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Simon C

Happy Day! I am delighted that Liam has now broken cover, and look forward to seeing how his campaign develops. There are some earlier hares ahead of the Fox, but he has every opportunity to catch them up. As many bloggers on this site have pointed out, unlike other contenders, he has the happy knack of being able to do his politics without building up an Anyone But Fox vote.

His contributions to the post-election debate so far have been insightful and original. Today's article is no exception. He sets out a vision for Britain and her place in the world, and his words are full of the Reaganite optimism which British Conservatism desperately needs to capture:

"We should not seek power for its own sake but for the opportunity it brings to shape our country's future.

This is what my leadership would be about: sound defence; keeping more of what you earn; less government interference in people's lives; a sense of family, community and respect for the law; Britain controlling its own destiny.

These are the things that we stand for. Only when we talk to the British people about their future, not our own, will the Conservatives be listened to again."

James Hellyer

Excellent news. It makes a change to see someone focussing on what they want to do for Britain, rather than dwelling on personalities or the past.

Selsdon Man

Dr Fox needs to set out how he will tackle the "broken society". What are the roles of the state and the voluntary sector?

A good start though!


Whilst I agree with what Liam has to say,I am a little bit disappointed for two reasons.1 He has shown the same lack of detail as the other candidates so far,understandable, but I expected more from this thoughtful man.Secondly he has focused on those subjects which are so predictable for a Conservative, low taxes,defence,Europe etc.
I think Liam is going to have to take far more risks than this if his voice is going to be heard above of the din of better supported candidates.


Further to my previous post I am delighted that Liam spoke about the enviroment(only candidate to do so?).This issue was completely overlooked at the last election by us which I thought was a tragedy.


Not only environment Malcolm but also mental health, domestic violence and human rights abuses in the third world...

Simon C


The leadership launch speech is not the time to set out detailed policy poisitions - but to give an idea of your agenda for the country and the issues you want to tackle. Detailed speeches on those issues can follow later.

Liam's themes are not as limited as you suggest - our broken society is at the heart of his campaign, hence his decision to launch at a Mental Health Centre away from Westminster. He emphasises the environment. On foreign policy (which is after all his current portfolio) he re-stressed the need to stop obssessing about the EU and the need to look East to India and China.

James Maskell

The leadership contest is hotting up, from a mental health centre...well if your a Tory theres no better place to start!

In all seriousness Im very curious to see what he has to offer the Party. One of the things coming from the papers which will get a few votes especially from the younger members of the party is his down to earth nature...weve all seen the articles about him with a pretty girl on his lap and a beer in his hand enjoying himself. Hes normal.

At the moment I havent really picked a candidate I personally like above all others, but Fox does have the basics that I like. Conservative but with a realist tone to his comments. Hes not ideologically driven but he does have a basis for his views.

Does Des Swayne's endorsement indicate that Fox is the choice of the Cornerstone Group? Perhaps the Editor could enlighten us!

James Hellyer

Does it tell us what Michael Howard is thinking?

Selsdon Man

Sorry James, but Liam Fox is more ideological than the others. His speeches often references to Friedman and Hayek - the "liberals" that social conservatives like Lord Griffiths and Edward Leigh despise. The influence was Keith Joseph and other leading free marketeers who influenced Conservative students in the 70s and 80s.

Samuel Coates

Having said that though..

"Dr Fox now has ten public endorsements but will be under pressure to reveal more of the forty MPs his campaign has claimed to have."
"Dr Fox's mix of social plus compassionate conservatism with Euroscepticism seems most likely to appeal to its members which number close to thirty.".
= Hint?

Simon C

The Doc's team has a campaign office, and a website too:

James Hellyer

That's my support registered.


Selsdon Man: I know Lord Griffiths and Edward Leigh. I think both would find much to admire in the teachings of Hayek and Friedman but they would not share all of their beliefs. They certainly don't despise their beliefs - and certainly not them as people, as you stated.

Selsdon Man

From Brian Griffith's Wilberforce lecture

"Hayek made it very clear that morals had evolved in an impersonal natural way and he was especially dismissive of those who believed that ethical rules were immutable and eternal. As there is no revealed morality, each individual is free to choose the standards by which they live and the only authority ultimately is the appeal to the reason and judgement of the individual. One may value the wisdom embodied in tradition but in the final analysis Hayek, Mandeville and Hume are as secular in their thinking as any of the continental philosophers from who they wish to distance themselves. "

"Liberalism is also a powerful influence in the economic field. Conservatism in Britain today is closely identified with the market economy. Yet a Conservative defence of the market needs to be distanced from that form of secular liberalism which underpins the defence of free markets by economists such as Friedman, Becker and most of all Hayek."

"there is at the heart of Hayek's philosophy a fundamental weakness, which can only be addressed by a belief in values for which, independently of religion, he has no source."

Despise may have been the wrong word to use but Lord Griffiths is very critical of Hayek, and to a lesser extent, Friedman. His speech does associate Hayek with libertariansim and concludes his speech.

"The danger we face today is to be seduced in the name of tolerance by a libertarian social philosophy, which contains no objective standards of morality, which will lead through the abuse of freedom and neglect of responsibility, to a multiplicity of social problems, and which ultimately, and this is the real irony, will require a more authoritarian framework for society to redress the chaos which such a society will inevitably produce. Conservatism has always stood against libertarianism, as the negation of everything it stands for. If the Conservative party were to become libertarian it would in my judgement be the end of the Conservative party as we have known it. "

This is the passage that Leigh quoted in his pamphlet. The problem with it is that it confuses libertarianism with libertinism - as does David Willetts. Many "Libertarians" are social conservatives.

The key issue is the role of state of enforcing or delivering the morality sought by Griffiths and Leigh. They appear to favour such a strong role for the State. I would be surprised if Dr Liam Fox does.

Selsdon Man

I should add that the key issue is Christianity. Griffiths and Leigh believe that you must have religious belief to have morals. The Scottish Enlightenment thinkers believed that individual autonomy and reason, rather than religion, is the basis for morality.

In his speech to Politeia, Dr Fox said "we need a Conservative Party whose instincts are economically conservative and socially liberal in tune with the diversity and aspirations of Britain in the 21st century"... "Freedom is not a slogan. Freedom is not just a means to an end. Freedom is our essence. Freedom is our core. Let Freedom reign.”

That speech, in my opinion, comes from the Scottish Enlightenment tradition.

Simon C


In his Telegraph article on Britishness in the summer, Liam identified Christianity as the main cultural influence on the British way of life. He went on to recognise the contribution that the Scottish enlightenment has made to conservative thinking.

For myself, I see no necessary link between Christianity and belief in a strong state role in enforcing morality. We cannot, after all, legislate ourselves into the Kingdom of heaven. The state's role is to create the conditions in which people can quietly build productive (and, as a believer, Godly) lives for themselves their families and their communities. It will need to lend a helping hand to those who cannot help themselves. But not to the extent of sapping individual responsibility and dignity.

There is a role for the state - but it is not always about "strong enforcement".

For what it's worth I think Liam subscribes to something similar to that as well, at least from reading his Broken Society speech.

Selsdon Man

I agree with you Simon - it is the people like the Cornerstone Group who want to use state power to impose a religious society, e.g. through subsidy of faith schools.

I come from a strong Christian family. My mother is the secretary to our Minister and my father is a senior elder in our Church. We believe in separating church from state.

Simon C


I don't see faith schools as imposing a religious society on anyone - but providing choice to parents about how their children are educated. So far as Church schools are concerned, many parents of no faith & other faiths welcome the chance to send their children to them.

We part company on this point. (This is meant to register a disagreement - but I won't have time today to argue it out! Faith schools have already been blogged vigorously on this site & I am sure will be again)


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