How Hard Can it Be? The Conservatives

  • Philip Cowley
  • Dennis Kavanagh


For much of the Parliament, there was disagreement among Conservatives about how to interpret the 2010 election. David Cameron’s critics never forgave him for failing to win the election outright, especially against such an unpopular Prime Minister as Gordon Brown. Partly, this was a criticism of the party’s tactics — most obviously the decision to take part in the television debates which gave Nick Clegg so much visibility and credibility — but it was also a criticism of the fundamental messages on which the party had fought the 2010 election. Critics dismissed the manifesto’s idea of a Big Society, both intellectually and as a doorstep message, and criticised the lack of emphasis on Europe, immigration and tax cuts. The election post-mortem conducted by the Conservative-Home website regarded it as a missed opportunity, one made worse by Cameron then forming a coalition with the Liberal Democrats.1


Prime Minister Welfare Reform Party Leader Conservative Party Daily Mail 
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  1. Stephen Evans, ‘“Mother’s Boy”: David Cameron and Margaret Thatcher’, British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 32(3) (2010): 325–43.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Philip Cowley ‘The Parliamentary Party’, Political Quarterly, 80(2) (2009): 214–21.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Philip Cowley, Mark Stuart and Tiffany Trenner-Lyle, ‘The Parliamentary Party’ in G. Peele et al. (eds), Modernizing Conservatism. Manchester University Press, 2016.Google Scholar
  4. Philip Cowley and Mark Stuart, ‘The Cambusters: The Conservative European Referendum Rebellion of October 2011’, Political Quarterly, 83(2) (2012), 402–6.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The Editor(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Philip Cowley
    • 1
  • Dennis Kavanagh
    • 2
  1. 1.Queen Mary University of LondonUK
  2. 2.University of LiverpoolUK

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