The Conservative Party Leadership Election of 2016: An Analysis of the Voting Motivations of Conservative Parliamentarians

in (2017) Parliamentary Affairs. (With T. Heppell, R. Hayton, and A. Crines)

The link to the final, published version of this article can be found here, and is open access.

This article provides the first systematic examination of the voting motivations of Conservative MPs in the final parliamentary ballot of the Conservative Party leadership election of 2016. We identify the voting behaviour of each Conservative parliamentarian as part of a unique data set that we use to test, through the use of multivariate analysis, a series of hypotheses based around social background variables (i.e. gender and education); political variables (i.e. parliamentary experience, electoral marginality, the electoral threat posed by UKIP and ministerial status); and ideological variables (i.e. attitudes towards same-sex marriage and Brexit).

Our findings demonstrate that ideology did matter in terms of voting – there were two major cleavages in this leadership election: positioning in the EU referendum and social liberalism/conservatism.

May’s support was drawn from those who backed Remain in the referendum, whilst Leadsom and Gove both drew support from Brexiteers; Leadsom from socially conservative members of the PCP, and Gove from the socially liberal wing.

Published by David Jeffery

I am a Lecturer in British Politics at the University of Liverpool. I hold a PhD from Queen Mary University of London, which focused on the causes of Conservative electoral decline in Liverpool, from 1945 onwards.

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