Leader of the Conservative Party (UK)

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Leader of the Conservative Party
Theresa May portrait.jpg
Incumbent
Theresa May

since 11 July 2016
Inaugural holderRobert Peel (de facto)
Bonar Law (de jure)
Formation1834 (de facto)
1922 (de jure)

The Leader of the Conservative Party in the United Kingdom is the most senior politician of the Conservative Party. To date, two of the leaders have been women: Margaret Thatcher and Theresa May. The post is currently held by May, who succeeded David Cameron on 11 July 2016.

Overall leaders of the Party (1834–1922)[edit]

Overall leader
(Birth–Death)
Portrait Country of birth Constituency / Title Took office Left office Prime Minister (term)
Sir Robert Peel
(1788–1850)
Robert Peel by RR Scanlan detail.jpg  England Tamworth 18 December 1834[a] 29 June 1846 himself 1834–35
Melbourne 1835–41
himself 1841–46
Edward Smith-Stanley
14th Earl of Derby from 1851
(1799–1869)
Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby-1865.jpg  England Baron Stanley
(1846–1851)
Earl of Derby
(1851–1868)
29 June 1846 27 February 1868 Russell 1846–52
himself 1852
Aberdeen 1852–55
Palmerston 1855–58
himself 1858–59
Palmerston 1859–65
Russell 1865–66
himself 1866–68
Benjamin Disraeli
1st Earl of Beaconsfield from 1876
(1804–1881)
Disraeli.jpg  England Buckinghamshire
(1868–1876)
Earl of Beaconsfield
(1876–1881)
27 February 1868 19 April 1881
(Died in office)
himself 1868
Gladstone 1868–74
himself 1874–80
Gladstone 1880–85
Vacant
Leader of the Lords – 3rd Marquess of Salisbury
Leader of the Commons – Stafford Northcote
19 April 1881 23 June 1885
Robert Gascoyne-Cecil
3rd Marquess of Salisbury
(1830–1903)
Robert cecil.jpg  England Marquess of Salisbury 23 June 1885 11 July 1902 himself 1885–86
Gladstone 1886
himself 1886–92
Gladstone 1892–94
Rosebery 1894–95
himself 1895–1902
Arthur Balfour
(1848–1930)
Arthur Balfour, photo portrait facing left.jpg  Scotland Manchester East
(1902–1906)
City of London
(1906–1911)
11 July 1902 13 November 1911 himself 1902–05
C.-Bannerman 1905–08
Asquith 1908–16
Vacant[disputed ]
Leader of the Lords – 5th Marquess of Lansdowne
Leader of the Commons – Bonar Law
13 November 1911 10 December 1916[b]
Lloyd George 1916–22
Bonar Law
(1858–1923)
Andrew Bonar Law 02.jpg  Canada Bootle
(1916–1918)
Glasgow Central
(1918–1921)
10 December 1916[b] 21 March 1921
Austen Chamberlain
(1863–1937)
Austen Chamberlain nobel.jpg  England Birmingham West 21 March 1921 23 October 1922

Leaders of the Party (1922–present)[edit]

Leader
(Birth–Death)
Portrait Country of birth Constituency / Title Took office Left office Prime Minister (term)
Bonar Law
(1858–1923)
Andrew Bonar Law 02.jpg  Canada Glasgow Central 23 October 1922
(Party meeting)
28 May 1923 himself
Stanley Baldwin
(1867–1947)
Stanley Baldwin ggbain.35233.jpg  England Bewdley 28 May 1923
(Party meeting)
31 May 1937 himself 1923–24
MacDonald 1924
himself 1924–29
MacDonald 1929–35
himself 1935–37
Neville Chamberlain
(1869–1940)
Neville chamberlain1921.jpg  England Birmingham Edgbaston 31 May 1937
(Party meeting)
9 October 1940 himself 1937–40
Churchill 1940–45
Winston Churchill
(1874–1965)
Winston Churchill cph.3a49758.jpg  England Epping
(1940–1945)
Woodford
(1945–1955)
9 October 1940
(Party meeting)
21 April 1955 himself 1940–45
Attlee 1945–51
himself 1951–55
Anthony Eden
(1897–1977)
Anthony Eden.jpg  England Warwick and Leamington 21 April 1955
(Party meeting)
22 January 1957 himself
Harold Macmillan
(1894–1986)
Harold Macmillan in 1942.jpg  England Bromley 22 January 1957
(Party meeting)
11 November 1963
Alec Douglas-Home
(1903–1995)
Alec Douglas-Home (c1963).jpg  England Earl of Home
(1963)
Kinross and Western Perthshire
(1963–1965)
11 November 1963
(Party meeting)
27 July 1965 himself 1963–64
Wilson 1964–70
Edward Heath
(1916–2005)
Edward Heath  England Bexley
(1965–1974)
Sidcup
(1974–1975)
27 July 1965
(Elected)
11 February 1975
himself 1970–74
Wilson 1974–76
Margaret Thatcher
(1925–2013)
Dodthatcher.JPG  England Finchley 11 February 1975
(Elected)
28 November 1990
Callaghan 1976–79
herself 1979–90
John Major
(1943–)
John Major 1996.jpg  England Huntingdon 28 November 1990
(Opponents withdrew)
22 June 1995 himself 1990–97
Vacant
Prime Minister – John Major
22 June 1995 4 July 1995 Major 1990–97
John Major
(1943–)
John Major 1996.jpg  England Huntingdon 4 July 1995
(Re-elected)
19 June 1997
himself 1990–97
Blair 1997–2007
William Hague
(1961–)
William Hague, Foreign Sec (crop).jpg  England Richmond (Yorks) 19 June 1997
(Elected)
13 September 2001
Iain Duncan Smith
(1954–)
Iain Duncan Smith Nightingale 1 (cropped).JPG  Scotland Chingford and Woodford Green 13 September 2001
(Elected)
6 November 2003
Michael Howard
(1941–)
Flickr - europeanpeoplesparty - EPP Summit 16 June 2005 (1) (cropped).jpg  Wales Folkestone and Hythe 6 November 2003
(Unopposed)
6 December 2005
David Cameron
(1966–)
David Cameron portrait (cropped).jpg  England Witney 6 December 2005
(Elected)
11 July 2016
Brown 2007–10
himself 2010–16
Theresa May
(1956–)
Theresa May Official.jpg  England Maidenhead 11 July 2016
(Opponents withdrew)
Incumbent herself

Living former party leaders[edit]

There are five living former party leaders. From oldest to youngest:

Leader Term of office Date of birth
The Lord Howard of Lympne 2003–2005 (1941-07-07) 7 July 1941 (age 77)
Sir John Major 1990–1995 (1943-03-29) 29 March 1943 (age 75)
1995–1997
Iain Duncan Smith MP 2001–2003 (1954-04-09) 9 April 1954 (age 64)
The Lord Hague of Richmond 1997–2001 (1961-03-26) 26 March 1961 (age 57)
David Cameron 2005–2016 (1966-10-09) 9 October 1966 (age 52)

House of Lords and Commons leaders[edit]

Leaders in the House of Lords (1834–present)[edit]

Those asterisked were considered the overall leader of the party.

Leaders in the House of Commons (1834–1922)[edit]

Those asterisked were considered the overall leader of the party.

Elections of Conservative leaders by party meeting[edit]

House of Commons[edit]

# Date of meeting Name of leader elected Category attending meeting Location of meeting Chair Proposer Seconder Refs
1 9 February 1848 The Marquess of Granby Protectionist commoners Residence of George Bankes N/A N/A N/A [3]
[4]
2 1 February 1849 Benjamin Disraeli N/A Residence of the Lord Stanley of Bickerstaffe N/A N/A N/A [5]
The Marquess of Granby
John Charles Herries
3 13 November 1911 Bonar Law Unionist Members of Parliament Carlton Club, Pall Mall Henry Chaplin, senior Privy Councillor on the Unionist benches (appointed 1885) Walter Long Austen Chamberlain [6]
4 21 March 1921 Austen Chamberlain Unionist Members of Parliament Carlton Club, Pall Mall Lord Edmund Talbot, Conservative Chief Whip Captain Ernest George Pretyman Sir Edward Coates: "a back bencher and one of the rank and file" [7]
5 23 October 1922 Bonar Law Unionist peers, MPs, and candidates Hotel Cecil, The Strand The Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, Leader of the House of Lords The Marquess Curzon of Kedleston Stanley Baldwin: "chosen ... to be the spokesman for the House of Commons" [8]
6 28 May 1923 Stanley Baldwin "Conservative Party" Hotel Cecil, The Strand The Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, Leader of the House of Lords The Earl of Derby Captain Ernest George Pretyman: "a member of the House of Commons who [had] been a colleague in that House of Mr Bonar Law for something over 25 years" [9]
7 31 May 1937 Neville Chamberlain "peers and MPs who receive the Conservative whip, ... prospective candidates who have been adopted by constituency associations, and ... members of the executive committee of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist associations from England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland." Caxton Hall, Caxton Street The Viscount Halifax, Leader of the House of Lords The Earl of Derby Winston Churchill (Privy Councillor since 1907) [10]
8 9 October 1940 Winston Churchill "Peers and MPs who receive the Conservative whip, ... prospective candidates who have been adopted by constituency associations, and ... members of the Executive Committee of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations from England and Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland." London The Viscount Halifax, Leader of the House of Lords The Viscount Halifax Sir George Courthope: "one of the senior back benchers of the party" [11]
9 21 April 1955 Sir Anthony Eden "Conservative and National Liberal members of the two Houses of Parliament, Conservative and National Liberal parliamentary candidates and members of the executive committee of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations" Church House, Dean's Yard, Westminster The Marquess of Salisbury, Leader of the House of Lords The Marquess of Salisbury Rab Butler (Privy Councillor since 1939) [12]
10 22 January 1957 Harold Macmillan "Conservative and Unionist members of the House of Lords and the House of Commons, ... prospective parliamentary candidates and ... members of the executive committee of the National Union of Conservative and Unionist Associations. National Liberal members of both Houses of Parliament and adopted prospective candidates were also present" N/A The Marquess of Salisbury, Leader of the House of Lords The Marquess of Salisbury Rab Butler (Privy Councillor since 1939) [13]
11 11 November 1963 Sir Alec Douglas-Home "members of both Houses of Parliament taking the Conservative whip, prospective candidates who [had] been adopted by constituency associations, members of the executive of the mass party, and National Liberal MPs and adopted prospective candidates" Church House, Dean's Yard, Westminster The Lord Carrington, Leader of the House of Lords The Lord Carrington Geoffrey Lloyd: "the senior Conservative Privy Councillor in the Commons next in line to Sir Winston Churchill" (appointed 1943) [14]

House of Lords[edit]

# Date of meeting Name of leader elected Category attending meeting Location of meeting Chair Proposer Seconder Notes
1 9 March 1846 The Lord Stanley of Bickerstaffe Peers Residence of the Duke of Richmond The Earl of Eglinton N/A N/A [15]
2 15 February 1869 The Earl Cairns 23 peers N/A The Earl of Malmesbury The Earl of Malmesbury N/A [16]
3 26 February 1870 The Duke of Richmond Peers Carlton Club N/A The Marquess of Salisbury The Earl of Derby [17]
4 9 May 1881 The Marquess of Salisbury Conservative members of the House of Lords Residence of the Marquess of Abergavenny The Marquess of Abergavenny The Duke of Richmond The Earl Cairns [18]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b Date of the Tamworth Manifesto.
  2. ^ a b Date on which Law became Leader of the House of Commons.
  3. ^ Granby resigned "either in the end of December [1851] or on one of the first days of January [1852]".[2]
  4. ^ Date on which Balfour failed to be elected in Manchester East.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Times, 17 June 1931
  2. ^ Monypenny, William Flavelle; Buckle, George Earle (1914). The life of Benjamin Disraeli, earl of Beaconsfield, Volume III. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. 312–3.
  3. ^ "A Cabinet Council was held at half-past 2 o'clock." Times [London, England] 10 Feb. 1848: 4. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 25 July 2014.
  4. ^ Malmesbury, The Right Hon. [James Howard Harris,] the [3rd] Earl of (1885). Memoirs of an Ex-Minister. London: Longmans, Green, and Co. pp. 151–2.
  5. ^ Monypenny, William Flavelle; Buckle, George Earle (1914). The life of Benjamin Disraeli, earl of Beaconsfield, Volume III. New York: The Macmillan Company. pp. 138–9.
  6. ^ "The Unionist Leadership." Times [London, England] 14 Nov. 1911: 9. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 19 July 2014.
  7. ^ "Unionist M.P.s' New Leader." Times [London, England] 22 Mar. 1921: 12. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 19 July 2014.
  8. ^ "Unionists Elect Mr. Bonar Law." Times [London, England] 24 Oct. 1922: 18. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 25 July 2014.
  9. ^ "Conservative Leader." Times [London, England] 29 May 1923: 19. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 19 July 2014.
  10. ^ "The New Leader And The Old." Times [London, England] 1 June 1937: 17+. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 19 July 2014.
  11. ^ "Conservative Leader." Times [London, England] 10 Oct. 1940: 2. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 19 July 2014.
  12. ^ Our Political Correspondent. "Sir A. Eden as Leader." Times [London, England] 22 Apr. 1955: 12. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 19 July 2014.
  13. ^ "Mr. Macmillan states Party philosophy", The Times, London, 23 January 1957
  14. ^ Our Political Correspondent. (12 November 1963), "Prime Minister is Ageless", The Times, London, p. 12
  15. ^ Malmesbury, The Right Hon. [James Howard Harris,] the [3rd] Earl of (1885). Memoirs of an Ex-Minister. London: Longmans, Green, and Co. p. 124.
  16. ^ Malmesbury, The Right Hon. [James Howard Harris,] the [3rd] Earl of (1885). Memoirs of an Ex-Minister. London: Longmans, Green, and Co. p. 645.
  17. ^ "We are enabled to state that, in compliance with." Times [London, England] 28 Feb. 1870: 9. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 26 July 2014.
  18. ^ "Meeting Of The Conservative Peers." Times [London, England] 10 May 1881: 10. The Times Digital Archive. Web. 25 July 2014.