The Conservative Party's periods in opposition have been of crucial importance. The key to Conservative success has been the party's adaptability in defeat, and opposition has often been the springboard for recovering power and the foundation for the next spell of dominance. Periods in opposition have also seen leadership crises, bitter disunity and intense debate over future direction. Recovery was not inevitable: both at the start and the end of the 20th century, the Conservatives found themselves locked into long and frustrating periods of impotence. Despite their importance, the periods in opposition have been comparatively neglected. This study is the first to examine the topic as a whole. Each spell in opposition is assessed by a leading authority on the period, and presents fresh evidence and interpretations. The book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of both the Conservative Party and the nature of opposition in the modern British political system.

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