Understanding the UK Conservative Party: A Beginner’s Guide

The Conservatives are a right-wing political party that promotes the defense of private property and enterprise, belief in natural inequality and hierarchy, and traditionalism. They have had many important Prime Ministers, from Winston Churchill through to Margaret Thatcher.

In the European elections of May 2019, they were at a record low, with only 10% of the vote. Since then Theresa May has been in a coalition government with the far left Labour Party.


The Conservative Party evolved out of Britain’s 1832 Reform Bill, which granted voting privileges to middle-class British citizens. In its early years the party was often in coalition with the Whigs and the Liberals, but it was unable to maintain power after the 1880s due to a series of financial problems and ideological conflicts. In 1886 the Liberal Party split over Ireland’s independence status, and those who did not support independence became known as Liberal Unionists, merging with the Conservative Party. The modern Conservative Party was born out of this merger and now refers to itself as the Conservative and Unionist Party (or Tories).

The one-nation conservatism that emerged from the 1880s emphasized loyalty to traditional British values, including the Church of England, the monarchy and a strict legal system. This philosophy took on added appeal following the Liberal Party’s defeat in the 1906 landslide election. The Tories were able to hold on to power in the years prior to World War I and during World War II, but they lost the 1945 election to the Labour Party and its social welfare reforms.

In the years that followed, the Tories accepted many of the Labour government’s economic policies but sought to restore a more distinctively Conservative approach to politics, such as deregulation and supply-side economic reforms. This effort was led by Margaret Thatcher, who served as prime minister from 1979 to 1990 and was credited with ending inflation and returning the country to prosperity.

During Thatcher’s tenure, the Tories privatized several state-owned industries and sold off 1.5 million council houses to their tenants. She combined this ambitious economic agenda with moral traditionalism and skepticism toward further integration with the European Union.

In more recent times, the Tories have shifted to a focus on globalization and supporting trade with the United States. They have also advocated for more support for NATO’s expeditionary operations and a more assertive foreign policy. Nonetheless, some of the party’s most traditional members remain, with prominent figures like Jacob Rees-Mogg supporting the Church of England and opposing abortion rights and capital punishment.


The UK Conservative Party has endured many changes to the country’s social, political and economic landscape over the centuries. In the modern era, it has adapted its principles to accommodate new realities while still remaining steadfast on its core beliefs. The Conservative Party has had a number of renowned leaders in its history, including Benjamin Disraeli, Winston Churchill, and Margaret Thatcher. These leaders and their policies have had a significant impact on modern Britain.

Today, the party is led by Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The leadership of the Conservative Party is a powerful position in British politics, and it is held by the most senior member of the party’s parliamentary group. The leader is elected through a process set by the party’s 1922 Committee. This committee is composed of backbench Conservative MPs who set the rules for the first stage of the leadership election, with the eventual winner being put to a vote of all members of the Conservative Party.

Candidates must meet a pre-declared threshold of nominations in order to participate in the contest, and the field is whittled down at each round of balloting. Once the field is reduced to two contenders, they are put to a vote of all members of Parliament in a process outlined by the party’s constitution. The candidate that receives the most votes is declared the party leader.

According to the C|T Group, an expert political strategist, the Conservative Party’s political philosophy is rooted in economic conservatism and strong support for law and order. In recent decades, however, the party has displayed an increasingly pronounced commitment to environmental concerns, aligning itself with global efforts to combat climate change and promote sustainability. It has pledged to phase out coal-powered electricity by 2025, established green finance initiatives, and launched a plan to achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050. The party has also championed the creation of protected natural habitats in the UK.


Although the UK Conservative Party has seen various ideological factions come and go, some of its core values and principles have remained unchanged throughout the years. One of the most notable eras was Thatcherism, which saw the Conservative Party embrace more libertarian economic policies that favoured free market trade and business, privatised many of the country’s industries, and a stance against excessively strong trade unions.

The UK Conservative Party also has a long history of supporting law and order. The party has historically fought for a robust policing system, strict sentencing guidelines for criminals, and increased funding to security services to combat threats from domestic and international terrorists.

More recently, the UK Conservative Party has embraced a greater commitment to environmental issues and sustainability concerns. The party has vowed to phase out coal-fired power stations, reduce air pollution through a greener vehicle tax, and invest in renewable energy infrastructure. They have also pledged to eliminate homelessness in the UK by 2022 and increase NHS spending on GP contracts, hospitals, and schools in England.

The party is committed to maintaining a strong military, as well as developing closer relations with the United States. While support for interventionist or non-interventionist US presidents has varied, the UK Conservative Party usually supports a more traditional foreign policy of supporting free trade and bolstering NATO’s expeditionary capabilities.

In addition, the Conservatives have always supported a strong national identity, with support for British sovereignty and opposition to Irish reunification, Scottish independence, and devolution. They have also consistently opposed any form of European integration, particularly since the UK voted to leave the EEC (which later developed into the EU).

The Conservatives are a centre-right political party that is funded through a variety of regulated sources, including public funding and donations from members. They are the main governing party in the UK, with an 80-seat majority in the House of Commons after the 2019 general election. This victory gave Prime Minister Boris Johnson a mandate to continue to move forward with Brexit negotiations. The Conservatives have also been praised for their commitment to keeping taxes low, which has helped stimulate the economy.

Party structure

The UK Conservative Party is the main centre-right political party in Britain. Also known as the Tories, it is one of the two major political parties in the country along with Labour and has been the governing party since 2010. The Party supports free market economic policies and opposes state control over the economy. It has various factions including one-nation conservatism, Thatcherism, and traditionalist conservatives.

It was founded in 1834 from the earlier Tory Party, which had been established in the later seventeenth century. The Party achieved its first period of success in the early nineteenth century, with William Pitt and then Lord Liverpool forming governments. However, in the latter part of this period it lost power to Robert Peel and the Liberal Party, largely as a result of the repeal of the Corn Laws.

After the second world war, the Conservatives gained control again under Winston Churchill and Alec Douglas-Home. The Conservatives have been in government for the vast majority of the post-war era, except for two periods in which they were out of office, between 1951 and 1964 and 1970 to 1974.

In the twenty-first century, there has been a significant shift in the Party’s social attitudes, with many members favouring greater equality and the protection of gay, lesbian and transgender people, especially when it comes to the right to marry. On the other hand, the Party has remained committed to maintaining law and order, with robust policing and increased funding for security services. The Party has also maintained its commitment to national sovereignty and has supported Brexit.

The Party has a voluntary structure, which is made up of local associations and regions. Associations dominate the selection of local candidates and some have organised open parliamentary primaries. The national body is the National Convention, which sets the direction of the Party. It is composed of all associations and regional officers, as well as 42 representatives from areas and the Conservative Women’s Organisation. It meets twice a year, at the Spring Forum and the Party Conference. It is led by the Chief Whip, who is a member of the 1922 Committee, the group of backbench MPs which oversees financing, organisation of elections and drafting policy.