British Conservatism embodies certain basic, though not always compatible, tenets of belief. They have underpinned the Conservative Party, which has been the most successful political party in the history of western Europe. The party was the 'in' party in British politics in the 20th Century; the reasons for that success shifted in the 21st century to it principal opponent party. Attempts by Conservative leaders in the first two parliaments of opposition constituted quick-fix and ultimately doomed approaches to restoring electoral dominance. The party under David Cameron has shifted to a long-term, grounded approach, learning the lessons of earlier periods of opposition. Though the process remains incomplete, the Conservative Party is placed for the first time in the 21st century to return to being a party of governance. © 2008 The Political Quarterly Publishing Co. Ltd.