Social conservatives believe that strong families and traditional values underpin 'one nation'.
Social conservatism has two main meanings.
Meaning 1 – traditional values conservatism
Its first and most common meaning covers a belief in the tried-and-trusted institutions of society. For social conservatives the family is the most tried-and-trusted institution. It offers the kind of multidimensional care that the feed-and-forget state cannot.
Social conservatives believe in protecting institutions and values that have evolved organically and/or have been religiously inspired. They defend them from allcomers.
Two leading allcomers are:
- Intruder capitalists and their dangerous belief in untrammelled market forces. Two manifestations of this are an unwillingness to regulate banks that push too much credit onto desperate families, or a reluctance to stop broadcasters transmitting hardcore pornography or very violent imagery.
- Sixties socialists are a second group that is opposed to social conservatism. Their big state policies detach people from the values and people-sized networks that are best placed to provide sustainable and personal care.
Meaning 2 – social policy conservatism
Social conservatism can also be used to describe a conservative agenda on social (or non-economic) policy. Social conservatives will be interested in healthcare, education, crime and, most of all, welfare. Conservatives committed to one nation politics are sometimes described as social conservatives.
Bringing the two meanings together
In reality the two interpretations should be connected umbilically. Increasing evidence suggests that the poorest members of society are most injured by socially liberal attitudes towards drugs, family life and teaching methods. A social conservatism that is interested in improving the lives of society’s most vulnerable people will want to defend the traditional behaviours and institutions that best care for them.