Swot Analysis of the Conservative Party – Politics Assignment

Question

Choose one of the current British political parties. You have been charged with devising its election strategy. Discuss the party’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as they might apply in a potential future general election campaign.

 

Answer

Party chosen: The conservative party

 

Swot Analysis of the Conservative Party

Background

The Conservative Party is among the most important parties in Britain primarily because of its longevity and history. The origin of the party can be traced to the 19th Century, which implies that it has been part of the country’s long and rich history. Among the major attainments of the Conservative Party is the production of the first female Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, in 1979. It’s (The Party’s) main ideology centres on conservatism.

Nonetheless, the party has varied groups of conservatism that have dominated it at different times; these factions are inclusive of Thatcherites, One Nation Conservatives, and liberal conservatives. Currently, the party is led by Theresa May, the current Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Also of concern is that the Conservative Party has been governing the country since 2010 (Bale, 2017: 87).

With another election nearing, this paper will devise an election strategy for the Conservative Party. This strategy will be based on the analysis of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the party given that they will be essential in the upcoming general election campaign.

Strengths of the Conservative Party

Because of its conservatism philosophy, the public trust the Conservative Party with the preservation of law and order. By rooting for the party, the people are assured that the core values of British society are well-preserved. Apart from the advocacy towards personal responsibility, the party is entrusted with the promotion of family values, which the country has been founded on. In addition, the fact that the Conservative Party is somewhat divided makes it stronger; the division is a sign of diversity.

As mentioned in the background section, the party is usually dominated by various groups at different times in history. These factions comprise Thatcherites, One Nation Conservatives, and liberal conservatives (Heywood, 2015: 101). The existence of these groups implies that the party’s political position is centre-right as it keeps shifting depending on the prevailing circumstances.

One Nation Conservatives entail political conservatism based on paternalism, which involves the advocacy towards the maintenance (preservation) of traditional beliefs and established institutions with political democracy. The group also campaigns for an economic and social initiative aimed towards the gain of ordinary man. One Nation Conservatives, thus, perceive the nation the social fabric as an organic entity and attaches more value to pragmatism and paternalism.

On the other hand, Thatcherites embody the political, economic, and social dimensions of Margaret Thatcher, a great British Conservative Party politician who led the party between 1975 and 1990. The Thatcherite philosophy is based on a methodical, firm rejection, and the turnaround of post-war consensus.  Thatcherites espouse the principles of free markets, characterised with limited government spending and tax reductions; the group also emphasises the essence of British nationalism, locally and internationally (Ziblatt, 2017: 132).

Notably, the Thatcherites convinced the non-Conservative, Tony Blair’s government to embrace key policies such as the maintenance of a flexible labour market, trade unions’ marginalisation, the centralisation of power from local entities to central government, as well as deregulation.

Meanwhile, liberal conservatism is characterised by the combination of conservative principles with liberal perspectives, more so on issues of ethics, economics, and sociology. Liberal conservatism can also be perceived as a form of political conservatism that centres on liberalism.

According to liberal conservatism, there should be minimal government intervention in economic matters to enhance the free participation of individuals (Green & Jennings, 2017: 231). From the three groups of the Conservative Party, it is apparent that the historical division of the party is its strength because it offers diversity, which allows the party to adjust to varied situations.

The Conservative Party also has a history of surviving calamitous situations throughout its existence. Apart from the long time in which the party has been involved in the country’s government, it has experienced periods of marginalisation that threatened to render it irrelevant. Currently, it experiences a bit of both positive and negative situations, especially because of the Brexit issue. The ability of the party to bounce back from undesirable situations provides optimism that it will always find a way to overcome various adversities.

Another strength of the Conservative Party lies within its leadership. Its current leader, Theresa May, has been praised for her resilience in the face of all the pressure associated with Brexit; May has amazingly managed to maintain an unimaginable level of calmness (Hobolt, 2018: 43). Her endurance is not only good for her but also the Conservative Party. Any significant weaknesses by leaders of an entity could easily lead to anarchy.

The Conservative Party is also perceived by the general public as a better manager of the economy as compared to other parties such as Labour. In 2016, for instance, the Conservative Party undertook reforms that prompted the reversal of the New Labour laissez-faire perspective to one characterised by regulation in banking.

The party has also proved to be principled in its policy formulation; unlike other parties, the Conservative Party does not hold political correctness and tokenism in high esteem (Eggers & Spirling, 2017: 905). This risk-taking ability fosters its stability since it tends to have definite and specific directions on virtually every issue.

The party is also more pragmatic than abstract. As other parties claim to advocate for equality in all aspects, the Conservative Party acts practically that makes it more efficient. In the history of Britain, the party has produced the country’s only female prime ministers, namely Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. Other parties have failed to attain such feats despite claiming to be more liberal than the Conservative Party.

The party has also delivered equal or fair marriage entitlements for homosexual couples (Tomaney, 2016: 548). Interestingly, the Labour Party, which is viewed as more open-minded, failed to attain this feat in 13 years, when it runs the government with Tony Blair as the prime minister.

Weaknesses of the Conservative Party

The presence of different factions in the Conservative Party can lead to a serious division that could weaken the party. Disunity in the party, at the moment, is responsible for the deal between Theresa May and the Northern Irish MPs; this pact emanated from the fact that May’s party did not have a working majority in the House of Commons. To remain in power, thus, Theresa had to solicit support from ten Northern Irish MPs of the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP).

Even though the wrangles in the party are hidden to the whole, the annual conference of the Conservative Party, scheduled to happen in Birmingham on 30 September 2019 is likely to expose the splits that could further weaken the party (Manners, 2018: 1215).  If the loopholes are not fixed in time, other parties are likely to prevail over this (ruling) party in the upcoming general elections in 2022.

The Conservative Party has a poor record in relation to civil rights. For example, the public expenditure on welfare has experienced reductions through the leadership of the party under both David Cameron and Theresa May. The efficiency of the National Health Service (NHS) is also threatened by the atrocious policies of the party; the emphasis on privatisation by the Conservative Party will probably curtail the programme since a significant number of healthcare settings will end up being under individuals and not the government.

While cutting down funding to essential public services, the Conservative Party’s administration handed tax-related incentives to giant multinational corporations and the wealthiest members of the British society. This move portrays the Conservative Party as an elitist entity that only cares about the upper class considering that elites can evade taxation through the provision. The policy spells a bleak future to small enterprises, owned by members of the lower class of the society.

Another policy by the party that has affected the people involves significant reductions to the spare room subsidy; this policy has played a contributed to housing problems in the country. The Conservative government has also cut funding directed at facilitating early years’ services of children by about 50% since 2010; this policy has widened divisions at the expense of promoting social mobility given that it enhances childhood deprivation.

Because of ever-increasing reductions on child empowerment funds, the while social mobility team resigned in December 2017 (Anstead, 2017: 301). In common, the policies associated with cost reduction are bound to increase poverty at the expense of economic development in the country.

Leadership is another current weakness of the Conservative Party. Despite the overwhelming calmness that Theresa May demonstrates, the pressures, especially that associating from the Brexit issue threatens to cripple the party’s stability. It is worth to note that May has to deal with opposition from both internal and external sources. Internally, May has faced intense criticism from members of her party regarding her hard-line stance of Brexit while external tensions emanate from other parties and some sections of the public regarding the management of Brexit (Hunt & Wheeler, 2017: 25).

At the party level, May’s position is unstable as demonstrated by her inability to attain a working majority in the House of Commons from the party; some members of the Conservative Party are eagerly anticipating the failure of Theresa May, which clearly indicates that her authority as the party’s leader has diminished considerably.

Opportunities for the Conservative Party

In spite of the weaknesses of the party, there is still ample time to correct the mistakes. Core issues involving the reduction of funding directed at salient issues such as social mobility and healthcare access can be reviewed in the legislature via coordinating effectively with other like-minded parties. Besides, the party could attain redemption in the event that Brexit improves the socio-economic and political development of the UK.

Regarding leadership wrangles, the party should utilise the upcoming annual conference in Birmingham to settle differences emanating from the varying ideologies of its factions (March, 2017: 290). The party could also benefit from the resignation of Theresa May as its leader; this move would rejuvenate the party, giving it an opportunity to reinvent itself under new leadership, which will ultimately help to come up with an amicable solution to its serious issues.

The party-based and public perception of Theresa May point towards her increasing unpopularity, which signals that going to the next general elections with her at the helm could prove disastrous to the party’s performance.

Threats

The current impasse surrounding the Brexit issue remains the biggest threat to the party’s unity. Some people have expressed pessimism regarding the fortunes of the process, arguing that it would leave the UK poorer than now. Others also advocate for a smoother exit as opposed to a radical one. The handling of the entire process will determine the party’s performance in the next general elections.

The other threat originates from the stability of the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. During the leadership of Corbyn, the Labour Party has been hailed for being an embodiment of mature politics. The Labour Party has also demonstrated an unwavering commitment towards the NHS, which means that it embraces an overly concerned and dignified attitude towards sick people and persons with disability (Watts & Bale, 2019: 104). Being the primary or one of its major competitors, the current stability and popularity of the Labour is likely to curtail the performance of the Conservative Party in the next general elections.

Apart from being a weakness, the Conservative Party’s human rights’ record threatens its future performance. Because it has been portrayed as oblivious the suffering of the majority, some persons are unlikely to vote for its candidates. This situation calls for a need for urgent change in the status quo through legislative reviews.

Conclusion

The paper has effectively discussed the strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats of the UK’s, Conservative Party. Some strengths of the party that have been highlighted include its ability to bounce back from troubling situations, leadership, and its belief in affirmative action that has produced the only female prime ministers in British history. Its weaknesses centre on its civil rights record and the position of May that is under threat because of the pressure associated with Brexit.

The opportunities for the party entail the availability of more time to solve the party’s issues and rebrand in preparation of the next elections as well as the resignation of Theresa May, who has lost her authority as the party’s leader. Meanwhile, the threats facing the party are the stability being experienced by the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn and the refusal of Theresa May to quit her leadership role.

 

References

  1. Anstead, N., 2017. Data-driven campaigning in the 2015 United Kingdom general election. The International Journal of Press/Politics22(3), pp.294-313.
  2. Bale, T., 2017. The Conservative Party: From Thatcher to Cameron. John Wiley & Sons.
  3. Eggers, A.C. and Spirling, A., 2017. Incumbency effects and the strength of party preferences: Evidence from multiparty elections in the United Kingdom. The Journal of Politics79(3), pp.903-920.
  4. Green, J. and Jennings, W., 2017. The politics of competence: Parties, public opinion and voters. Cambridge University Press.
  5. Heywood, A., 2015. Essentials of UK politics. Macmillan International Higher Education.
  6. Hobolt, S.B., 2018. Brexit and the 2017 UK general election. JCMS: Journal of Common Market Studies56, pp.39-50.
  7. Hunt, A. and Wheeler, B., 2017. Brexit: All you need to know about the UK leaving the EU. BBC News25.
  8. Manners, I., 2018. Political psychology of European integration: The (re) production of identity and difference in the Brexit debate. Political Psychology39(6), pp.1213-1232.
  9. March, L., 2017. Left and right populism compared: The British case. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations19(2), pp.282-303.
  10. Tomaney, J., 2016. Limits of devolution: Localism, economics and post‐democracy. The Political Quarterly87(4), pp.546-552.
  11. Watts, J. and Bale, T., 2019. Populism as an intra-party phenomenon: The British Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn. The British Journal of Politics and International Relations21(1), pp.99-115.
  12. Ziblatt, D., 2017. Conservative Political Parties and the Birth of Modern Democracy in Europe. Cambridge University Press.

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