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Democratising Conservative Leadership Selection: From Grey Suits to Grass Roots; Choosing the Tory Leader: Conservative Party Leadership Elections from Heath to Cameron

journal contribution
posted on 2023-06-07, 19:35 authored by Tim Bale
In an era of valence rather than position politics, an era in which some see parliamentary systems becoming ever more presidentialised, party leadership is clearly crucial. Just as importantly, one can argue that contests to elect leaders provide something of a window into the soul of a particular party. They not only help determine its electoral fate. They also expose fault-lines. They show what really matters to those involved. They demonstrate strengths and weaknesses, collective and individual. They mark turning points. Or they show that the party in question is not yet ready or able to change. They also reinforce the feeling that politics is an art as well as a science. Leadership, of course, has always mattered a great deal in the British Conservative Party—an organisation which John Ramsden, one of its leading historians, once characterised as an ‘autocracy tempered by assassination.’ Accordingly, there has in recent years been a steady flow of articles written about the origins, course and outcomes of Tory leadership contests, notably by Philip Cowley and Keith Alderman and their collaborators. But full-length books about those contests are obviously like London buses. You wait ages for one and then two come along at exactly the same time. Not very funny, I grant you. But laugh-out-loud compared to what it must be like to be one of the authors involved. This kind of thing is surely every academic's nightmare: there you are, busy beavering away on your magnum opus, only to find that you're not the only game in town.


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Parliamentary Affairs




Oxford University Press





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  • Politics Publications

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