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A new direction or another false dawn? David Cameron and the crisis of British Conservatism

Dorey, Peter 2007. A new direction or another false dawn? David Cameron and the crisis of British Conservatism. British Politics 2 , pp. 137-166. 10.1057/palgrave.bp.4200051

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After three successive general election defeats, and three leaders since 1997, the Conservative Party finally seems to have staged a recovery during the first year of David Cameron's leadership. He has energetically sought to reposition the Conservatives ideologically, insisting on the need to depart from Thatcherism and move back towards the centre ground of British politics by promoting a more socially inclusive and compassionate Conservatism. His initial efforts seem to have been highly successful, with the Conservative Party enjoying its first sustained poll leads over Labour since 1992. However, more careful consideration suggests that the Conservative's recovery is rather fragile, and thus far dependent mainly on short-term factors. Certainly, the Party should be (and needs to be) much further ahead in the polls at this stage of the electoral cycle if it is to win the next general election. Moreover, Cameron has deliberately avoided making specific policy pledges so far, pending a comprehensive internal policy review to be completed by the summer of 2007, yet when more detailed policies are announced many of them are likely to refuel intra-party divisions between socially liberal modernizers and Thatcherite traditionalists, and this, in turn, will almost certainly alienate some of the electoral support (re)gained during Cameron's first year as Conservative leader. Consequently, a Conservative victory at the next general election remains highly unlikely.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
Uncontrolled Keywords: David Cameron, modernization, ideological repositioning, one nation Conservatism, poll ratings
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
ISSN: 1746-918X
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2017 08:40

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