David Cameron and Conservative renewal

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.

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