time, putting him very much in the frontline of delivering Thatcheriteeconomicpolicies. Rather, it was the fact his views were
British television dramas of the early 1980s.
This dramatised the plight of a group of unemployed Liverpool
labourers, examining the effect of Thatcheriteeconomicpolicies
on the industrial north. Although situated within a fundamentally
different genre to Bird of Prey, Boys from the Blackstuff in many
ways explored the flipside of the same political concerns, exchanging Jay’s professional white-collar perspective on the corruption of
global finance for a more grounded perspective on how such economic shifts affected the working class. Through these productions
one of Clarke’s most
political films. After documenting the effects of Thatcheriteeconomicpolicy on the dispossessed, Clarke now portrays the thought processes
of those who shared their world-view, making The Firm his most overt
17/5/05, 9:07 am
Form and narrative in the 1980s 141
allegory of popular Toryism. This reading was grasped on the set: Philip
Davis argued that the hooligans were ‘the result of Thatcher’s Britain …
they weren’t kicking against the system or the bosses, they were kicking
against each other’, adding that ‘it