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Over a period of a few years, maybe together we can drain the social democratic swamp that is the current political culture, and see the end of the socialist mosquitoes that prey on all of us.

The model to be followed - and adapted for Britain's political system - is that of the development of the US conservative movement. Much of the rise of conservatism had little to do with the Republican Party and more to do with the work done by conservative organisational entrepreneurs who set up and expanded organisations such as the Heritage Foundation, the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, the Leadership Institute, the American Enterprise Institute and the Young America's Foundation.

From those organisations came the ideas and the leaders who turned a group whose views consisted of "irritable mental gestures" into the pre-eminent political philosophy of the day (see http://www.heritage.org/Research/PoliticalPhilosophy/HL811.cfm for a brief history of the development of the US conservative movement).

An excellent piece in the Times which I commend to everybody.I wonder if history is repeating itself in that the last time the right was putting forward so many ideas was in the late '70's and we all know what happened shortly after that!
Whilst what you say about the marked differences between the policy groups and the leadership is true (and in most cases I prefer the ideas of the policy groups) it is the leadership who actually have to win an election before any ideas at all are put into practice.

The neo-conervatives at the American Enterprise Institute, Weekly Standard and National Review are liberal imperialists (Henry "Scoop" Jackson Democrats) rather than true Conservatives like Russell Kirk. These organisations will not be present at CPAC 2007 and should not be considered part of the Conservative movement.

This was a very encouraging article. I think the internet has helped to weaken left wing dominance in the battle of ideas.

Interesting article. It's great to see such a vibrant policy review taking place across the wider centre-right, in preparation for government.

I was also surprised that the CSJ wasn't mentioned given its clear influence on Cameron's social agenda. It is interesting that the Social Justice Policy Group (which I think the CSJ runs) has been responsible for two of the most publicised policy developments under Cameron - the commitment to marriage, and the whole Polly Toynbee thing. A perfect example of traditional Tory thinking meeting a new commitment to poverty-fighting.

Interesting. Not enough but a good start. Essential that these organisations keep their distance from the Conservative Party and do not allow themselves to be co-opted (a particular risk for Policy Exchange). Career politicians never lead, they always follow and an intellectually revitalised centre-right is badly needed in a country which has been spoon-fed leftwing dogma and failure by all major parties for decades. The internet of course gives extra scope to bypass the Westminster-subservient press and the BBC.

I think the think-tanks deserve praise just for sticking with it, especially in the first 8 years of the Blair government when they were ignored by what would be regarded as the mainstream. The media certainly tended to ignore them and they were 'crowded out' by the left's hegemony.

Civitas are my favourite because of the way they are dismantling political correctness intellectually and not in a Daily Mail knee-jerk fashion.

By setting the intellectual ground they have made it easier to speak out as we saw with Cameron this week.

Two years ago, if he had said what he did, the left would screaming for his blood, now it is relatively silent.

Th Taxpayers Alliance media presence has grown very quickly. However, this is mainly because of James Frayne, who used to work for the anti-euro campaign and was campaign director of the No campaign in the North East regional assembly referendum.

Mr Frayne apparently resigned from the TPA last week in disgust at the state of the conservative movement in the UK - and people are saying he is emigrating, so perhaps now is not the time for champagne!

It is a shame that there are not more centre right groups focusing on foreign policy. There are many about Europe; the Globalisation Institute on free trade issues; Henry Jackson on war on terror; bujt what about global poverty and pollution? What about the transatlantic relationship?

You are right about the influence of Policy Exchange. Much of it is built on Nicholas Boles's personal connections with Gove, Maude and Cameron himself. If Boles leaves PE for the Mayoral race then it is unclear if that influence will persist on the same scale.

Why does Open Europe do no campaigning and never appear in the media?????

What does it do?

So within the Westminster bubble, and within the small self-contained blogosphere, more and more people are setting up blogs that say "I am right! Anyone who disagrees with anything I say is a leftie! David Cameron is scum!", and more single-issue myopic think tanks are being set up.

So what? 99% of the population couldn't give a damn or don't use the internet, and none of this will decide an election. Nor does it deserve to: policy of parties shouldn't be decided by who bangs the loudest drum or has the bigger microphone.

"The neo-conervatives... ...should not be considered part of the Conservative movement."

I certainly wouldn't go so far as to say that neo-conservatives such as Donal Blaney were 'not part of the Conservative movement', they clearly are. However I do find that the so-called Paleocons of The American Conservative Magazine, the Free Congress Foundation/Center for Cultural Conservatism et al, do have much to offer and many valuable insights, and it is a great pity they are so marginal within US conservatism. If anything the situation in the UK seems rather healthier, perhaps as a result of conservatism's relative weakness here, there seems to be room for more diversity of thought. Long may that continue.

"So what? 99% of the population couldn't give a damn..."

In 1979 99.9% of the population hadn't heard of Keith Joseph and couldn't give a damn, but the intellectual underpinnings he and others provided to the new Conservative government enabled it to break from the managerialist tradition and implement desperately needed reform, so that today we are no longer the economic 'sick man of Europe'. Incidentally that also resulted in 18 years of Conservative government. Ideas matter.

Splendid, great news, super.
Got to have balance against the welter of Leftie Think Tanks that are always quoted, but their political stance ignored by the news media.

So George Osborne has never met the Tax Payers Alliance and Policy Exchange's influence is based principally upon the personal relationship between one man within it and a clique within the Party. Why am I not surprised, appalled but not surprised.

Margeret OTG, I disagree with you for, I think, the first time ever! (in a nice way you understand!) It's vital that we have an intellectual underpinning for what we're about, else those who slag us off for just wanting to win elections would be completely correct. I don't agree with them, and that's why (in particular) I'm sorry that CSJ did not feature in today's article.

What I understand by "Cameronism" is exactly a mixture of the social conservatism espoused by the CSJ - the idea that our mere existence entails some sort of duty to one another - an idea which should be anathema to both socialists and liberals - and the work of bodies like the Policy Exchange which are interested in delimiting our modern rights and duties. Pace multiple posters on this site, I don't believe the two objectives are in opposition to one another.

Matt @ 10.56,

I think you are mistaken in your praise for "sticking with it". The only people that have ignored the right-wing think-tanks over the past years have been...The Conservative Party. Policy-making at the level of regulators and government departments has never been so heavily influenced by the ideas of right-wing intellectuals. Indeed in some areas, such as healthcare, right-wing policy ideas have been so dominant that they are the only game in town, and politicians like Dobson that wanted to roll back Conservative reforms such as the Internal Market have simply been unable to find any left-wing concept to implement.

We see this in many other areas, also - competition policy, telecoms regulation, financial markets regulation, central bank organisation, and so on. It is right-wing policy ideas that dominate.

That is part of the reason it is so frustrating that the Conservative Party has consistently ignored its intellectuals since about 1994, and is still, by and large, doing so today. Conservative intellectuals are regarded by the Party hierarchy as wacky, embarassing and unelectable - useful only for disancing oneself from, to say "Well... if you think I'm bad, at least I'm not *them*!"

Ah, well...

I do not understand what Osborne would have to gain from meeting the TPA.

This is excellent news. The ideas produced by these organisations will hopefully permeate various influential elites and the media who will in turn broadcast the ideas to the public. We need to show that there are solutions to Britain's problems that don't involve incresing taxes and letting the government try and sort everything out.

Its about time the right had a resurrgence in its ideas and thinking, without this base how else do we progress, its good ideas that'll get us back into power!! And for those who don't think it matters, you can see here that news and interest in new right-wing ways of thinking is spreading across the web and political sites http://gweirdo.com/blog//index.php?blog=5&title=the_right_way_of_thinking&more=1&c=1&tb=1&pb=1

The strength of the American conservative movement is that is embraces social conservatives and economic liberals and neocons and gun rights advocates and pro-lifers etc etc etc.

I am intrigued to be called a neocon just because I support the War on Terror. I see myself as much more of a Reagan/Thatcher conservative than a Bush/Cameron conservative - such that it matters!

I too am more of a a Reagan/Thatcher conservative than a Bush/Cameron conservative... but what the heck is a Bush/Cameron Conservative? :)
Sorry Donal, no offense intended.

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