Chapter

Messiah to Meltdown: 1979–1997

Tim Bale

in The Conservatives since 1945: The Drivers of Party Change

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780199234370
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780191746093 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199234370.003.0007
Messiah to Meltdown: 1979–1997

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There were tangible changes not just around the cabinet table, and eventually at Number Ten, but also in the Party’s candidates, even if women and ethnic minorities were still thin on the ground. As the sophistication and the expense of the Party’s campaigning effort increased, so did contestation between politicians and professionals. Even as the Party’s headquarters was re-shaped and its leadership and candidate selection processes tweaked, its infrastructure on the ground began to disintegrate as the long-term drop in members only worsened the financial mess that helped drive organisational change. There were huge changes in policy on every front imaginable. The influence of the leader on all this was sometimes direct, sometimes indirect, but was much weaker towards the end of the period than the beginning, while the dominant faction began to fragment. Policy change was also driven by early success or failure, by foreign pressure, and by fears of electoral losses.

Keywords: Thatcher; Major; Heseltine; Blair; New Labour; privatisation; NHS; pensions; Europe; elections

Chapter.  27124 words. 

Subjects: UK Politics

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