The Conservative Party is known as being a party of government, but its periods in opposition have been of crucial and sometimes greater importance. The Party makes radical changes to its attitudes, policies and organisation not during periods in office, but whilst recovering from the shock of defeat. The Conservative's uncomfortable spells in opposition have seen leadership crises, bitter factional strife and intense debate over the party's future direction - yet at the same time they have been the springboard for recovering power, and the foundation for the next spell of political dominance.
STUART BALL is Reader in History at the University of Leicester. His publications include 'Baldwin and the Conservative Party' (1988), 'The Conservative Party and British Politics 1902-1951'(1995), 'Winston Churchill' (2003), and (with Anthony Seldon) 'Conservative Century: The Conservative Party since 1900' (1994). ANTHONY SELDON is the Founding Director of the Institute of Contemporary British History and Headmaster of Brighton College, UK.