About Us

In January 1970, Edward Heath held a brainstorming session of the shadow cabinet at The Selsdon Park Hotel near Croydon, Surrey. The meeting aimed to formulate policies for the 1970 General Election manifesto. The result was a radical free market agenda, condemned by the then Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, as the work of "Selsdon Man". Wilson lost the subsequent General Election. After a short period, however, Heath abandoned the 1970 manifesto in the face of bitter opposition from the trade unions. This historic u-turn was the catalyst for the formation of the Selsdon Group in 1973. The late Nicholas Ridley and others created the new group to uphold and promote the free market policies that had won the Conservative Party the 1970 General Election. The "Selsdon Declaration", to which all members must subscribe, was adopted at the Selsdon Group's first meeting at the Selsdon Park Hotel in September 1973. The group was attacked by many figures within the Conservative Party establishment. Its ideals, however, proved triumphant and many of its policies were implemented by the governments led by Baroness Thatcher and John Major. Aims The Selsdon Group exists to promote the case for free market policies within the Conservative Party. Philosophically, its members believe that economic freedom is the indispensable condition for political and social freedom. Tactically, members reject the view that the "middle ground" is where elections and won. We believe that the Conservative Party wins office when it adopts distinctive Conservative policies based on choice, social mobility, private ownership and individual freedom. These were the principles of Burke, Peel, Salisbury, Churchill and Thatcher. Management The Group is managed by a committee that is elected each year at its Annual General Meeting. Ordinary members are encouraged to assist the committee with the running of the group. The Group is financed through membership subscriptions, donations and sponsorship. Membership is open to any fully paid up member of the Conservative Party who supports the aims of the group, as stated in the Selsdon Declaration and is approved by the committee.

Nicholas Ridley

On September 19th 1973 Nicholas Ridley spoke at the inaugural meeting of the Selsdon Group. Nearly fifty years may have passed since that date but it is striking how relevant his words remain to the political debate today.  Read more...