Conservative Party (UK)

The Conservative Party, officially the Conservative and Unionist Party, and also known colloquially as the Tories, Tory Party, or simply the Conservatives, is a political party in the United Kingdom. Ideologically, the Conservatives sit on the centre-right of the political spectrum. The Conservatives formed a fixed term coalition government with the Liberal Democrats[13][14] from 2010–15. Following the 2015 election, the Conservatives formed a Government with a 12-seat majority.[15] A snap general election in 2017 meant they held power without an overall majority[16][17] until 2019, when they regained an overall majority in the House of Commons, with 364 Members of Parliament. The party also has 258 appointed[18] members of the House of Lords, 9 members of the London Assembly, 31 members of the Scottish Parliament, 16 members of the Senedd (Welsh Parliament) and 7,445 local authority councillors.[12]

Conservative and Unionist Party
LeaderBoris Johnson
Lords LeaderThe Baroness Evans of Bowes Park
Chief Whips
Chairman
Chief ExecutiveMike Chattey (acting)[2]
FoundedDecember 1834 (186 years ago) (1834-12)
Merger of
HeadquartersConservative Campaign Headquarters
4 Matthew Parker Street, London SW1H 9HQ
Youth wingYoung Conservatives[3]
Women's wingConservative Women's Organisation
Overseas wingConservatives Abroad
LGBT wingLGBT+ Conservatives
Membership (2021) 200,000[4]
Ideology
Political positionCentre-right[8][9]
European affiliationEuropean Conservatives and Reformists Party
International affiliationInternational Democrat Union
Affiliate parties
Colours  Blue
SloganUnleash Britain's Potential (2020)[10]
Governing bodyConservative Party Board
Devolved or semi-autonomous branches
Parliamentary party1922 Committee
House of Commons
363 / 650
House of Lords[11]
262 / 788
London Assembly
9 / 25
Scottish Parliament
31 / 129
Senedd
16 / 60
Local government[12]
7,540 / 19,481
Directly elected mayors
3 / 25
Police and crime commissioners
29 / 40
Website
www.conservatives.com

The Conservative Party was founded in 1834 from the Tory Party and was one of two dominant political parties in the 19th century, along with the Liberal Party. Under Benjamin Disraeli, it played a preeminent role in politics at the height of the British Empire. In 1912, the Liberal Unionist Party merged with the party to form the Conservative and Unionist Party. Following this, the Labour Party became the Conservatives' main rival. To this day, the Labour and Conservative parties constitute the two most significant parties in the UK.

Positioned on the centre-right of the British political spectrum, the Conservative Party is ideologically conservative. Various factions have dominated the party at different times, including one nation conservatives, Thatcherites, liberal conservatives and conservative liberals. Furthermore, there are influential factions of social conservatives and eurosceptics. While its views and policies have changed throughout its history, the party has generally adopted liberal economic policies favouring free market economics including measures such as deregulation, privatisation, and marketisation since the 1980s, although the party also historically advocated for protectionism. The party is British unionist, opposing Irish reunification, Scottish and Welsh independence, and has been critical of devolution. Historically, the party supported the continuance and maintenance of the British Empire. The party has taken various approaches towards policy on the European Union (EU). There are eurosceptic and, to an increasingly lesser extent, pro-European factions of the party. In recent years, the party has embraced a strongly eurosceptic position, with the party adopting the slogan "Get Brexit Done" following the decision to leave the EU in a referendum held under the Conservative Cameron government. On social policy, it has historically taken a more socially conservative approach including implementing Section 28[19] and generally maintaining Sunday blue laws.[20] However, some argue that its social policy has become more liberal in recent decades, perhaps evidenced best by the legalisation of same-sex marriage by the Conservative–Liberal Democrat coalition government in 2014. In defence policy, it favours a strong military capability including an independent nuclear weapons programme and commitment to NATO membership.

The party's support base has historically consisted primarily of middle class voters, especially in rural and suburban areas of England. Since the EU referendum, the Conservatives have also shifted to targeting working class voters in traditionally Labour supporting areas.[21][22] Its domination of British politics throughout the 20th century and its re-emergence in the 2010s has led to it being referred to as one of the most successful political parties in the Western world.[23][24][25]

The Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish, and Gibraltarian branches of the party are semi-autonomous. The Conservatives are a founding member party of both the International Democrat Union and the European Conservatives and Reformists Party.