‘Progressive’ Turns in Post-1945 Conservative Social Policy



This paper explores the diverse ways in which the Conservative Party has responded to the notion of progress in relation to social policy during its periods in government since the Second World War. It identifies three distinctive approaches – one nation progressive conservatism (1945–74), neo-liberal (anti-progressive) conservatism (1979–97) and progressive neo-liberal conservatism (2010–present), highlighting the dilemmas and difficulties the party has faced in engaging with a concept that it has always found to be problematic.