Hill, Michael (2007) The Parliamentary Conservative Party: The leadership elections of William Hague and Iain Duncan Smith. Doctoral thesis, University of Huddersfield.

The aim of this research is to investigate the post1997 Parliamentary Conservative Party, with
particular attention placed upon the Conservative Party leadership election of 1997 and 2001.
The thesis uses these two leadership elections as a lens which can be utilised to focus upon and
analyse the ideological disputations of contemporary British Conservatism. This is done by
identifying the voting behaviour of Conservative parliamentarians in the two leadership elections
and then by putting forwards a systemic explanation of the candidates’ support. Three sets of
variables are tested. First, the thesis analyses socio-economic variables (i.e. the occupational and
educational background of conservative parliamentarians). Second, the research considers the
candidates’ support in relation to electoral and political variables (i.e. electoral vulnerability,
political insider / outsider status, age and experience). Finally the research will evaluate the
candidates’ support with regard to the ideological disposition of the candidates and their
supporters. This requires an extensive exploration of the attitudes of Conservative
parliamentarians with regard to the dominant ideological divides within contemporary post-
Thatcherite Conservatism – economic policy (wet / dry), European policy (europhile /
eurosceptic), and social, sexual and moral attitudes (social liberalism / social conservatism). By
analysing the patterns of voting in relation to social background, political attributes and
ideological disposition the thesis locates and interprets the differing motivational influences on
voting behaviour.
The thesis argues the ideological disposition of the candidates and their supporters was the
crucial factor in both the leadership elections. The final round of the 1997 leadership election
was a straight ideological battle between the europhile and eurosceptic wings of the
parliamentary Conservative Party. This benefited the eurosceptic William Hague at the expense
of the europhile Kenneth Clarke. In 2001 both Clarke and Portillo attracted support from across
the ideological spectrum of the parliamentary party, suggesting that a section of the
parliamentary party had moved away from ideologically driven voting behaviour. However, Iain
Duncan Smith reaching the final ballot was due to the support of an ideologically cohesive group
of traditional Thatcherite MPs and indicative of the continued significance of ideology on the
direction of the Conservative party.


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