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Conservatism under scrutiny: Southampton academic examines the state of the party in the 21st century

Published: 
8 March 2005

A new book by an academic at the University of Southampton may be required reading for all political parties in the forthcoming election campaign.

Dr Kieron O'Hara, a computer scientist at the University's School of Electronics & Computer Science (ECS) has taken his expertise in knowledge management for organisations and looked at how it might apply to a government or a country, and, indeed, a political party such as the Conservative Party.

In After Blair: Conservatism Beyond Thatcher, published by Icon Books, he embarks on a quest for an ideological answer to what he perceives to be the Conservatives' current difficulties, looking to philosophy and history as well as knowledge management for the key.

He comments: "We have seen in organisations, for example in the NHS, how a lack of information can lead to poorly conceived decisions with unanticipated effects. I wondered if the same was true in the wider world. Perhaps our lack of understanding of complex, dynamic societies should lead to careful conservatism with a small "c"."

He explores the extent to which the current party is still influenced by Thatcherite principles and how such allegiances may block inclinations towards change. He concludes: "Most of the senior figures in the Conservative party reached political maturity under Thatcher. I am saying that they need to go beyond Thatcher and create a post-Thatcher, post-Blair Tory party."

After Blair: Conservatism Beyond Thatcher is Dr O'Hara's third book. His previous titles: Plato and the Internet and Trust: From Socrates to Spin, also focused on knowledge and society, and were published by Icon Books.

Notes for editors

  1. Dr Kieron O'Hara is a senior research fellow in the Intelligence, Agents and Multimedia Group in the School of Electronics and Computer Science. As well as over 50 academic articles and many pieces of journalism, he co-wrote the script of the computer game Tomb Raider 4.
  2. The University of Southampton is a leading UK teaching and research institution with a global reputation for leading-edge research and scholarship. The University has over 20,000 students and over 5,000 staff. Its annual turnover is in the region of £270 million.

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