Neither spatial models of party competition nor the ‘Westminster’ model of British politics explain the phenomenon of Thatcherism. One explanation of its success, examined by Crewe and Searing, suggests that Mrs Thatcher sought to convert the Conservative party and the wider electorate to her distinctive brand of liberal Whiggism and traditional Toryism. They found little evidence of the success of this, however, among the British electorate as a whole. In this paper, data from the first national survey of Conservative party members demonstrates that she had little success in converting the Conservative party to these ideas either, although she did have a secure ideological base within the party. The results also suggest that her successor, John Major, has a rather different support base within the party from that of Mrs Thatcher. The implications of these findings for spatial models of party competition and the Westminster model of British politics are discussed.
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|Published - Jun 1994