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One year ago, after over a decade out of power, Britain’s Conservative Party formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrat Party. Since then, it has taken controversial but necessary steps to bring Britain’s finances under control, to reform higher education, and to restore order to immigration. The Conservative Party also fought and won the recent referendum against the Alternative Vote, which would have overturned Britain’s traditional Parliamentary order. In the local council elections held alongside that referendum, the Party achieved another victory, winning more seats and building on its established dominance of local government.
In so doing, the British people showed that they recognize that the Conservative-led coalition has the answers that the opposition lacks. But they also demonstrated that there is no progressive political consensus in Britain: while the Conservatives celebrated gains, the Liberal Democrats mourned losses. In light of this victory, and the successful first year of the government, it is time to look at the lessons that Conservatives in Britain have to offer, and at the prospects for conservatism in Britain beyond the coalition.
Conor Burns was born in Belfast in 1972. He did a degree in Modern History and Politics at Southampton University at which time he served on the National Committee of the Conservative Students. In 1999 he was elected onto Southampton City Council, and in the 2010 General Election he was elected Member of Parliament for Bournemouth West. He is a Parliamentary Private Secretary in the Northern Ireland Office, has served for many years on the Executive Board of Conservative Way Forward, a group set up to promote the values and legacy of Margaret Thatcher, and is a close friend of Lady Thatcher.
More About the Speakers
Conor Burns, MP
Conservative Party, United Kingdom
Theodore R. Bromund, Ph.D.
Senior Research Fellow in Anglo-American Relations