Conservative Party (UK)

British political party
(Redirected from Tories)

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. Its current leader is Prime Minister Rishi Sunak. 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.

Quotes edit

  • 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.
  • [T]he themes of freedom, patriotism, a national party, one nation, national unity, authority, continuity, the rule of law, the improvement of social and economic conditions, balance and moderation, as well of course as the importance of "circumstances", have not faded. These themes are not single or separate. Each by itself would be discordant. They intermingle, and they have to be worked out together.
    • Ian Gilmour, Inside Right: A Study of Conservatism (1977), p. 146
  • In the absence of religion, patriotism seems the right and indeed the only possible candidate for the Tories. "What's good for General Motors may be good for the USA," Mrs Thatcher has said, "but nothing that's bad for Britain can ever be good for Conservatives." The Conservative cause is the national cause. Anything that is good for the country is good for Conservatism.
    • Ian Gilmour, Inside Right: A Study of Conservatism (1977), p. 166
  • Now think of Boris Johnson. All of these feelings will apply to him. He is going to be Heath with jokes added in, and Thatcher with consistency taken out, all rolled into a bundle of resentment, denial, attention-seeking and attempted vindication that will be a permanent nightmare for the new prime minister. That he wants revenge on Rishi Sunak is already apparent, but if Liz Truss is elected, she will face the identical problem. The chances of her loyalty to him being repaid are close to zero. Boris lives his life as a performance, and he will want the next act to fill every seat in the theatre of British political life. The Conservative Party had no choice but to remove Johnson from office. His standards of governance and veracity had fallen below what reasonable people could defend. The downside is that the party will always have the problem of what he will say next.
  • 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
  • In legislation affecting the special interests of the working classes it is a simple fact that the Tories took the lead of the Liberals. Not only with regard to the physical condition of the manufacturing operatives were the Tories the first to introduce a series of remedial measures, but it was reserved for them also to complete their own work some forty years afterwards by the measures which Lord Beaconsfield adopted for the protection of the rights of labour, and the final adjustment of the relations between employers and employed.
    • T. E. Kebbel, A History of Toryism: From the Accession of Mr. Pitt to Power in 1783 to the Death of Lord Beaconsfield in 1881 (1886), p. 405
  • In its defence of the Monarchy, the Church, and the territorial Constitution of this country, the Tory Party has never faltered. Personal liberty, the rights of property, and the rights of labour have, in more recent days, found their warmest supporters in the Tories. And with these words inscribed upon its banner, Toryism need not be ashamed to speak with its enemies in the gate.
    • T. E. Kebbel, A History of Toryism: From the Accession of Mr. Pitt to Power in 1783 to the Death of Lord Beaconsfield in 1881 (1886), p. 408
  • Today "nationalism" is out of fashion among the opinion-formers. Thanks to a superficial misreading of history, it is accused of having been responsible for two world wars and has widely come to be regarded as a political sin of the first magnitude, fortunately found only in such antiquated and obsolete figures as General de Gaulle. In fact the real danger comes from ideologies not nationalism; for while a nation may properly respect the nationhood of others, an ideology knows no frontiers... Once [the Tories] lose their claim to be, in the fullest sense, the "national party", they are left, as they are in danger of being left today, either as the party of the "individual" – a noble but to most people an austere and forbidding creed – or else as the party of the middle classes, which condemns them to a permanent minority.
    • Nigel Lawson, 'A Tract for the Tories', The Spectator (1967), quoted in Nigel Lawson, The View from No. 11: Memoirs of a Tory Radical (1992), p. 8
  • The pandemic, explained the Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, was the definitive ‘end of the neoliberal era inaugurated by Thatcher and Reagan’. We don’t just hear that from Social Democrats these days. Now right-wing populists, journalists and economists also claim that ‘the Reagan/Thatcher era is over’. These two leaders are often used as symbols of the era of economic liberalization in the early 1980s, and I agree that it feels an awful lot like that era has come to an end. Donald Trump’s advisor Stephen Moore declared that the Republicans are no longer Reagan’s party but Trump’s, and that’s exactly how the party comes across in their recent agitation against free trade, immigration and tech companies, not to mention lies about election fraud. (Reagan once called the peaceful transfer of power the ‘magic’ of the free world.) Thatcher’s Tories have abandoned the European single market she was once instrumental in developing, and have simultaneously abandoned many other economic orthodoxies, toying with more active industrial policies and ‘Buy British’ slogans – a new attitude that Boris Johnson in an unguarded moment happened to summarize as ‘fuck business’. His short-lived successor, Liz Truss, who famously declared that large-scale imports of cheese were ‘a disgrace’, tried to invoke the Iron Lady, albeit through her boldness rather than her policies. Instead, Truss railed against the ‘consensus of the Treasury, of economists, with the Financial Times’ that budgets should be balanced and went on to doom her premiership with a massive, unfunded package of energy subsidies and tax cuts, which markets refused to finance.
    • Johan Norberg, The Capitalist Manifesto: Why the Global Free Market Will Save the World (2023)
  • I am a Liberal of the Liberals. I have supported Liberal measures ever since I came into this House, but it has been borne into my mind that the interests of the working classes, when at issue between themselves and capitalists, are safer with the Conservatives than the Liberals. I suppose the working classes of the country will not be slow in arriving at that conclusion, which has been forced upon my mind.
    • Samuel Plimsoll, speech in the House of Commons (14 May 1873), quoted in The Campaign Guide: An Election Handbook for Unionist Speakers (1894), p. 97
  • 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)
  • The persistence of the Foxite tradition in one section of the governing class made it possible for Grey, at the end of his long career, to constitute a party in the unreformed Parliament, large enough when backed from outside by the middle and lower classes, to pass the Bill that abolished the rotten boroughs. Nothing else could have ultimately averted civil war. It was certainly inevitable, and it may have been desirable, that a great Conservative reaction should emphasise our rejection of the French doctrines. But if the whole of the privileged class had joined Pitt's anti-Jacobin bloc and had been brought up in the neo-Tory tradition, the constitution could not have been altered by legal means, and change could only have come in nineteenth-century Britain along the same violent and bloodstained path by which it has come in continental countries.
    • G. M. Trevelyan, British History in the Nineteenth Century (1782–1901) (1922), p. 69
  • The Napoleonic war (1803–15) that followed the brief interval of the Peace of Amiens, was for us a war waged in self-defence, to prevent the systematic subordination of Europe to a vigorous military despotism sworn to our destruction. A few months at the Foreign Office in 1806 and an attempt to treat with our adversary for peace, made this clear even to Fox, who had been till then singularly blind to the real character of Bonaparte. But the Whigs were only enthusiastic for the war by fits and starts. The honour of beating Napoleon fell as clearly to the Tories, as the honour of beating Louis XIV had fallen to the Whigs.
    • G. M. Trevelyan, British History in the Nineteenth Century (1782–1901) (1922), p. 108
  • The spirit of the new age in face of these new problems, formulated in theory by Bentham, was first manifested in Government action by the Liberal-Tories in Canning's day. But the monopoly of power had still been strictly preserved. To the Whigs between 1830 and 1835 belongs the credit of destroying the monopoly, reinterpreting the Constitution, and harnessing public opinion to the machine of government. Whatever some of the Whigs might say about the "finality" of their Bill, this new principle, when once admitted, could brook no limitation until complete democracy had been realised under old English forms. On the other hand the belief of the anti-Reform Tories that the Reform Bill would lead at once to the overthrow of Crown and Lords, Church and property, was the exact reverse of the truth. It was due to the Bill that England was not involved in the vicious circle of continental revolution and reaction, and that our political life kept its Anglo-Saxon moorings
    • G. M. Trevelyan, British History in the Nineteenth Century (1782–1901) (1922), p. 225
  • 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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