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Inside the Conservative party’s radical right

At two recent conferences, the Tories’ faded past and dark future were on display.

By Will Lloyd

May 2023 saw two significant gatherings of the Tory right: the Conservative Democratic Organisation (CDO) in Bournemouth, and the National Conservative Conference in London. The latter was organised by the US-based think tank the Edmund Burke Foundation, and drew heavily on its ideas about family, faith and the failures of globalism and liberal individualism. The former was emphatically not a ‘Bring Back Boris’ convention (the ex-prime minister did not attend), though it numbered several of his political cheerleaders and delegates nostalgic for the boosterism of the Johnson years.

In this week’s long read, the New Statesman’s commissioning editor and writer Will Lloyd attends both conferences, and explores the origins of their discontent. Is he witnessing “the final crack-up of British conservatism, or the birth of a new, harder-edged ideological programme that will dominate the party for years to come”? Will American populism shape the next generation of Tories? Through conversations with ministers, delegates, journalists and assorted hangers-on, Lloyd pieces together a darkly entertaining portrait of the Conservative right.

Written and read by Will Lloyd.

This article originally appeared in the 26 May-2 June edition of the New Statesman. You can read the text version here.

If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy listening to The strange death of moderate conservatism by Jeremy Cliffe.

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