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The Ideology of the Coalition: More Liberal than Conservative

Beech, Matt


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Dr Matt Beech
Reader in Politics and Director of the Centre for British Politics



For those who study British politics from a contemporary history or political science perspective the role of ideology is notable. British party ideology is diverse, fluid and contains contradictory strands. At certain times a particular expression dominates, usually from the podiums occupied by the party leadership. Of course, the role and significance of ideology is never the full story. The politics of personalities, internal management, path-dependent policy commitments and a host of external factors — chief of which is electoral calculus — all contribute to the story of a government. The work of Jim Bulpitt in relation to the primacy of statecraft in the domestic politics of Margaret Thatcher has been influential and widely cited within academic circles (Bulpitt, 1986). But Mark Garnett and Kevin Hickson are surely right to point out that ideology is a key contributing factor in the statecraft of elite politicians, including those at the apex of the oldest political party in Europe: ‘[W]e can see that the statecraft of the Conservative Party was not fixed but rather changed over time in the light of changed circumstances and the beliefs of the Party’s leaders. On this view, ideology has always been an integral element in Conservative “statecraft”.’ (Garnett and Hickson, 2009: 3)


Beech, M. (2015). The Ideology of the Coalition: More Liberal than Conservative. In M. Beech, & S. Lee (Eds.), The Conservative-Liberal Coalition : Examining the Cameron-Clegg Government (1-15). London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Publication Date Apr 8, 2015
Deposit Date May 18, 2021
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Pages 1-15
Book Title The Conservative-Liberal Coalition : Examining the Cameron-Clegg Government
Chapter Number 1
ISBN 9781137461360; 9781349498918
Keywords Foreign policy; Conservative Party; Economic liberalism; Social liberal; Orange Book
Public URL