Blond ambition

By Simon Barrow
July 2, 2009

Transgressive political theorist and theologian Phillip Blond is on the threshold of launching a new venture, according to Allegra Stratton.

The Guardian political correspondent, reporting on the latest developments at the centre-left think-tank Demos, mentions inter alia that Blond, whose ‘Red Tory’ project has been housed there of late, will be creating his own thought arena soon.

She writes that Demos “was established in the mid-90s by former Blair adviser Geoff Mulgan and though it has frequently published pamphlets by non-Labour figures, government sources were perplexed when Demos used the occasion of its 16th birthday in May [2009] to appoint to its board politicians from the Conservative and Lib Dem parties including the shadow chancellor, George Osborne, and Treasury spokesman for the Lib Dems, Vince Cable.”

Well, if they were surprised, it shows how out of touch “government sources” are. Demos’ other founder was Martin Jacques, who along with doyen sociologist Stuart Hall pioneered the critique of Thatcherism (a term they first employed). In the ’80s and early ’90s, Jacques transformed the formerly sterile journal Marxism Today ( into a heterodox platform for revisionist thinking, unafraid to engage those across the political spectrum, with or without the approval of those within its natural orbit. Demos has picked up similar restless and creative intellectual habits, to its credit.

Allegra adds: “Relations between Demos and the government had already soured over the last year with the thinktank's decision to hire the conservative academic Phillip Blond to develop ideas of "progressive Conservatism". In the forthcoming days, Blond will announce he is leaving Demos to set up his own thinktank.”

For more, see:

Phillip Blond ( was formerly based at the University of Cumbria and has a strong relationship with John Milbank and the Cambridge-originated Radical Orthodoxy theological school, which has mostly been associated with Christian socialism in political terms, as an outworking of the recovery of Augustinian-style thought in post-modern conditions.

Milbank and others have been extremely critical of New Labour, however, and of the wider secularisation and hedonism and the left. This may in part explain the emergence of attempts at post-triangulation political ideas aimed at recovering and earlier Tory tradition of social concern and localism divorced from recent neoliberal economics and the authoritarianism of Thatcher’s legacy.

We have covered and commented upon the intriguing ‘Red Tory’ idea and its feasibility (or lack of it) here on Ekklesia. See: We also helped to set up the interview with Vince Cable in the Summer ’09 issue of Third Way magazine:

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