Conservative Party Modernisation and David Cameron's Politics of the Family

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Abstract

A key feature of David Cameron's electoral appeal is his carefully cultivated image as a ‘family man’. Cameron has repeatedly stressed the importance of the family to his political views and stated his desire to see marriage rewarded through the tax system. At the same time, Cameron has presented himself as a modernising leader, keen to demonstrate that he and his party are in touch with contemporary society. Central to this effort to detoxify the Conservative brand has been an emphasis on social liberalism. The potential conflict between these two objectives reflects the division in the party between social liberals and traditionalists, which has become increasingly apparent over the past decade. This article examines Conservative party policy and rhetoric on social and moral issues since 1997, particularly gay rights and family policy. It notes that a significant divide remains in the Conservative party between social liberals and traditionalists, so in this respect Cameron's modernisation project remains far from complete.

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