Political marketing: the Conservatives in opposition
thesisposted on 2009-11-23, 12:16 authored by Timothy Michael Sansom
This thesis examines the political marketing of the Conservative Party in three opposition periods: 1966 to 1970, under Edward Heath, 1975 to 1979 with Thatcher as leader, and 1997 to 2001 under William Hague. The temporal comparisons made in this research contrasts with the accounts that discuss marketing issues in the context of one particular government, opposition period, or election campaign. The thesis uses two marketing frameworks from Negrine and Lilleker and Brassington and Pettitt to test the hypothesis that the Conservatives were competent practitioners of proactive and innovative political marketing. The research questions consider the key issues that frustrated the Conservatives’ marketing development, whether the Conservatives were undertaking political marketing before the terminology became commonplace within academic literature, how important was the promotion of the personal ideological beliefs of senior Tory politicians to the Conservative marketing strategy, and why some Conservative marketing initiatives were unsuccessful? In contrast to the many accounts that focus on the market orientation of the Tories in power, this thesis provides a key contribution to the political marketing debate by specifically examining the marketing strategy of three Tory oppositions. The analysis highlights a series of complex issues that can be faced by an opposition party when devising and implementing a marketing strategy, including intra party divisions regarding the previous election defeat, proposals for new policies and ideology, and new marketing initiatives. The thesis also highlights how many innovative marketing techniques were implemented during the Heath opposition, which compromises the innovativeness of the market orientation during the Thatcher era, as well as demonstrating that the Tories were implementing marketing before the terminology was extensively used in academic discourse. The research additionally examines the unsuccessful Tory marketing initiatives, including the extensive amount of negative campaigning during the three periods, which further compromises a positive perspective of Tory marketing.