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'The fools have stumbled on their best man by accident' : an analysis of the 1957 and 1963 Conservative Party leadership selections

Miller, Stephen David (1999) 'The fools have stumbled on their best man by accident' : an analysis of the 1957 and 1963 Conservative Party leadership selections. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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Abstract

This thesis assesses the outcomes of the 1957 and 1963 Conservative Party
Leadership Selections of Harold Macmillan and Sir Alec Douglas-Home. It analyses
the two selections using an original analytical framework, that demonstrates the
importance of both individual and situational criteria in determining the outcomes of
leadership selections. The individual criteria are the party status of the candidates, and
their actions and conduct during the selections. The situational criteria are the situation
and circumstances surrounding the selections, the formal and informal aspects of the
selection procedure used, and the candidates fulfilment of acceptability, electability,
and governability. Acceptability, (the need to retain or maintain party unity),
electability, (the need to be electable), and governability, (the ability to govern), are the
three core situational criteria on which the candidates are judged. This framework was
developed to offer a full and inclusive explanation of the outcomes of the two
leadership selections, because the existing analyses of leadership selections has a
restrictive approach, and does not offer a conclusive and systematic analysis.

The thesis demonstrates that the outcomes of the 1957 and 1963 leadership
selections have clear parallels and distinctions in their outcomes. Both selections
produced a stop-gap leader in a time of crisis for the Conservative Party. However, the
situations were clearly distinct, and this was influential in the outcome. The 1957
selection occurred following a crisis over foreign policy, while the 1963 selection
occurred during a deep-seated period of domestic crisis and upheaval. In January
1957, the Conservatives had three years before a general election had to be held, while
in October 1963, a general election was imminent within twelve months. The selection
procedure was influential in both selections. The informal aspects of the procedure
were more influential in 1957, while the procedure had become more formalised in
1963, and this prepared the way for the establishment of formal leadership elections in
the Conservative Party in 1965. The choice of Macmillan and Home was made because
of the circumstances in which the selections occurred, and because they fulfilled the
three core criteria more conclusively than the other candidates. In both outcomes,
acceptability was clearly the most important core criteria because the selections
occurred at a time of severe disunity in the party, and this deemed party unity as the
crucial task of the new leader. In 1957, Macmillan was selected as he fulfilled the
requirements of the situation better than R. A. Butler, the other candidate. In 1963,
Home became leader because of the weaknesses apparent in the other candidates, and
was the compromise candidate to retain party unity.

This thesis concludes that the wider individual and situational criteria set the
terms of reference on which the core situational criteria of acceptability, electability,
and governability are judged. The most important wider criteria were the candidates'
actions during the selection, the selection procedure, and the situation that the
selection occurred in. This demonstrates the utility of the analytical framework
developed in the study.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Additional Information: EThOS Persistent ID uk.bl.ethos.323774
Uncontrolled Keywords: Harold Macmillan, Alec Douglas-Home, Politics, History
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
Depositing User: Graham Stone
Date Deposited: 22 Oct 2009 15:51
Last Modified: 28 Jul 2010 18:48
URI: http://eprints.hud.ac.uk/id/eprint/5962

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