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Training minds for the war of ideasAshridge College, the Conservative Party and the cultural politics of Britain, 1929-54$
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Clarisse Berthezène

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780719086496

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719086496.001.0001

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Ashridge and the student community

Ashridge and the student community

(p.79) 4 Ashridge and the student community
Training minds for the war of ideas

Clarisse Berthezène

Manchester University Press

The audience the Conservatives sought to reach with their ideas was made up of two social groups in particular. On the one hand there were the aspirational urban and suburban middle classes, i.e. the social constituency from which many of the Conservative political education activists were themselves drawn. But another target was the ‘wage-earning class’ – the largest social constituency in the electorate, and who Conservatives saw as the group most vulnerable to Socialist propaganda. This helps to explain the structure of many of the arguments deployed in relation to questions of class, nation, and the duties of citizenship. The goal, in appealing to both middle and working class audiences, was to acknowledge the existence of classes in themselves but to deny the need for them to act for themselves. This section examines how the Conservatives constructed ideas about the social constituency of Conservatism and increasingly accepted its identity as a political philosophy of the middle class.

Keywords:   Wage-earning class, middle class, political education, propaganda, ‘unpolitical politics’

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