Mastering Politics: The Conservative Party

3 January 2018

By Lauren E. White

Political parties are not the easiest organisations to figure out, so if you’re in a bit of a pickle with them, worry not – we’ve got your back.

The Conservative Party was founded in 1834 from the Tory Party, hence why the Conservatives are often called ‘Tories’ by people, politicians and the media alike. They believe in capitalism, an economic system where a country’s trade and industries are controlled by private companies, not the government/state.

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As of December 2013 (which is the latest published figure in December 2017), the Conservative Party had 149,800 members who pay a fee to the Party in support. They receive a membership card and if they have been a member for three months, they can vote in party elections and attend the Conservative Party Conference, an annual event that sees a party lay out its vision for the future and review the past year. It is attended by members, Members of Parliament (MPs), the leader and those working at a local government level.

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1922 Committee

The Conservatives are also represented in Parliament with the 1922 Committee, officially known as the Conservative Private Members’ Committee. This committee is vitally important for the function of the Conservatives as it consists of backbench MPs – those who have no role in the government and their main focus is their constituency – who meet weekly and communicate their views to one another. They are important also as they are supposed to back the leader of the party. However, if they don’t and show signs of rebellion, often the leader will meet with the 1922 Committee to try and appease them.

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Margaret Thatcher

Famous Conservative Prime Ministers and their achievements have been:

Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister from 1979 to 1990 and Conservative leader from 1975 to 1990. Main achievements: first female Prime Minister, led a huge privatisation process in Britain by selling off industries to private companies and closed mining industries in Newcastle, Durham, Wales and other places in order to make a more profitable economy.

Winston Churchill, Prime Minister from 1940 to 1945 and then again from 1951 to 1955. Main achievements: was Britain’s Prime Minister throughout WWII, was a large part in the passing of the People’s Budget in which he advocated for compulsory health insurance for workers earning less than £160 per year and when Home Secretary in November 1910, a suffragette demonstration in Parliament Square was met with six hours of street fighting and 200 arrests.

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