The History of England

from Celts through 20th century

The Conservative party

Category: Politics

The Conservative party of Great Britain (the official name The National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations) — was officially organized in 1867 on the basis of political groups of the English landed aristocracy. The origins of the party go down to the 17th century, when it was called the Tory party. The Tories (formed in 1679) staunchly supported the claims of monarchy. ‘Tory’ was initially a derogatory nickname, meaning an Irish bandit. In the course of its evolution in the 19th century the Conservative party became the main party of British top monopoly capital. It is also supported by the top military clique and bureaucracy, partially by bourgeois intellectuals, the well-paid employees and the labour aristocracy. Supported and financed by the clique of company directors, aristocrats, big business politicians the party is an advocate of capitalism and inperialism, openly defending capitalist exploitation at home and abroad. Its home policy is aimed at the limitation of trade union rights, prohibition of strikes, suppression of basic rights of the working class. The foreign policy of the Conservatives is likewise motivated by the interests of the British ruling class.

The Conservative party has no official permanent programme. On the eve of general elections the party issues a pre-election manifesto which states the main aspects of the home and foreign policies of the future Conservative government if the party wins the elections. However, it is necessary to emphasize the point that there is always a great gap between the pre-election promises and their actual implementation when the party comes to power.

Being a party of ‘big business’ the party always reduces state allocations for social security, gives priority to private enterprise by slashing funds for the nationalized sector of the economy, introduces taxation profitable for the big companies. The activity of the party is marked by further offensive of the monopolies on the social and economic rights of the working people, the anti-trade union measures, violations of basic human rights, especially in Northern Ireland.

Structurally the party consists of 650 local associations, each one covering an electoral constituency. One should remember that the House of Commons is formed by the deputies who have won majority in each of the 650 constituencies of Great Britain.

The Conservative party has no official membership, no membership cards and party dues. Formally the highest organ in the party is the annual conference. However, actual power is concentrated in the hands of the leader of the party. The leader is not elected by the annual conference, but by the MPs sitting in Parliament on behalf of the Conservative party — the so-called parliamentary party. The leader personally appoints the holders of the key positions in the central office. The decisions of the annual party conference and of the various organs of the party (the executive organ of the party in between the party conferences) are conveyed to the leader so that he may be kept constantly aware of the moods and opinions of the party members, but the leader is in no way bound by these resolutions. Pronouncements of party policy are the responsibilities of the leader. The leader may not even attend the annual conference except to deliver a speech at the end of the conference which is not open to discussion. Thus the relations between the ordinary members and the party leadership can only be described as undemocratic. The party issues its own paper Newsletter, the official journals of the party are Time and Tide, Politics Today. However, one should remember that the majority of the British press supports the Conservative party. The papers and journals are owned by the big monopolies.

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