‘A Bit Less Bunny-Hugging and a Bit More Bunny-Boiling’? Qualifying Conservative Party Change under David Cameron
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The Conservatives appear to have established a clear and consistent opinion poll lead over the Labour government. Some would suggest that this change of fortunes is connected to the ‘modernization’ undertaken by David Cameron. This article examines the extent to which the Conservative Party can be said to have changed in a manner that political scientists might regard as significant. From the comparative literature on party change, it derives five dimensions and associated indicators of change; it then proceeds to measure the Conservative Party against them. It finds that the extent of change — both actual and perceived — is easily overstated, partly because ‘Team Cameron’ has always had to tread carefully and particularly given significant adjustments made to the Party's course after the difficult summer of 2007. When it comes to the relationship between change and success, only a modicum of the former may be needed to achieve the latter given that elections are as much lost by governments as they are won by oppositions.
Keywordsparty change Conservative David Cameron modernization Gordon Brown centre ground
The author would like to acknowledge the financial assistance provided by the Leverhulme Trust for the research and writing of this article.
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