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The role of the annual conference in the conservative party

Hyslop, M. J. (1974) The role of the annual conference in the conservative party. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The Conservative Party Conference originally developed, in the nineteenth century as the governing body of a working class grass roots party organisation which was largely promoted by the parliamentary leadership. Despite a gradual increase in middle class influence within the National Union and the efforts of Lord Randolph Churchill to turn the Conference into an instrument of grass roots control, the parliamentary party was able to retain a firmly independent position over policy making which has continued up to the present day and has strongly influenced the relationship between the grass roots party organisation and the parliamentary leadership. Both the composition of the modem Conference, which is largely dominated by self-selected middle class activists, and its size make it an unsuitable body for detailed policy making and this has tended to reinforce the leadership's traditional independence over the formulation of policy although the Conference has been able to directly influence a number of (mostly minor) matters and on a number of other issues it may well have had a more indirect effect. While the Conference has no real influence over the choice of party leader it provides him with a useful opportunity to communicate with the party’s supporters. The increased media coverage of the Conference has developed its importance as a part of the party's communications structure and although there is little evidence that the Conference has any very direct effect on voting behaviour it provides a valuable opportunity for the party to publicise its policies and its image to the electorate at large as distinct from the narrower audience of party activists inside the Conference Hall.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1974
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:37

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