Reconstructing Conservatism?

The Conservative party in opposition, 1997-2010

By Richard Hayton

Reconstructing Conservatism?


  • Hardcover

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9389-4
  • Pages: 192
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £18.99
  • Published Date: June 2016
  • BIC Category: HISTORY / Europe / Great Britain, POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Conservatism & Liberalism, Society & social sciences / Conservatism & right-of-centre democratic ideologies, Society & social sciences / Political parties, Politics, Political ideologies, Political parties
  • Series: New Perspectives on the Right


Why did it take the Conservative Party so long to recover power? After the landslide defeat in 1997, why was it so slow to adapt, reposition itself and rebuild its support? How did the party leadership seek to reconstruct Conservatism and modernise its electoral appeal?

Of vital interest to anyone interested in British politics, this highly readable book addresses these questions through a contextualised assessment of Conservative Party politics between 1997 and 2010. It traces debates over strategy amongst the party elite and scrutinises the actions of the leadership. It also considers four particular dilemmas for contemporary Conservatism: European integration; national identity and the 'English Question'; social liberalism versus social authoritarianism; and the problems posed by a neo-liberal political economy. The book argues that the ideological legacy of Thatcherism played a central role in framing and shaping these intraparty debates, and that an appreciation of this is vital for explaining the nature and limits of the Conservatives' renewal under Cameron.


"One of British academia's most promising and prolific political scientists, Richard Hayton has undoubtedly further enhanced his rapidly growing reputation with his new book, the eminently readable and engaging Reconstructing conservatism?: The Conservative Party in Opposition, 1997-2010."

"Hayton has struck a commendably judicious balance in writing this book; it enshrines a good degree of conceptual and scholarly analysis to render it attractive to academics and students of contemporary British politics, yet he writes with a sufficient clarity of expression and lucidity of explanation which could appeal to non-academic readers with an interest in current affairs and political issues.", Pete Dorey, Cardiff University, LSE Blog, 1 September 2012|This is a must-read for anyone interested in contemporary conservatism and modern British politics., Andrew Crines, University of Huddersfield, Times Higher Education Supplement, 29 November 2012


Part I: Theory and context
1. Introduction: The Conservative Party and electoral failure
2. Thatcher's Legacy: late-twentieth century Conservatism in context
3. The wilderness years: leadership strategy in opposition, 1997-2005
Part II: Themes and issues
4. The European question
5. National identity and the English question
6. A new moral agenda? Social Liberalism and Traditionalism
7. The political economy of twenty-first-century Conservatism
Part III: Conclusions
8. Reconstructed Conservatism? 'Cameronism' in context


Richard Hayton is Senior Lecturer in Politics at the University of Leeds

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