Democratising Conservative leadership selection

From grey suits to grass roots

By Andrew Denham and Kieron O'Hara

Democratising Conservative leadership selection

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-0-7190-7818-7
  • Pages: 240
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £15.99
  • Published Date: August 2008
  • BIC Category: Politics, United States of America, USA, Politics & government, POLITICAL SCIENCE / American Government / General, Society & social sciences / Politics & government, Society & social sciences / Conservatism & right-of-centre democratic ideologies


Democratising Conservative leadership selection traces the effects of democracy on the British Conservative Party, specifically looking at how changes in the ways the Conservatives elect their leaders have altered their mandate to lead.

The book includes analysis of the original undemocratic 'system' whereby a leader 'emerged' from a shadowy process of consultation, and of the six elections between 1965 and 1997 where the parliamentary Conservative Party alone chose the Party leader. This historical perspective is followed by in-depth analysis of the three contests since 2001 that have taken place under the 'Hague rules', according to which ordinary Party members have the final say. This is the most comprehensive account yet published of the operation of those rules on the Conservative Party and the legitimacy of its leadership, and of the 2005 election of David Cameron.

This book will be essential reading for students, academic specialists and anyone interested in the recent history and contemporary practice of British Conservatism.


1. Introduction: democracy, legitimacy and Conservative leadership
2. The 'magic circle' and after: from selection to election
3. Hague's revenge: the Conservative leadership election of 2001
4. Full circle to the magic circle
5. From May to December Part 1: the phoney war
6. From May to December Part 2: a tale of two speeches
7. Cameron's mandate for modernisation
8. Conclusion
Appendix I: Conservative Party leadership election results 1965-2005
Appendix II: The experience upon reaching office of Conservative Party leaders since the War
Appendix III: Declarations of support in the 2005 Conservative Party leadership election
Appendix IV: Bookmakers' odds on the 2005 Conservative Party leadership election
Selected bibliography


Andrew Denham is Reader in Government, University of Nottingham. Kieron O'Hara is Senior Research Fellow in the School of Electronics and Computer Science, University of Southampton, and a Fellow of the Web Science Research Initiative

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