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The Conservative Party, 1886-2019

2. One-Nation Conservatism and Thatcherism

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About this Lecture


In this module, we think about the two main traditions of 20th-century conservative thought – one-nation conservatism and Thatcherism – focusing in particular on: (i) the 19th-century origins of one-nation conservatism; (ii) why the Conservatives lost the General Election in 1945; (iii) the importance of moderate figures such as Rab Butler in moving the Conservative Party towards one-nationism after 1945; (iv) the ‘conservatism’ of one-nation conservatism, including its appeal to Britishness and the British state, and its surprising success in Scotland; (v) the shift in conservative political philosophy as the post-war consensus broke down in the late 1970s, the rise of Margaret Thatcher and Thatcherism; (vi) the electoral success of Thatcherism, its influence on the positioning of the Labour Party in the 1990s; and (vii) the extent to which Thatcherism was a ‘conservative’ political philosophy, and to extent to which it diverged from that political tradition.


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 - One-Nation Conservatism and Thatcherism [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Hayton, R. "The Conservative Party, 1886-2019 – One-Nation Conservatism and Thatcherism." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 28 Dec 2020,