A conservatism that addresses morally-important issues as diverse as human trafficking and the care of children with fathers in prison.
Broader conservatism rejects the narrowness of ‘caveman conservatism’. Crucially, this does not imply a rejection of ‘core Tory positions’ on Europe, tax and crime but an embrace of a wider set of political issues.
So, for example, a broader, more morally imaginative – and truer – conservatism will talk about tougher regulation of the arms trade, redistribution, care of prisoners’ families, unhealthy marriages and human trafficking.
Addressing an issue like the sale of arms to potentially unfriendly nations like Saudi Arabia shouldn’t be a problem for true conservatives. Conservatives believe in free trade but not in the free trade of everything. The sale of babies and body parts, for example, has always outraged civilised societies. A lightly-regulated arms trade is particularly dangerous in our time - when so many rogue nations have the desire to arm terrorist networks. Human trafficking is another example of trade that is neither free nor fair. Children in Africa have been trafficked to become soldiers and girls from the former Soviet Union have been trafficked to become prostitutes in European capital cities like London. Some estimates suggest that there are more slaves in the world today than at any stage in human history. These are vital moral issues and worthy causes for a Tory Party that must escape the ‘pounds, shillings and pence’ caricatures of itself.
George W Bush and a broader conservatism
President George W Bush has put time and money into causes traditionally associated with the idealistic left. He has talked about literacy as the new civil right; launched a worldwide campaign against the sex trafficking of women and children; funded the world’s biggest HIV/AIDS strategy; invested US$1.2bn into a research programme that might one day deliver hydrogen-powered cars; and vowed to find a mentor for every child with a father in prison.