Competing on the centre right: An examination of party strategy in Britain


Dr Philip Lynch

Dr Richard Whitaker

Dr Gemma Loomes

Working papers:

Project summary

Party competition on the centre right of British politics has intensified in the last decade, with New Labour occupying territory traditionally inhabited by the Conservative Party and the UK Independence Party (UKIP) emerging as a rival to the Conservatives on their right flank. Competition between the Conservatives and Labour has been examined in depth by political scientists, but that between the Conservatives and UKIP is under-researched.

This research project provided a detailed analysis of the ideology, policies and strategy of the Conservative Party and UKIP at the 2009 European Parliament and the next general election. The primary, but not sole, focus of research was the issue of European integration. The research assessed the relative importance of the various factors that shape party positions on Europe (e.g. ideology, electoral strategy, intra-party divisions, the party system etc.).

The project employed a range of research methods including candidate surveys, elite interviews, analysis of party manifestos and statements, and analysis of European Parliament roll-call voting data.

The research aims provide important insights on David Cameron’s modernisation project and the durability of UKIP. It also enhances academic understanding of four main areas:

  • party competition on the centre right in the UK – particularly the dynamics of competition between the Conservative Party and UKIP;
  • euroscepticism in the UK – notably the relationship between ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ variants of Euroscepticism, and Conservative Party policy and attitudes on Europe;
  • the role played by political parties in raising or lowering the salience of the issue of European integration;
  • the ideology, policies, electoral strategy and party system position of UKIP.

The research was funded by the Leverhulme Trust (grant reference: F/00 212/AD), an independent charity that supports academic research in the UK.

Further information:

Briefing papers and other materials

For further details please contact the researchers.


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Contact Details

Department of Politics and International Relations
University of Leicester
University Road
United Kingdom

Tel: +44 (0)116 252 2702