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The Conservative Party, 1886-2019

4. Key Issue: Devolution and the Union

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the Conservative Party in relation to devolution. In particular, we think about: (i) the centrality of a belief in the union in conservative political philosophy; (ii) Home Rule in Ireland, the dominant political question in the late 19th century; (iii) the 1997 referendums on Scottish and Welsh devolution, which led to the creation of the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly; (iv) the constitutional imbalance represented by the ‘West Lothian Question’ and the idea of English parliament; (v) Cameron’s decision to allow Scotland to hold a referendum on independence in 2014, and his commitment to devolve further powers to Scotland in the event of a ‘no’ vote; (vi) Cameron’s pushing of ‘English votes for English laws’; and (vii) the of Scottish devolution/independence on the fortunes of the Conservative Party in Scotland.


In this course, Dr Richard Hayton (University of Leeds) explores the history of the Conservative Party in ‘the long Conservative century’, 1886-2019. In the first module, we think about the electoral success of the Conservative Party since the late 19th century – 100 years in power, 33 in opposition, making them the most successful political party in world history. In the second module, we think about the two main political philosophies that have characterised conservatism in the 20th century – One-Nation Conservatism and Thatcherism – before turning in the third module to the rise of David Cameron and his attempts to ‘modernise’ the party after more than a decade in opposition. In the final two module, we think about how the Conservative Party have handled two of the great political questions of the past forty years – devolution and Europe.


Dr Richard Hayton is Associate Professor in Politics at the University of Leeds. His research interests are focused on British party politics, ideologies and leadership, and a number of related themes. He has published extensively on Conservative politics, and has edited special issues of the journals Parliamentary Affairs on the politics of Coalition, and British Politics on the fate of Conservative Modernisation. His most recent publication is Reconstructing Conservatism? The Conservative Party in Opposition, 1997-2010 (2012).

Cite this Lecture

APA style

Hayton, R. (2020, December 28). The Conservative Party, 1886-2019 - Key Issue: Devolution and the Union [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hayton, R. "The Conservative Party, 1886-2019 – Key Issue: Devolution and the Union." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 28 Dec 2020,