The Conservative Party and European integration, 1945-1975
Much of the study of the British Conservative Party has been concerned with the power of the Party Leader. Two conflicting interpretations have been presented: the monolithic view that power lies essentially in the hands of the Leader, and the pluralist view that power is widely dispersed within the party. This dissertation examines the validity of these interpretations with regard to the question of Britain's attitude to European integration from 1945 to 1975, an issue which has traditionally been seen to support the monolithic view. The primary method of investigation in this study has been the examination of primary sources in the archives of the Conservative Party and other relevant bodies, supported by interviews with participants. The Introduction presents the two interpretations and demonstrates that the monolithic view has been widely presented as the correct one to explain the party's position on European integration. Chapter One reviews the literature on the distribution of power within the Conservative Party. Within the framework of the various elements that make up the party, the issue is examined chronologically. Chapter Two examines 1945 to 1951; Chapter Three, 1951 to 1960; Chapter Four, 1961 to 1963; Chapter Five, 1963 to 1970; Chapter 6, 1970 to 1972; and Chapter Seven, 1973-1975. The final chapter argues that the electoral orientation of the Conservative Party leads to a pluralist distribution of power, and that the study of the European issue supports that interpretation. This thesis substantially undermines an important source of support for the monolithic interpretation and provides additional support for the pluralist view of the distribution of power within the Conservative Party.