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Factionalism in the Conservative Party : the 'anti-Europeans' since 1970

By Philippa Jane Smedley


The Conservative Parliamentary Party (CPP), traditionally regarded as a party of unity and cohesion by many leading academics, has since the early 1970's, witnessed a public display of internal controversies and disunity amongst its members. In the last twenty-eight years, successive\ud Conservative governments have required the CPP to adopt the Treaty of Rome and two major treaty changes. It is the intention of this research to show that it is specifically the task of securing parliament's ratification of the Treaty of Rome and subsequent changes, which has fragmented the CPP and catalysed division. It is argued that since Britain's third attempt to join the European Economic Community (EEC) in 1971, a number of Conservative Members of Parliament (MP's) have persistently opposed the principle of entry and any further attempts at integration. Their behaviour, in the furtherance of this aim, is to be regarded as "factional."\ud \ud In support of these two positions, this research narrates the story of Britain's integration with the evolutionary institutions of Europe, from the perspective of those Conservative Members of Parliament who, since the vote on principle of entry on 28 October 1971, have engaged in\ud behaviour contrary to that expected by their leadership and colleagues. No academic work to date has closely examined the internal dynamics of factions within the CPP, which constitutes a crucial area of importance and academic interest as to the effective functioning of the party in office in the latter part of this century. This research goes some way towards the remedy of this omission by\ud providing a case study of internal dissent over the span of the European debates, from the Parliamentary debates over Britain's membership of the BC 1971-2 to the European Finance debate in November 1994. The case demonstrates both the dynamics and effective roles in the CPP and the\ud nature of party factionalism in contemporary British politics

Publisher: School of Politics & International Studies (POLIS) (Leeds)
Year: 1998
OAI identifier:

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