Progressive conservatism?

By Simon Barrow
May 30, 2008

Theologian Phillip Blond argues for a 'radical conservatism' (small and large 'C') that puts social justice and poverty at the top of its agenda.

His latest article, prefiguring a book called 'Red Tory', appears in The Guardian. He writes:

[C]onservatism must confront its greatest historic failing: the poor. A way out is the distinction between markets and capitalism; while the latter tends to a zero sum monopoly, the former need not. Indeed, a properly constituted market avoids monopoly capitalism and benefits all participants by eschewing the idea of a dispossessed class and extending ownership and the ability to trade to all. Real conservatism is therefore synonymous with fair trade, a just price and as wide as possible a distribution of assets, equity and credit.

The danger is that with New Labour imploding after the local elections and Crewe, the Tories avoid visionary thinking and coast to victory. But this is perilous: the electorate is fickle. Labour might elect a new leader and the persistence of the Lib Dems could frustrate a Conservative victory. Cameron has a decision to make: either he repeats the errors of neoliberalism, or he radicalises and extends his own vision of civic conservatism. If he finds the courage to do the latter then a progressive and transformative conservatism is possible.

The full article is here:

Phillip Blond is a senior lecturer in theology and philosophy at the University of Cumbria. He is currently writing 'Red Tory', a book on radical conservatism.

I am highly sceptical about Phillip's project, but it is worth scrutinising.

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