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I agree with the little guy thing. New labour saw that the Conservatives supported business and so tried to copy but missed the point entirely with their Big Everything ethos meaning big business and corporations were allowed to overgrow whilst the small guys were strangled thereby reducing competition - and then they blame their failings on the market!

Conservativism is about fairness in the true sense of the word. Fairness of opportunity and fairness of reward for work/effort... not the theif robin hood's obscure version of fair.

Famously, when her colleagues were arguing for 'the middle way', Margaret Thatcher got Hayek's 'Constitution of Liberty' out of her briefcase, banged it on the table and said, "This is what we believe."

That's the way I feel. Conservatism should be about extending liberty, dispersing power, and strengthening the institutions of a free society.

To preempt two criticisms: (1) I'm not saying today's Tories should adopt a Thatcherite tone - times have changed and different presentation and rhetoric is necessary. But the Tories should not abandon their beliefs and lose sight of their purpose. (2) It's true that free markets are taking a few hits at the moment, but that has just made Hayek more relevant than ever – particularly on monetary policy and the economic cycle.

I like Howard's formulation.

When unions are too powerful conservatives stand against them.

When banks have too much power conservatives stand against them.

When religious leaders are too powerful conservatives stand against them.

When the press is too powerful conservatives stand against them.

We must always be the pragmatic party - exposed to excess and concentrations of power.

I agree that this is what Conservatism should be about. Unfortunately in my area of local government the party seems to have been hijacked.
The "Conservative" incumbents are using all the nulabour techniques - bullying their opponents, flicking two fingers at the law, etc - to stay in power and blindly implementing the government's "initiatives".

Alastair Cooke's argument is meaningless. Saying we are a party of change is like defining a party as modern or forward looking. It tells us nothing useful.

Conservatism should be about providing the framework that encourages individuals to work for their families and wider society.

Us and them.

Us: Responsibilities
Them: Rights

Us: Reality
Them: Illusion

Us: Hope
Them: Guilt

Us: Patriotism
Them: Self-loathing

Us: Homes
Them: Housing

Us: Liberty
Them: Conformity

Us: Education
Them: Re-education

And slightly tenuously:

Us: Barclays & HSBC
Them: HBOS & RBS


Us: England
Them: Anyone but.

"Alastair Cooke, former head of the Conservative Research Department (we think when David Cameron worked there)..."

Yes this is correct because I too was at CCO at the same time - helping to run Speakers' Department.

Alastair is one of the finest and wisest thinkers in modern-day Conservatism and his description of a "conservative" Conservative Party at the same time being the Party of change is a brilliant summing up of what we stand for! Patriotism, Property, Family yes but also adapting to the new - whilst still preserving the best of the old!

I'm getting "Server is too busy" when I try and visit The Blue Blog. C'mon conservatives.com. You paid 250,000 pounds for the new website. This is the second time in a week it has not worked.

What is Conservatism's mission? Inertia leavened with negativism. Followed very closely by, not having a mission.

Conservatism must offer non-ideological politics based on balanced respect for the freedom of the individual. At the same time Conservatism must be willing to accept that freedom is not licence, whether it be in social or economic policy. Recents events have demonstrated the dangers inherent when ideology enters economics masked as 'the right' to absolute free trade and practice.

" US and Them" Dorian

You are sad !!

No wonder people keep going back to calling us the "Nasty Party " with comments like yours

God help "us".

“Little else is requisite to carry a state to the highest degree of conservatism from the lowest socialism but retention of sovereignty, easy taxes, a tolerable administration of justice and a light burden of government.”
Ken Stevens
(-- with cursory acknowledgement to Adam Smith!]

I'd suggest a few, in easy-to-swallow soundbite form:

Placing Britain's interests foremost in all our international dealings.

A society in which people can freely profit from from their own efforts and achievements.

Rewarding self-reliance, discouraging dependency.

The State as an enabler not a provider.

Accepting that "the man from whitehall/the town hall" rarely if ever knows best.

Reason, not faith.

A mixed constitution, free markets, toleration, and ordered liberty.

The champions of the individual and the underdog.

Which conservatism are we talking about?

Cameron's Libertarian Conservatism vs his non-Libertarian conservatism?

His anti-intervenionist Thatcherism, vs his pro-interventionist support of the Brown Plan?

His green credentials, vs his revocation of green taxes?

His Euroscepticism vs his continued support for the EPP?

Hug a hoodie vs lock a hoodie up?

It's OK to be gay vs marriage gets special privileges?

Let me know, and I'll give you an answer.

"Which conservatism are we talking about?"

Ah, Resident Leftie, there is a question!

To find out the answer we will have to convene a focus group of floating voters in a marginal constituency.

Inertia ACT? Really .are you trying to be funny? Peel, Churchill, Thatcher - inert? Whether you like it or not,(probably not) most of the dynamic periods of government have occured under Conservative rule.
There is no 'us' about you Gezmond. You hate Conservatism, we hate nuLabour.

"a shift from an econocentric paradigm to a sociocentric paradigm."

Oliver Letwin, May 2007. Less than a month before the beginning of the stock market slide as the first news of the credit crunch began to emerge.


Yeah, Peel was such a success for the Party, wasn't he? And Churchill's peacetime government is one we should be *itching* to copy. After all, now that the state is well on its way to owning the bedrock of British capitalism, why shouldn't the government start, Churchill-fashion, appeasing the Unions again too? But as for Mrs Thatcher: "perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away" (Saint Exupéry). Her negativism lent itself to achievement of the purest political inertia, that's precisely what was so wonderful about Thatcherism.

Address the point Malcolm , dont just slag people off as usual !

By the way Malcolm I don,t hate anybody , (not even You) I just have opinions on certain people's abilities.

Just because they don't agree with yours you feel that you have to be rude to people, very sad.

Hello Resident Leftie,

‘Which conservatism are we talking about?’

Your homework assignment for tonight is to list any similarities between the Labour government of the current endless eternity and Socialism and proper left-wingery.

Nationalising banks doesn't count.

One accepts that there are some slight inconsistencies in our approach but this is a key Conservative virtue: Pragmatism.

Velvet glovery and iron fisting. Talking of which:

Jezza007. I contend, sir, that you are a twerp.

What point was that Gezmond? That you think Conservatives are nasty?
Are you still trying to be funny ACT?

Back to the subject of the thread please!

Posted by: David_at_Home | October 13, 2008 at 16:33
To find out the answer we will have to convene a focus group of floating voters in a marginal constituency.

I'm sure Ashcroft would be happy to pay for that for you. Although perhaps not for much longer - he's being investigated by the electoral commission.

I would go along with Jennifer Wells list @ 13.32, and more or less with Tanuki's list @ 15.24.

Tony you mention the danger when ideology enters 'economics'. I would go further and say that when 'ideology' gets into business, into manufacturing, into to education, and even into the home, as it does under a socialist regime, then you have problems!

A society in which people can freely profit from from their own efforts and achievements.

I would add to this (in a non-soundbite friendly way) that it is only OK to profit from their own achievements as long as it's not to the detriment of others, unless they have been fully informed of any potential detriment.

Maybe conservativism is/should be also full information to all and let the people decide. Rather than make things up to bully people with exagerated flakey information/stats into a decision that is the "right thing to do" (That goes for 'climate change', drugs, wars and more) and so an acceptance that polititians may have to do things that aren't popular from time to time.

This is a useful debate and one that should always be driving along a fresh concept and feel of what we are for and how we address each challenge that confronts us at local and national levels.

As I've said before we need to avoid the shopping list approach to what Conservatism is, even if each item on the list is in itself true. When someone says "what is Conservatism?", reeling off lists like - patriotic, free enterprise, rule of law....etc, is not much use and doesn't convey any real sense of the purpose that we have in our party. People actually switch off or think well no way am I Conservative but I do beleive in the rule of law. After all Stalin believed in the rule of law!

As I say this site attempted this task before and some good ideas came up about communicating Conservatism in short succinct ways. Many comments at that time reflected the point Howard made about the little person. When one attempts to crystallise our views they come down to empowerment, although I appreciate that word is not the best of words. I think the best single phrase that conveys this in a modern way is an exrecise worth pursuing.

More deeply I think Conservatives believe in harnessing natural human aspirations and helping each other to meet those goals in positive and practical ways. Whether at the community level or in enterprise we want to create the right conditions for this to happen and this also means we have to embrace innovation. We don't feel the state is best equipped to do this although we think it has a key role in helping enable this. We put people first in these endeavours not the machine of the state or of ideologies. We know that things are built up from the ground and that the conditions that enabled this then need protecting. You can't have empowered people if they are not basically free, educated, able to go about their duties in a system of stable law and order with their property protected. But those things are there to empower people and those people come first not the state.

We differ from socialism in that this is essentially an abstract idea aiming at a utopia which when its not achieved becomes statist or authoritarian or centralist, or all those things, as it tries to force people to do what the ideology requires to meet the utopia. In doing so huge unintended consequences unfold that pervert the aspirations of people and their ability to innovate.

1) British (or more specifically English) nationalism. The Conservatives have always been the patriotic party. It has an uncomplicated, if often unarticulated, pride in being British (English). The Party opposed to a German King, the Party of Empire, the Party against Home Rule for Ireland, the Party of Wellington, Disraeli and Churchill.
2) A hatred of foreign (i.e. European) entanglements. Flowing from the first principle, the Conservative Party has always treated Europe with disdain. The Party that ended the Whig wars with Louis XIV, the Party that sought a balance of power in Europe, the Party of “splendid isolation”, the Party of appeasement, the Party that hates the EU, the Party of Harley, Liverpool, Salisbury, Baldwin and Thatcher.
3) A belief in the virtues of small government and a distrust of Whitehall. Paradoxically for the patriotic party, the Conservative Party has always distrusted government from Whitehall and believed, subject to their duties to the State and to their local community, that Britons should be as free as possible from central government interference. The Party opposed to a standing army, the Party of country gentlemen, the Party that set up London Boroughs, the Party opposed to Socialism.
4) Low Taxation. Flowing from or indeed towards the third principle, the Conservative Party has invariably argued for low taxation or at least for less taxation than its rivals. It is strange that, although this is the principle that has most often been observed in the breach, it is also the most universal. Even the Parties of Macmillan and Heath, whose support for the other four principles was iffy at best, passed this test.
5) Individual Liberty with Personal Responsibility Actually the summation of the other four principles, the Conservative Party believes that on average a Briton can be trusted to make the right decision for themselves, their family, their community and their country. That they have the right and indeed the duty to exercise that judgement free from Whitehall or EU interference, using as much of their own income and capital as is not absolutely necessary to support the public services. As a corollary, they have the responsibility to accept the consequences of those choices.

Gezmond is a troll, his posts are consistently puerile and fail to add value.

How would you define the Conservative Party's mission?

Desite all the ongoing financial shennanigans, Cameron should stick to his sociological emphasis.

Fixing Britain's broken society.

Grow up Richard j , the truth hurts doesn't it!

"A mixed constitution, free markets, toleration, and ordered liberty."

Why thats what I think too! A very English concept of Conservatism.

You surprise me Andrew . I thought you were British and Britishness means the Barnett Rules, a rotten skewed unfair and anti English constitution and endless references to a geographical area called "Britain" with which I identify only very secondarily and deliberate airbrushing out of all mention of England.

Are you sure we are both talking about the same thing?

Hoping not too late to comment on this!

The Conservative mission should be:

• Freedom of speech, conscience, religion and to live peacefully according to conscience (would mean repealing all laws passed by Labour that erode suich basic freedoms)

• Freedom that has the safety of proper restraints on behaviour that endangers others, or undermines peace and order, or society as a whole. A freedom by the guide-rails of our Christian foundations.

• Free individuals and families from State interference, including in the bringing up and discipline of children.

• Reduce the size of the State.

• Strong law & order and defence. That is law and order that targets the criminal and terrorist, rather than the general population as ID cards would.

• Freedom from interfering international bodies like the EU and UN

Hate ponces who say conservatism just amends and endorses the status quo. Admiral Donitz and Lavrenty Beria were, in that case, conservatives.

Hate puddings who say conservatism just does what's practical. My plumber, in that case, is a philosopher, but who'd vote for him?

Hate Tory wonks who offer slogans with no purchase and agonise in remote, cotton wool language about "the family".

Tories want low tax, low immigration and tough policing. They want more gaols and a crack down on drugs. They want grammar schools and apprenticeships. They want an absolute, not a relative definition of poverty. THEY ARE NOT GREEN.

This is the red meat of Toryism and when properly applied, it works. 2005 failed not because it was "extreme" - it wasn't. It won a majority of the votes in England. It failed because it was half heartedly applied.

"It's not racist to..." OF COURSE IT'S NOT BLOODY RACIST TO WORRY ABOUT BLOODY, BLOODY, BLOODY IMMIGRATION. We're all worried and we want someone to sound the clarion call of the right, not some timid, knock kneed Etonian or other.

Bring back David Davis - as leader.

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