Conservative Party Leadership of John Major 1992 to 1997

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This book offers an innovative and distinctive analysis of the Conservative Party Leadership of John Major. Based on original research, this book addresses the absence of an in depth exploration of the much maligned, but largely misunderstood, Conservative Party Leadership tenure of John Major. The majority of academic publications of the Major era have been located within a broader analysis of the ideology of Thatcherism and the politics and policies of the Thatcher governments. By examining the Major era from an intra-party management perspective, this book examines the constraints imposed upon post-Thatcherite Conservative Party leadership. It argues that the collapse of the Conservative Party in the post-Thatcherite era should be attributed to an insoluble ideological schism over European integration and a diminishing parliamentary majority, as opposed to the inadequacies of John Major as leader of the Conservative Party. Constituting a comprehensive yet accessible evaluation of the complexity of managing the tensions of the post-Thatcherite Conservative Party, this book breaks new ground in an area that has been largely neglected. It provides a compelling insight into the crisis of contemporary British Conservatism.


“ ... with the end of the Cold War and the emergence of New Labour, the ideological bases of twentieth century Conservatism – anti-socialism and anti-communism – were collapsing. Faced by this ideological and political flux Dr. Heppell argues Major actually did a remarkable job given the poor hand he was dealt … [this] valuable and important book provides a powerful rejoinder to the facile view that the Conservative Party’s implosion was the result of weak leadership.” – (From the Commendatory Preface) Professor Andrew Taylor, University of Sheffield

“ Dr. Heppell’s [work] assesses the leadership of Major between 1992-1997 … there is no clear competitor to this work… this [work] is thoroughly researched and carefully argued. The data collected is thoughtfully evaluated … I would recommend this work to my undergraduate students and suggest … that copies by purchased and placed in the University of York Library.” – Dr. Matt Beech, Lecturer, University of York

“ ... Undergraduate and post-graduate students, academics and historians interested in the Conservative Party or in British Politics since the early 1990s will find this to be an invaluable and original piece of work. While the book is quite specialist in character it will also have some appeal to interested general readers.” – Professor Brendan Evans, University of Huddersfield

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures
Commendatory Preface by Professor Andrew Taylor
1. Introduction
2. Conservatism and the Conservative Party: Ideology and Politics
3. Electoral Hegemony and Governing Competence
4. The Legislative Cohesion of the Parliamentary Conservative Party
5. The Ideological Composition of the Parliamentary Conservative Party
6. John Major and the Conservative Party Agenda
7. John Major and the Power of Ministerial Appointment
8. The Insecurity of Tenure of John Major
9. The Political Ambitions and Leadership Style of John Major

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