Conservative Party (UK)

The Conservative Party, officially the Conservative and Unionist Party, also known simply as the Conservatives and colloquially as the Tories, is one of two main political parties in the United Kingdom, alongside its primary rival since the 1930s, the Labour Party. The Conservative Party is the current governing party in the United Kingdom, having won the 2019 general election with an overall majority in the House of Commons. The party is on the centre-right of the political spectrum, and encompasses various ideological factions including one-nation conservatives, Thatcherites, liberal conservatives and conservative liberals. The party currently has 357 Members of Parliament, 257 appointed[12] members of the House of Lords, 9 members of the London Assembly, 31 members of the Scottish Parliament, 16 members of the Welsh Parliament, 4 directly elected mayors, 30 police and crime commissioners, and approximately 7,500 local authority councillors.[13] The party holds the annual Conservative Party Conference, at which party policies and prominent politicians can be showcased.[14]

Conservative and Unionist Party
LeaderLiz Truss
Lords LeaderThe Lord True
Chief Whips
ChairmanJake Berry
Chief ExecutiveMike Chattey (acting)[1]
Founded1834; 187 years ago (original form)
1912; 109 years ago (current form)
Merger of
Preceded byTories
HeadquartersConservative Campaign Headquarters
4 Matthew Parker Street, London SW1H 9HQ
Youth wingYoung Conservatives[2]
Women's wingConservative Women's Organisation
Overseas wingConservatives Abroad
LGBT wingLGBT+ Conservatives
Membership (2022)172,437[3]
Political positionCentre-right[9][10]
European affiliationEuropean Conservatives and Reformists Party
International affiliationInternational Democrat Union
Irish affiliation
Colours  Blue
Slogan"Build Back Better" (since 2020)[11]
Governing bodyConservative Party Board
Devolved or semi-autonomous branches
Parliamentary party1922 Committee
House of Commons
357 / 650
House of Lords
248 / 755
Scottish Parliament
31 / 129
16 / 60
Regional mayors[nb]
2 / 10
London Assembly
9 / 25
PCCs and PFCCs
30 / 39
LA mayors
2 / 16
6,777 / 19,171

^ Mayor of London and nine combined authority mayors.
^ Councillors of local authorities in England (including 25 aldermen of the City of London) and Scotland, principal councils in Wales and local councils in Northern Ireland.

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, both the Conservative and Labour parties have the greatest significance within the country and are the largest political parties within the United Kingdom, in terms of electoral representation as well as total number of registered members.

In 2010, the Conservatives came to power via a coalition agreement with the Liberal Democrats, ending 13 years of Labour government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown.[15][16] Following the 2015 general election, the Conservatives formed a government with a small 12-seat majority.[17] A snap general election in 2017 resulted in the Conservatives losing their majority and governing through a confidence and supply arrangement with the Democratic Unionist Party.[18][19] In the 2019 general election, the Conservatives won by a landslide with an 80 seat majority. However, a series of scandals led to a motion of no confidence in Boris Johnson and then the 2022 government crisis. The prime minister subsequently announced his resignation pending a leadership contest, but the government remains faced with record low poll numbers and calls for an early general election.[20][21][not verified in body]

The party has generally adopted liberal economic policies favouring free markets, including deregulation, privatisation, and marketisation, since the 1980s, although historically it advocated for protectionism. The party is British unionist, opposing a united Ireland, 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 the European Union (EU), with eurosceptic and, to an increasingly lesser extent, pro-European factions within it. It embraced a strongly eurosceptic position, with the slogan "Get Brexit Done", following the decision to leave the EU in a referendum held under the Conservative Cameron government. It historically took a socially conservative approach,[22][23] but its social policy has become more liberal, evidenced by the legalisation of same-sex marriage under the Conservative–Liberal Democrat Cameron-Clegg coalition in 2014, the lifting of the ban on women in combat roles in the military in 2016 under the Cameron government and the legalisation of medical cannabis in 2018 under the second May ministry. In defence policy, it favours a strong military capability including an independent nuclear weapons programme and commitment to NATO membership.

The party's voting and financial support base has historically consisted primarily of homeowners, business owners, real estate developers and middle class voters, especially in rural and suburban areas of England.[24][25][26][27] Since the EU referendum, the Conservatives have also targeted working class voters in small and medium sized urban areas which were traditionally Labour supporting.[28][29][30][31][32] The Conservatives' domination of British politics throughout the 20th century—having governed for 65 nonconsecutive years—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.[33][34][35] [better source needed]

The London, Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish 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.

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