Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library
The Conservative Party and social policy

The Conservative Party and social policy

Edited by Hugh Bochel
Copyright Date: 2011
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    The Conservative Party and social policy
    Book Description:

    With the Conservative Party breaking new ground in forming a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, this book examines the development and content of the Conservatives' approaches to social policy and how they inform the Coalition's policies. Chapters cover the development of Conservative Party social policy and specific policy areas. The book will be of interest to academics, undergraduate and postgraduate students, and everyone with an interest in the Conservative Party and the Coalition government's social policies.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-938-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-iii)
  3. List of tables and figures
    (pp. iv-iv)
  4. Notes on contributors
    (pp. v-viii)
  5. ONE Conservative approaches to social policy since 1997
    (pp. 1-22)
    Hugh Bochel

    This book considers the development of the Conservative Party’s social policies from 1997 to the period following the 2010 general election. That election brought a number of major surprises. One was that despite large opinion poll leads throughout most of 2008 and 2009, the Conservatives failed to gain an overall majority in the House of Commons; another was the coalition subsequently formed with the Liberal Democrats and the policy agreements that emerged from it. This chapter considers the genesis of the Conservatives’ positions on social policy up to the general election and its immediate aftermath, and thus provides a broad...

  6. TWO The Conservative Party and the welfare state since 1945
    (pp. 23-40)
    Robert M. Page

    ‘Vote for change’, the Conservatives’ (ultimately highly prescient) campaign slogan for the 2010 general election, appears at first sight to be an unlikely catchphrase for a party that has historically been associated with order, tradition, hierarchy and institutional arrangements that have stood the test of time. However, this embrace of change becomes more understandable when one recognises that the party’s longevity and unparalleled electoral success has resulted from its willingness to modify both its principles and policies in the light of new circumstances. As Rodney Lowe (2005, p 25) remarks, echoing the influential 18th-century philosopher Edmund Burke, traditional Conservative philosophy...

  7. THREE The Conservative Party and public expenditure
    (pp. 41-60)
    Nick Ellison

    This chapter examines the Conservative Party’s attitudes to public spending since 1945, concentrating on two key periods of sustained Conservative rule, 1951–64 and 1979–97. The argument, put briefly, is that Conservative attitudes to public spending have been rather more ‘ambivalent’ over the years than the party’s embedded scepticism about the benefits of public expenditure would suggest. Bulpitt’s (1986) important observation about Conservative ‘statecraft’ – that Tory governing elites have always attempted to insulate themselves from too close an engagement with immediate political pressures by attending to matters of ‘high politics’, particularly the competent management of prevailing macro-economic conditions...

  8. FOUR The Conservatives, social policy and public opinion
    (pp. 61-76)
    Andrew Defty

    In an article published shortly before the 2010 general election, Bochel and Defty (2010) observed that if Cameron was to succeed where several of his predecessors had failed, this would represent a marked shift in public attitudes towards the Conservative Party. It might also, they added, indicate a significant shift in public attitudes towards the role of the state. The uncertain outcome of the 2010 election suggests that Cameron’s success in changing public perceptions of the Conservative Party is far from clear, and also raises questions about the degree of public support for significant reform of the role of the...

  9. FIVE Conservative health policy: change, continuity and policy influence
    (pp. 77-96)
    Rob Baggott

    Health policy has long been regarded as a core Labour issue and this has been especially so since the 1980s. The Conservative Party has faced an uphill task in persuading voters and NHS staff of the merits of its policies. This would scarcely matter if health and health care were minor issues. However, between 1995 and 2007 opinion polls identified health care as one of the top issues for voters. It was the most prominent issue for most of this period, with between half and three quarters of people stating that health care was very important in helping them decide...

  10. SIX Something old, something new: understanding Conservative education policy
    (pp. 97-118)
    Sonia Exley and Stephen J. Ball

    Since the Thatcher era, Conservative education policy, like many areas of Conservative policy, has been fraught with tensions. Looking back over 30 years conjures memories of some familiar figures and contradictions. We remember Keith Joseph and his neo-liberal zeal over freedom for schools and vouchers for parents, but we also remember Kenneth Baker and his introduction of a prescriptive National Curriculum with national testing at age seven or indeed Kenneth Clarke, his abolition of HMI and his creation of Ofsted in an unprecedented shift in relations between government and the educational establishment. As far back as 1998, William Hague sought...

  11. SEVEN Conservative housing policy
    (pp. 119-144)
    Peter Somerville

    Current Conservative housing policy emerged rather later than their other policies. InBreakdown Britain(Social Justice Policy Group, 2006), for example, which proposed new policies for families, education, debt management, tackling poverty and substance misuse, and promoting the third sector, there was no mention of housing at all. Housing policy, did, however, appear inBreakthrough Britain(Social Justice Policy Group, 2007), and we can see this as the embryo of the housing policy that followed. However, Conservative housing policy has continued to be overshadowed by wider debates about welfare reform and the so-called ‘Big Society’ and the relationship of housing...

  12. EIGHT Social security and welfare reform
    (pp. 145-160)
    Stephen McKay and Karen Rowlingson

    Radical reform of the social security system is rare as it affects the lives of so many people. Spending on social security was anticipated as being £196 billion in 2010/11, an increase from £143 billion (real terms) in 1997/98. This may be expressed as an increase from 12.6% of GDP to 13.4%. A sizeable rise, therefore, but smaller than had been seen in either the NHS (5.2% to 8.7%) or in education (4.6% to 6.1%) over the same period. The extensive reach of the system, therefore, makes it difficult to reform, but it also makes it a target for those...

  13. NINE A new welfare settlement? The Coalition government and welfare-to-work
    (pp. 161-180)
    Alan Deacon and Ruth Patrick

    ‘Change’ was the leitmotif of both the Conservative and Liberal Democrat campaigns in the general election of May 2010. The Conservatives urged the electorate to ‘vote for change’ and to sign up to a ‘contract for change’ (Conservative Party, 2010e), while the Liberal Democrats promised ‘change that works for you’ (Liberal Democrats, 2010). In the field of welfare reform, however, the opposition parties offered not change, but more of the same. As Lister and Bennett have noted, the Conservatives’ Work Programme, which was to become a central feature of the Coalition agreement between the two parties, did not ‘break out...

  14. TEN The Conservative Party and community care
    (pp. 181-196)
    Jon Glasby

    The Conservative governments of 1979–97 were responsible for a series of major changes in the conceptualisation and delivery of community care services (see Box 10.1 for a summary). In particular, this period saw the introduction of a series of private-sector approaches and terminology, as well as the gradual transition of social workers and social services departments into purchasers rather than necessarily the providers of care. As a result of these changes, the community care landscape changed dramatically. Between 1982 and 1991, places in private-sector care homes increased from 46,900 to 161,2000, while the independent sector provided 60% of home...

  15. ELEVEN Conservative policy and the family
    (pp. 197-214)
    Paul Daniel

    Speaking at his party’s Spring Forum in 2008, David Cameron signalled his intention to place the family at the heart of Conservative social policy: ‘My ambition is to make Britain more family friendly.... Not just because it is the right thing to do, not just because my family is the most important thing in my life, but because families should be the most important thing in our country’s life’ (Cameron, 2008c). Of course, it has become more or less mandatory for political parties in Britain to proclaim themselves as ‘the party of the family’. Arguably, no other aspect of social...

  16. TWELVE Crime and criminal justice
    (pp. 215-228)
    Mike Hough

    It would normally be quite straightforward to summarise and appraise the law-and-order policies of an incoming administration six months into its term of office. As others in this volume have also pointed out, times are far from normal, for two reasons. We have a Coalition government for the first time since 1945 (discounting the less formal Lib–Lab pact of 1977/78) and we are entering a period of unparalleled cuts in public-sector expenditure. These factors substantially curtail each of the Coalition parties’ freedom of manoeuvre to implement the criminal justice policies that appeared in their manifestos – which only months...

  17. THIRTEEN The Conservatives and social policy in the devolved administrations
    (pp. 229-250)
    Richard Parry

    Conservative policy development in Scotland and Wales has, in recent years, been structured by the weak position of the parties in the two nations. The formation of the Conservative–Liberal Democrat Coalition on 10 May 2010 had many unanticipated by-products, not least the partial resolution of the dilemma of territorial politics faced by a Conservative Party nearly all of whose parliamentary strength comes from England. The addition of Liberal Democrat votes and MPs took the Coalition presence in Scotland to 35.6% of the vote and 12 seats out of 59, and in Wales to a healthy 46.2% and 11 seats...

  18. FOURTEEN The Conservatives and the governance of social policy
    (pp. 251-268)
    Catherine Bochel

    The Conservative governments of the 1980s and 1990s introduced major changes not only in the nature of social policies, but also in the ways in which such policies were made and implemented, with a more centralist and managerialist approach combined with a preference for markets and competition in the delivery of policies. Under the Labour governments from 1997 to 2010 there were further significant changes, including, for example, devolution to Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales (see Chapter 13), and the placing of significant emphasis on attempts to improve the processes of policymaking and delivery.

    Under David Cameron the Conservatives, when...

  19. FIFTEEN The Conservatives, Coalition and social policy
    (pp. 269-278)
    Hugh Bochel

    The first few months of the Coalition government’s term of office proceeded more smoothly than many might have anticipated. Although there were some (relatively) public disagreements around issues such as tuition fees for higher education and the cap on non-EU immigration, in most respects the partners were likely to have been relatively content with the operation of the Coalition.

    However, there were a number of reasons to suspect that this initial period would not be typical. These included the fact that, despite the ‘emergency budget’ of June 2010 and the Spending Review in October that year, the real scale and...

  20. References
    (pp. 279-312)
  21. Index
    (pp. 313-328)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 329-329)