Conservatism is one of the oldest and most influential philosophical positions in the world. In the UK, the Conservative Party is the most successful but probably the least studied major party in British politics. Similarly, conservative political thought and the ideology of the centre-right has been somewhat neglected relative to the left of the political spectrum. The PSA specialist group for the study of Conservative politics and conservatism (C&C) was set up in late-2008 by Professor Tim Bale (the first convenor) as a much-needed step towards addressing these deficiencies. This was a timely decision as conservatism and the Conservative Party were seeking to renew themselves in anticipation of a return to government at the national level, leading to heightened scholarly and public interest in the subject. The result of the 2010 general election ensured the continuing centrality of this field of academic enquiry to the study of British politics and public policy.
C&C aims to encourage the creation and dissemination of high quality research on all aspects of conservatism (theoretical and empirical) through a web presence and by specialist conferences and workshops. It hopes to bring together and create a stronger sense of identity and common purpose among those political theorists, political scientists and historians who currently study the ideas and practices of conservatism and encourage those who may want to do so in the future. The scope of the group is wide and inclusive as regards both methodology and subject matter. We also encourage a comparative as well as a British dimension. The group does not endorse or promote any particular viewpoint, but encourages rigorous academic study from scholars across the ideological spectrum.
The Group Constitution
The group shall be called the UK Political Studies Association Conservatives and Conservatism Specialist Group
The objectives of the group are:
- to encourage a comparative as well as a British dimension to the study of conservatives and conservatism.
- to encourage the creation and dissemination of high quality research on all aspects of conservatism (theoretical and empirical) through a web presence and by specialist conferences and workshops.
- to bring together and create a stronger sense of identity and common purpose among those political theorists, political scientists and historians who currently study the ideas and practices of conservatism and encourage those who may want to do so in the future.
Membership shall be open to all members of the UK Political Studies Association and others with an active research and/or teaching interest in conservative politics.
The group shall have two officers, a convenor and a publicity officer. Both will hold office for three years and shall be elected by a vote among the members of the group, conducted either at the group's AGM or by electronic means (for example via e-mail). Both officers must be current members of the PSA. The convenor and publicity officer shall both be eligible for re-election. Sharing the post of convenor between two people shall be permitted.
Records shall be kept by the convenor and made available for inspection by any member of the group if so required. These records will include minutes of any meetings and the annual report. Current membership lists shall be maintained.
Vacation of office
The convenor shall vacate his or her office upon resignation or upon dismissal by resolution of a general meeting of the group.
Either type of meeting can be held, at the discretion of the convenor, using telephony or other electronic media instead of an actual gathering. The annual general meeting shall be held during the PSA annual conference each year or at another time, at the decision of the convenor. No fewer than 14 clear days notice of an annual general meeting shall be given. Other general meetings shall be called at the discretion of the convenor or at the written request of no fewer than six members of the group. Notice of no fewer than three clear days, excluding weekends and bank holidays, shall be given.
On vacating office, the convenor of the group shall hand over the books of account to his or her duly elected successor. Applications by the group to the PSA for grants of money shall be made at the discretion of the convenor. The convenor may decide to make available sums of money to facilitate the presence of speakers at the PSA annual conference or other appropriate academic conferences. In that case, a decision on the amount to be made available will be decided no later than two months prior to the conference and bids for funding will be invited from the group's membership. Once all bids have been received, the convenor will decide how to allocate the money. Only PSA members are eligible to receive funding from the group for any activity. The group will award a prize or prizes totalling £100 for the best publication on Conservatives and Conservatism the previous academic year. The prize will be judged by the convenor in consultation with the previous years' winner and at least one other member of the group co-opted for that purpose. None of the judging panel will be eligible for a prize that year.
The group shall be governed by the appropriate clauses of the PSA constitution with regard to any matter not covered by this constitution.
Amendment of the constitution
This constitution may be amended or altered only by a resolution supported by two-thirds of the members present and voting at a general meeting, provided that no alteration shall contravene any part of the PSA's Constitution. This constitution shall be made available to all members of the group on request.