British Politics

, Volume 10, Issue 2, pp 249–266 | Cite as

The theory and practice of party modernisation: The conservative party under David Cameron, 2005–2015

  • Katharine Dommett
Original Article


As the contributions to this special issue each demonstrate, modernisation is a slippery word. Although commonly used in political rhetoric, it is often unclear exactly what is meant by the term, or how successful modernisation can be discerned. This article reflects on the theory and practice of Conservative modernisation to cast some light on these issues. Exploring the party’s modernisation from 2005 to 2015 it is argued that modernisation can occur at different levels. Using the notion of micro, meso and macro level modernisation, it is argued that Conservative modernisation was pursued at the micro and meso levels but was derailed by events that altered party strategy. As such this article judges that David Cameron did not successfully modernise his party and, utilising this case, examines the challenges of delivering modernising change more broadly.


modernisation political parties party change Conservative Party David Cameron 


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Ltd 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Katharine Dommett
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of PoliticsUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK

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