The brief and turbulent life of modernising conservatism

Mitchell, Stuart (2006). The brief and turbulent life of modernising conservatism. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.



The Brief and Turbulent Life of Modernising Conservatism is an examination of government tensions and frustrations during a time of economic and social flux. It concentrates on the development of domestic industrial policy in the Conservative Party between 1945 and 1964, with particular emphasis on Harold Macmillan's and Sir Alec Douglas-Home's administrations. Between the general elections of 1959 and 1964, the Conservative Government effected a series of striking and dangerously controversial policy transformations in response to its recognition of Britain's relative economic decline. These adjustments were both practical and strategic. The administration's aim was extraordinarily ambitious. It sought to fashion a recognisably modern and dynamic, yet socially stable, nation that could retain its place in the international élite. Thereby, the Party hoped to ensure its own continuation in power. The author considers policy innovations that included an ill-starred attempt to join the European Community, the development of macro-economic planning, and the abolition of resale price maintenance–an exploit which roused the Tory Party to unusual heights of passion. The book does not simply regurgitate an orthodox high political narrative. Instead, it investigates topics of interest to modern historians and political scientists alike. It will be of value to anyone interested in questions of modern political ideology, social and economic change, the nature of popular political support, or the constraints on state power in the post-war world.

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