It's current formal name, as registered with the UK Electrial Commission, is the Conservative and Union party although this is hardly never used.
After suffering two consecutive and humiliating general election defeats at the hand of the Labour party in 1997 and 2001 the Conservative party looks as if it faces a daunting task to become electable as a party of government (a party that can credibly run the country). In the last demographic survey of Conservative party members the average age was found to be 65.
The party remains heavily influenced Margaret Thatcher and Thatcherism as she was leader of the Conservative party from 1975 until her resignation on November 22 1990. She radicalised the party, taking firm control, promoting Euroscepticism and introducing Monetarism as a key element of her financial ideology. She went on to win three general elections but was placed in a position where she felt she would have to resign before she could fight her forth.
In her place John Major took over her role as leader of the Conservative party and Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. However the instability resulting from Thatcher's removal and the significantly reduced Conservative majority from the 1992 UK general election, which most commentators expected him to lose, proved to be overwelming.
During that time Eurosceptic rebels such as Iain Duncan Smith undermined him as he sought to find a balance between the factions of his party that were waring over Europe. At times he was forced to rely on Ulster Unionist party MPs to help him pass legislation through parliament.
At one point John Major actually resigned as Prime Minster and party leader in an attempt to bring his party under some sort of control. The 1997 UK general election the Labour swept the Conservatives away in a landslide victory and John Major resigned for the final time as leader of the Conservatives.
In his place William Hague was elected leader, defeating Ken Clarke. At first William Hague portrayed himself as an up-to-date member of society and attended the Notting Hill carnival. However by the time the 2001 UK general election came he concentrated on Europe, asylum seekers, tax cuts whilst declaring that only the Conservative party could "Save the Pound".
After the 2001 UK general election, when a low turnout resulted in the net gain of a single seat for the Conservative party, William Hague resigned as party leader.
Using a new leadership electoral system designed by Hague resulting in five candidates competing for the job; Michael Portillo, Iain Duncan Smith, Ken Clarke, David Davis and Micheal Ancram. The drawn out and unplesant election saw Conservative MPs select Ian Duncan Smith and Ken Clarke to be put forward for a vote by Conservative party members. As Conservative party members are characteristicaly Eurosceptic Ian Duncan Smith was elected, even though opinion polls showed that the public prefered Ken Clarke, a member of the Tory Reform Group.
Iain Duncan Smith is a strong eurosceptic; although he supports continued membership in the European Union, he opposes the UK ever joining the Euro, unlike his predecessor William Hague, who opposed joining the Euro for the term of the next parliament, without absolutely ruling out joining it in the future.
He since has filled his shadow cabinet with similarily unknown Eurosceptics, generally pushed the party further to the right, and alienated many Europhile and moderate Tories. Some believe that the party has turned so far right that they are now destined for political oblivion.
Famous Conservative MPs:
- Jonathan Aitken
- Jeffrey Archer
- Neville Chamberlain
- Winston Churchill
- William Hague
- Edward Heath
- John Major
- Reggie Maudling
- Enoch Powell
- Neil Hamilton
- Norman Tebbit
- Margaret Thatcher
- Ann Widdecombe
- Michael Portillo