This article focuses on Michael Howard's ideas to illustrate ideological developments within the Conservative party. It recognises that the ideas of a democratic organisation cannot be represented by the thoughts of a single individual, but Howard provides useful insights. He won the leadership unopposed in November 2003 partly because he seemed likely to perform well in debates with Tony Blair, but also because he offered the prospect of policy reform on a range of issues without a radical departure from the Thatcher legacy. Soon after becoming leader Howard issued an unusually detailed statement of his beliefs. This showed him to be a convinced economic liberal, whose thinking has been heavily influenced by America. The main departure from Thatcherism is that he is even more antipathetic towards the state. This is difficult to reconcile with his support for UK 'sovereignty' within the EU, his hard line on law and order issues, and his insistence that there are no plans to privatise the NHS. It is unlikely to provide a platform for a significant Tory recovery.