Conservative Party (UK)

political party in the United Kingdom

The Conservative Party, officially the Conservative and Unionist Party, and also known colloquially as the Tories, Tory Party, or simply the Conservatives, is one of the two main political parties, and current governing party, in the United Kingdom, winning the 2019 general election with an overall majority in the House of Commons. The party is generally considered to sit on the centre-right of the political spectrum, and to be ideologically conservative. As a big tent party, it encompasses various ideological factions including one-nation conservatives, Thatcherites, liberal conservatives and conservative liberals.

QuotesEdit

  • We are not afraid on this side of the House of social reform. Members of our party were fighting for the working classes when Members or the ancestors of Members opposite were shackled with laissez faire. Disraeli was advocating combination among agricultural labourers years before the agricultural labourer had the vote, and when he first began to preach the necessity of sanitation in the crowded centres of this country, the Liberal Party called it a "policy of sewage." We stand on three basic principles, as we have done for two generations past—the maintenance of the institutions of our country, the preservation and the development of our Empire, and the improvement of the conditions of our own people; and we adapt those principles to the changing needs of each generation.
  • If there is any party in the State which, by its traditions and its history, is entitled to put in the forefront of its work and its programme the betterment of the conditions of life of the working classes, it is our party. (Hear, hear.) We were fighting the battle of the factory hand long before he had a vote; and when the Liberals were tied up in the shackles of laissez faire we were speaking in favour of the combination of working men, long before the Liberals had thought of the subject. It is more than 50 years ago that Disraeli was calling the attention of the country to housing and health questions, and they mocked him with the policy of sewage. The sanitation, or let me say the spiritual sanitation, of our people should have the first call on the historic Tory Party. It is just in the measure as we can convince the country, by the service we give the country, that we are as genuinely interested in these questions and as generally prepared to sacrifice ourselves in solving these questions as any member of the Labour Party, that the country will trust us and that the country will return us again into power.
    • Stanley Baldwin, speech to a meeting of the Unionist Party at the Hotel Cecil (11 February 1924), quoted in The Times (12 February 1924), p. 17
  • I want to see the spirit of service to the whole nation the birthright of every member of the Unionist Party—Unionist in the sense that we stand for the union of those two nations of which Disraeli spoke two generations ago; union among our own people to make one nation of our people at home which, if secured, nothing else matters in the world.
    • Stanley Baldwin, speech in the Albert Hall (4 December 1924), quoted in On England, and Other Addresses (1926), p. 73.
  • Toryism, as we know it, was illuminated, expounded, and made a gospel for a large portion of this country by the genius of Benjamin Disraeli. Most of us who have worked for our great party have founded our beliefs on, and derived our inspiration from that statesman.
    • Stanley Baldwin, speech to the centenary dinner of the City of London Conservative and Unionist Association (2 July 1936), quoted in Service of Our Lives (1937), pp. 37-38
  • Tories and others set about the task of dealing with the social consequences of the Industrial Revolution by calling upon the power of Government to redress injustice... [The State] assumed the functions of protecting the common interest and safeguarding the interests of the weaker members of society.
    • Rab Butler, About the Industrial Charter (Conservative Political Centre, 1947), pp. 4-5
  • The term "planning" is a new word for coherent and positive policy. The conception of strong Government policy in economic matters is, I believe, the very centre of the Conservative tradition. We have never been a party of laissez-faire.
    • Rab Butler, About the Industrial Charter (Conservative Political Centre, 1947), p. 6
  • Conservatives were planning before the word entered the vocabulary of political jargon.
    • Rab Butler, About the Industrial Charter (Conservative Political Centre, 1947), pp. 6-7
  • Truly Conservative policies [are] freeing markets, freeing the economy, giving the economy buoyancy, moving to liberty and the desirable goal of freeing payments and trade.
    • Rab Butler, speech at the Conservative Party conference of 1954, quoted in Ralph Harris, Politics Without Prejudice. A Political Appreciation of The Rt. Hon. Richard Austen Butler C.H., M.P. (1956), p. 159
  • Conservatives have always been ready to use the power of the State.
    • Rab Butler, Our Way Ahead (Conservative Political Centre, 1956), p. 10
  • I had derived from Bolingbroke an assurance that the majesty of the State might be used in the interests of the many, from Burke a belief in seeking patterns of improvement by balancing diverse interests, and from Disraeli an insistence that the two nations must become one. If my brand of Conservatism was unorthodox, I was committing heresy in remarkably good company.
    • Rab Butler, The Art of the Possible (1971), p. 134
  • The fact is, that in social questions the Tories have almost always been more progressive than the Liberals, and the Conservative leaders in their latest legislation have only gone back to the old Tory traditions. Almost all the legislation dealing with Labour questions has been initiated by Tory statesmen, and most of it has been passed by Tory Governments. The Factory and Workshops Acts, the Mines Regulation Act, Merchant Shipping legislation, the Acts relating to sanitation, artisans' dwellings, land purchase, allotments, small holdings and free education are all Conservative, and it is therefore historically inaccurate to represent the Tory Party as opposed to socialistic legislation.
    • Joseph Chamberlain, 'The Labour Question', The Nineteenth Century, No. CLXXXIX (November 1892), pp. 709-710
  • The Tory party is only in its proper position when it represents popular principles. Then it is truly irresistible. Then it can uphold the throne and the altar, the majesty of the empire, the liberty of the nation, and the rights of the multitude. There is nothing mean, petty, or exclusive, about the real character of Toryism. It necessarily depends upon enlarged sympathies and noble aspirations, because it is essentially national.
    • Benjamin Disraeli, speech to a Conservative dinner (26 June 1863), quoted in William Flavelle Monypenny and George Earle Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield. Volume II. 1860–1881 (1929), p. 114
  • For what is the Tory party unless it represents national feeling? If it does not represent national feeling, Toryism is nothing. It does not depend upon hereditary coteries of exclusive nobles. It does not attempt power by attracting to itself the spurious force which may accidentally arise from advocating cosmopolitan principles or talking cosmopolitan jargon. The Tory party is nothing unless it represent and uphold the institutions of the country.
    • Benjamin Disraeli, speech in Mansion House, London (7 August 1867), quoted in William Flavelle Monypenny and George Earle Buckle, The Life of Benjamin Disraeli, Earl of Beaconsfield. Volume II. 1860–1881 (1929), p. 287
  • Gentlemen, the Tory party, unless it is a national party, is nothing.
    • Benjamin Disraeli, speech to the banquet of the National Union of Conservative and Constitutional Associations in Crystal Palace, London (24 June 1872), quoted in The Times (25 June 1872), p. 7
  • [T]here was one principle underlying their approach to all these problems—a principle upon which they stood in fundamental opposition to Socialism. The Conservative objective was a nation-wide property-owning democracy. Both parties believed in a form of capitalism, but whereas their opponents believed in State capitalism they believed in the widest measure of individual capitalism. Man should be master of his environment, and not its slave. That was what freedom meant. ... [W]e of the Conservative Party must maintain that the ownership of property is not a crime or a sin, but a reward, a right, and a responsibility that must be shared as equitably as possible among all our citizens.
    • Anthony Eden, speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Blackpool (3 October 1946), quoted in The Times (4 October 1946), p. 2
  • At core Conservatism stands for the individual, his right to liberty, to justice, to respect for his own distinctive personality. It regards the family as the basic social unit—(cheers)—and the sanctity of family life as vital to the health of the State.
    • Anthony Eden, speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton (2 October 1947), quoted in The Times (3 October 1947), p. 2
  • We are not a Party of unbridled, brutal capitalism, and never have been. Although we believe in personal responsibility and personal initiative in business, we are not the political children of the "laissez-faire" school. We opposed them decade after decade.
    • Anthony Eden, speech to the Conservative Party Conference in Brighton (2 October 1947), quoted in The Times (3 October 1947), p. 2. Also quoted in The New Conservatism (Conservative Political Centre, 1955), pp. 11-12
  • In any case, there is no evidence that the Tories have any intention of doing any of the things they say they will do. The "do everything necessary" rhetoric is bullshit. It’s just a mantra to hide the absence of concrete action and any enforcement mechanism. This can only get much worse, as the entire world economy nosedives, millions more are laid off, and we enter a period of catastrophic social breakdown comparable with the Great Depression. The Tories know this is coming. They are preparing for it.
  • As a matter of hard, dry fact, from which there can be no getting away, there is more Labour legislation standing to the credit account of the Conservative Party on the Statute Books than there is to that of their opponents. It is a grotesque assumption that one side exists for the purpose of passing such legislation while the other does so grudgingly and under the force of compulsion.
    • Keir Hardie, Labour Politics, Tracts for the Times, No. 2 (July 1903), quoted in Robert McKenzie and Allan Silver, Angels in Marble: Working Class Conservatives in Urban England (1968), p. 44, n. 60
  • Now if Conservative has any meaning at all, it means anti-Radical. The Radicals are the only inheritors of the revolutionary views which the Conservative party was set up to counteract; and the two can no more act together, if both are honest, than a weasel can act with a rat. Hostility to Radicalism, incessant, implacable hostility, is the essential definition of Conservatism. The fear that the Radicals may triumph is the only final cause that the Conservative party can plead for their own existence.
    • Lord Salisbury, 'English Politics and Parties', Bentley's Quarterly Review, vol. I (March & July 1859), p. 12
  • My belief is that the main strength of the Tory party, both in the richer and poorer classes, lies in its association with the honour of the country.
    • Lord Salisbury to Lord Randolph Churchill (1 October 1886), quoted in Winston Churchill, Lord Randolph Churchill, Vol. II (1906), p. 162
  • If I were asked to define Conservative policy, I should say that it was the upholding of confidence.
    • Lord Salisbury, speech in Nottingham (26 November 1889), quoted in Andrew Roberts, Salisbury: Victorian Titan (1999), p. 544
  • I have heard it stated—and I confess with some surprise—as an article of Conservative opinion that paternal Government—that is to say, the use of the machinery of Government for the benefit of the people—is a thing in itself detestable and wicked. I am unable to subscribe to that doctrine, either politically or historically. I do not believe it to have been a doctrine of the Conservative party at any time. On the contrary, if you look back, even to the earlier years of the present century, you will find the opposite state of things; you will find the Conservative party struggling to confer benefits—perhaps ignorantly and unwisely, but still sincerely—through the instrumentality of the State, and resisted by a severe doctrinaire resistance from the professors of Liberal opinions. When I am told that it is an essential part of Conservative opinion to resist any such benevolent action on the part of the State, I should expect Bentham to turn in his grave; it was he who first taught the doctrine that the State should never interfere, and any one less like a Conservative than Bentham it would be impossible to conceive... The Conservative party has always leaned—perhaps unduly leaned—to the use of the State, as far as it can properly be used, for the improvement of the physical, moral, and intellectual condition of our people, and I hope that that mission the Conservative party will never renounce, or allow any extravagance on the other side to frighten them from their just assertion of what has always been its true and inherent principles.
    • Lord Salisbury, speech to the United Club (15 July 1891), quoted in The Times (16 July 1891), p. 10
  • From its beginnings the Conservative Party has been characterized by a relatively firm and enterprising fiscal policy, being responsible, not only for constant restrictions on free trade, but also for the introduction of regular income tax, and for legislation which governed the sale and conditions of labour. In the light of history, its post-war conversion to Keynesian economic theory might be seen as a natural intellectual development, a further move away from the view...that economic affairs are self-regulating...towards the more plausible view that the posture of the state is all-important, and that, without the state's surveillance, destitution and unemployment could result at any time. And it is perhaps no accident that, when the Conservative Party under Margaret Thatcher abandoned this conception of the state's economic role, and took up the banner of liberal economics, it was, in time, deserted by the electorate, so that the old alliance of interests which it had for a century represented suddenly fell apart. The odd thing, however, is that the policy which caused the Conservative Party's collapse – free market economics, under the aegis of global corporations – is the policy most fervently adopted by the New Labour Party of Tony Blair, and will no doubt be the downfall of that Party too.
    • Roger Scruton, The Meaning of Conservatism: Third Edition (2001), p. 106
  • We stand for the State and for the unity which, whether in the form of kingdom or empire or class solidarity, the State alone can bring. Above all stands the State and in that phrase lies the essence of Toryism. Our ancestors left it to us, and not the least potent method of preserving it is to link the conception of State Toryism with the practice of Social Reform.
    • F. E. Smith, 'State Toryism and Social Reform', Unionist Policy and Other Essays (1913), p. 46
  • The Conservative Party is the parent of trade unionism, just as it is the author of the Factory Acts. At every stage in the history of the nineteenth century it is to Toryism that trade unionism has looked for help and support against the oppressions of the Manchester School of liberalism, which cared nothing for the interests of the state, and regarded men as brute beasts whose labour could be bought and sold at the cheapest price, irrespective of all other considerations.
    • F. E. Smith, 'Introduction', H. Hills and M. Woods, Industrial Unrest: A Practical Solution (1914)
  • On Thursday, I went to a party of the Primrose League, founded 100 years ago in favour of the constitution, patriotism, decency and all that. The members are mostly very old and they have not got much money; but they speak more accurately in the voice of British Conservatism than anyone else. I know rather more young Conservatives than most people do and I think that this sort of thing strikes a stronger chord in their hearts than Monetarism v. Keynesism. What a wonderful thing if someone would try to revive the Primrose League to its former eminence. Think of the patronising remarks from Brian Redhead and other media connoisseurs of Tory antiques. And think how reassured Britain would be!
    • T. E. Utley, 'Bewildered but still loyal', The Daily Telegraph (19 October 1981), quoted in Charles Moore and Simon Heffer (eds.), A Tory Seer: The Selected Journalism of T. E. Utley (1989), p. 71
  • [T]he modern Tory Party is top-heavy with shallow minds and blatant self-seekers. They expect quick results and have little guts or loyalty. They short-change the leader when the going's rough. It was lucky we didn't have a cowardly crew like that when we stood alone against Hitler. They're nothing like the old Tory MP squires who put first their duty to the country.
    • Woodrow Wyatt, journal entry (16 July 1997), quoted in Woodrow Wyatt, The Journals of Woodrow Wyatt, Volume Three, ed. Sarah Curtis (2000), p. 759

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