The Conservative Party’s ideological flexibility and lust for office are customarily cited as the main reasons for its ability to evolve and prosper.1 ‘Any political party’, The Times argued, ‘which is to have a hope of recovering must reach out to voters … Wise Conservatives deal with the world as it is, not as it should be or once was. They respect the changing landscape and are sensitive to its contours.’2 Adaptation is an intensely political, not technical, process and is seldom smooth or unproblematic because adaptation challenges the extant definition of what Conservatism is. Parties exist in a system of rules producing stability (or inertia) which inhibits adaptation.3 Adaptations are more radical than the policy or tactical shifts of electoral politics, they occur at a deeper level and in response to influences broader than those in the electoral cycle. Adaptation requires the Party to reinterpret policies and style, modulating these with perceived changes in the Party’s milieu, thereby redefining Conservatism. Successful adaptation delivers power. If not, a further adaptation occurs. After 1945 the Party undertook two successful adaptations: to the post-war settlement and to markets, currently the Party is groping to find another successful adaptation.


Public Service Free Market Full Employment Successful Adaptation Core Belief 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrew Taylor

There are no affiliations available

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