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British Conservatism: The Politics and Philosophy of Inequality

British Conservatism: The Politics and Philosophy of Inequality
Peter Dorey

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Defence of inequality has always been a core principle of the Conservative Party in Great Britain. Yet the Conservatives have enjoyed great electoral success in a British society marked by widespread inequalities of wealth and income. Peter Dorey here examines the intellectual and political arguments which Conservatives use to justify inequality. He also considers debates between Conservatives over how much inequality is desirable or acceptable. Should inequality be unlimited, in order to promote liberty, incentives and rewards? Or should inequality be kept within certain bounds to prevent social breakdown and political upheaval? Finally, he examines why some less prosperous sections of British society have nonetheless supported the Conservatives instead of political parties promoting equality. This book will be an important resource for students and commentators of contemporary British politics.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Conservative Philosophy and Inequality
Chapter 2: Neo-liberal Conservatism – Unlimited Inequality
Chapter 3: One Nation Conservatism – Bounded Inequality
Chapter 4: Middle Class Acceptance of Inequality
Chapter 5: Working Class Acceptance of Inequality
Chapter 6: British Acceptance of Inequality and Conservative Political Success

Author Info

Peter Dorey is Reader in Politics at Cardiff University. He has published widely on the contemporary history of the Conservative Party, including 'The Conservative Party and the Trade Unions' (1995), 'The Major Premiership: Politics and Policies under John Major, 1990-97' (editor, 1999) and 'British Conservatism and Trade Unionism, 1945-1964' (2008).


This is a highly authoritative, sharp and impressive account of a much neglected aspect of Conservative Party politics and ideology. Peter Dorey seamlessly weaves together a conceptual deconstruction of Conservative justifications for inequality, with a thorough, detailed historical narrative and some intelligent and important insights. This book, which is superbly well written and engaging throughout, will serve as an invaluable resource for students and scholars of British politics alike.
– Peter Kerr, Senior Lecturer in Politics, University of Birmingham

In the wake of the Conservative accession to government, this book makes a significant contribution to the debate on the party’s past and present policy positions. It should thus be read by anyone interested in the politics of the Conservative party.
David Seawright, Senior Lecturer in British Politics, University of Leeds

This is an excellent study of the ideology of the Conservative Party, thoroughly researched and rightly highlighting the core ideological commitment that the party has to inequality.
– Kevin Hickson, Lecturer in the Department of Politics, University of Liverpool

This book provides a timely evaluation of the relationship between Conservative thought and inequality. Peter Dorey offers a detailed, insightful and persuasive analysis of Conservative attitudes towards inequality. It is an essential read for those seeking to understand the Conservative Party.
– Timothy Heppell, Lecturer in British Politics, University of Leeds

Few concepts in political studies cause more confusion than conservatism. Basing his account on the key issue of attitudes to equality, Peter Dorey has produced a lucid and thoroughly researched contribution to the subject. His book will be of great assistance to students of British Politics at all levels.
– Mark Garnett, Lecturer in Politics and International Relations, Lancaster University

‘A lucid, insightful, and provocative account in any context, its timeliness really sets it apart. British Conservatism: The Politics and Philosophy of Inequality was completed before the formation of the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition and the subsequent rise of UK Uncut and the anti-tax evasion movement, yet it manages to place all of this in political, philosophical, and historical context. Not only an invaluable academic resource, this is an essential guide to the road ahead.’
– Century British History

Bibliographic Info

Imprint: I.B.Tauris
Publisher: I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd.

ISBN: 9781845113520
Publication Date: 29 Oct 2010
Number of Pages: 288

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