Choosing party leaders

Britain's Conservatives and Labour compared

By Andrew Denham, Peter Dorey and Andrew S. Roe-Crines

Choosing party leaders


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-3486-8
  • Pages: 264
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £85.00
  • Published Date: May 2020
  • BIC Category: British Politics, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Elections, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Process / Political Parties, POLITICAL SCIENCE / General, Political Leaders & Leadership, Society & social sciences / Political parties, Society & social sciences / Politics & government


How political parties choose their leaders, and why they choose the leaders they do, are questions of fundamental importance in contemporary parliamentary democracies. This book examines political leadership selection in the two dominant parties in recent British political history, exploring the criteria and skills needed by political leaders to be chosen by their parties.

While the Conservative Party's strong record in office owes much to its ability to project an image of leadership competence and governing credibility, the Labour Party has struggled with issues of economic management, leadership ability and ideological splits between various interpretations of socialism. The authors argue that the Conservatives tend towards a unifying figure who can lead the Party to victory, whereas the Labour Party typically choose a leader to unite the party behind ideological renewal.

Exploring the contemporary political choices of leaders like Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn, this book offers a timely insight into the leadership processes of Britain's major political players.


1 Towards the end of the 'magic circle'
2 A democratic parliamentary Conservative Party
3 Enfranchising the extra-parliamentary party
4 From chairman to leader: the selection of Labour leaders by the Parliamentary Labour Party, 1906-80
5 From Healey to Miliband: the election of Labour leaders and deputy leaders by the Electoral College
6 The Labour leadership election(s) of Jeremy Corbyn


Andrew Denham is Reader in Politics at the University of Nottingham

Andrew S. Roe-Crines is a Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Liverpool

Peter Dorey is Professor of Politics at Cardiff University

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