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The Conservative Party and social policy$
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Hugh Bochel

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847424334

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847424334.001.0001

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The Conservative Party and the welfare state since 1945

The Conservative Party and the welfare state since 1945

(p.23) two The Conservative Party and the welfare state since 1945
The Conservative Party and social policy

Robert M. Page

Policy Press

This chapter addresses the longer-term development of Conservative Party thinking. Attention is focused first on the emergence and development of modern One Nation Conservatism from the end of the war until the demise of the Douglas-Home government in 1964. Second, attention is given to the neo-liberal turn in the Conservative approach to the welfare state, which surfaced briefly in the early years of the Ted Heath's government and came to fruition during the Margaret Thatcher (1979–90) and John Major (1990–97) eras. Third, David Cameron's ‘progressive’ Conservative approach to social welfare is explored. There have been significant changes in Conservative approaches to the welfare state over the post-war period. It can be concluded that Conservative ‘support’ for the welfare state has waxed and waned since the Second World War, depending to some extent on the relative strength of underlying paternalist or libertarian ‘dispositions’.

Keywords:   Conservative Party, One Nation Conservatism, Douglas-Home government, neo-liberal turn, social welfare, Ted Heath, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, David Cameron, welfare state

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