Kevin Hickson, Mark Garnett
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This book outlines and evaluates the political thought of the Conservative Party through a detailed examination of its principal thinkers from Harold Macmillan to the present.
Traditionally, the Conservative Party has been regarded as a vote-gathering machine rather than a vehicle for ideas. This book redresses the balance through a series of biographical essays examining the thought of those who have contributed most to the development of ideas within the party. The chapters benefit from archival research and interviews with leading Conservatives. The recent revival of Conservative fortunes makes the book particularly timely.
The book begins with an introductory chapter explaining the role of ideology in the Conservative Party. It then traces the political thought of the Conservative Party through its principal theorists since the 1930s. These are Harold Macmillan, R. A. Butler, Quintin Hogg, Enoch Powell, Angus Maude, Keith Joseph, the ‘traditionalists’ (Maurice Cowling, T. E. ‘Peter’ Utley, Peregrine Worsthorne, Shirley Letwin and Roger Scruton), Ian Gilmour, John Redwood and David Willetts. The book concludes with an overall assessment of the political thought of the Conservative Party and the relevance of past debates for contemporary Conservatism.
The book will be of considerable interest to academics and non-academics alike; for those who have a special interest in the Conservative Party but also for any student of contemporary British Politics.
Conservative thinkers Conservative thinkers The key contributors to the political thought of the modern Conservative Party Mark Garnett and Kevin Hickson Manchester University Press Manchester and New York distributed in the United States exclusively by Palgrave Macmillan Copyright © Mark Garnett and Kevin Hickson 2009 The right of Mark Garnett and Kevin Hickson to be identified as the authors of this work has been asserted by them in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act
raises their economic status’.52 Superficially, this sounded like the idealistic Butler of 1944–45; yet the peculiar phrasing suggests a recognition that, after all, post-war people were much more interested in ‘economic status’ than in spiritual and intellectual elevation. On this showing, Butler did not really have the right qualities to become prime minister in a media age. Of course, the same objection could be laid against the successful candidate, Alec Home. But at least Home had fewer
constructive force within an increasingly sterile Conservative Party, even if he was not an ideological soulmate; his value was as a stimulant for debate on topics that others wished to avoid, rather than a source of viable solutions to ‘the common problem’. In 1977, when discussing the rightward trajectory of the party under Thatcher, Lord Carrington was not far from the truth when he told Lord Hailsham that Maude was ‘not extreme, but bitter’.65 Even so, beyond any satisfaction he might have
70 71 72 R. Scruton, The Meaning of Conservatism (Macmillan, Basingstoke, 1980). Correspondence from Roger Scruton to Kevin Hickson, 19 January 2007. Scruton, The Meaning of Conservatism (2001 edn), p. viii. See in particular, R. Scruton, The Conservative Idea of Community (Conservative 2000 Foundation, London, 1996). Correspondence from Roger Scruton to Kevin Hickson, 19 January 2007. Scruton, The Conservative Idea of Community. Ibid., p. 27. See Scruton, The Meaning of Conservatism (2001
British history as an aberration rather than a continuance of a narrative which began under the Tudors. Ironically, when Powell launched his far-reaching attacks on state intervention since 1945 he was granted a respectful hearing by members of a supposedly anti-intellectual party. Obviously abstract theorising was perfectly acceptable, so long as the theorist reached conclusions which chimed in with the untutored prejudices of the audience, on immigration as well as economics. Powell himself