The Conservative Nation since 1974

Richard Vinen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Andrew Gamble's The Conservative Nation, published in 1974, is interesting when read in the light of more recent events. Though the pre-Thatcher Conservative Party is often depicted as ‘unideological’, Gamble reminds us that it was often a centre of intense intellectual ferment before 1975. Four men—Harold Macmillan, Rab Butler, Iain Macleod and Enoch Powell were particularly important to debates in the party. Of all these, Powell, seemed to cast the longest shadow in 1974, but he never had the influence that some hoped, or feared, that he would. The reasons why he failed illustrate his own idiosyncrasies, but also the difficulties of what Gamble labelled ‘the politics of support’. Seen in the light of Gamble's early work, Thatcherism can be seen as something that built on existing strata of conservatism and the changes brought by Thatcher were, in many ways, less dramatic than those that have transformed the party since 2016.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)396-403
Number of pages8
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2021


  • Andrew Gamble
  • Conservative Party
  • Enoch Powell
  • Iain Macleod
  • Margaret Thatcher


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