Conservative Party strategy, 1997-2001 : nation and national identity
This research is a detailed analysis of the Conservative Party leadership's understanding of British nationhood and national identity and its use of those concepts as part of its strategy during the 1997-2001 parliament. The evolution of Hague's strategy will be examined and both the leadership's conception of British nationhood and national identity and its utilisation of those concepts as part of its strategy will be analysed. Why did Hague use those concepts and why did he believe an appeal to the electorate's sense of national identity was an important part of his overall strategy? Was the leadership united in its understanding of nationhood and national identity and in agreement as to the role that those concepts should play within the party's strategy? Did the strategic role played by those concepts change during the parliament? Why did those concepts fail to adapt the party to being in Opposition and enable it to maximise its electoral support? Amongst the most important findings is that when conceptualising national identity, the leadership can be split into two groups, modernisers and traditionalists and both believed they were appealing to the majority of British people. As the 2001 General Election approached, Hague abandoned a long-term modernising approach to party renewal and emphasised policies which he believed would shore up the party's core support base, whilst also broadening its support. The politics of nationhood were central to this traditionalist approach. The issues that Hague emphasised were not salient and succeeded only in deepening, not broadening, the party's support.