Heppell, Timothy and Hill, Michael (2008) The Conservative Party Leadership Election of 1997: An Analysis of the Voting Motivations of Conservative Parliamentarians. British Politics, 3 (1). pp. 63-91. ISSN 1746918X

This paper examines the voting motivations of Conservative parliamentarians in the final ballot of the Conservative Party leadership election of 1997. Conservative parliamentarians had a clear choice between the political characteristics and the ideological disposition of the candidates. Should they endorse a senior, experienced and electorally attractive candidate, Kenneth Clarke, or a junior, inexperienced and less electorally attractive candidate, William Hague? and should they endorse the socially liberal, economic damp, and Europhile Clarke or the socially conservative, economic and Eurosceptic Hague? By constructing a data set of the voting behaviour of Conservative parliamentarians in the final party leadership ballot, this paper seeks, through the use of bivariate analysis, to test a series of hypotheses relating to the political characteristics and ideological disposition of the candidates vis-à-vis their electorate. The paper demonstrates that attitudes to the European ideological divide alone do not fully explain the rejection of Clarke and the endorsement of Hague. The paper concludes that ideological disposition was a key determinant of voting behaviour across all three of the ideological determinants of post-Thatcherite Conservatism (i.e. the social, sexual and morality policy divide, the economic policy divide and the European policy divide). Moreover, it confirms that ideology was not the sole determinant of voting behaviour; the political characteristics of age and parliamentary experience were significant in explaining how a youthful, inexperienced, Thatcherite Eurosceptic secured the party leadership.

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