‘Conservatism has never been an ideology; it is a response to changing circumstances.’

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`Conservatism has never been an ideology; it is a response to changing circumstances.'
Michael Oakshott has argued that politics should not have any fixed goals or sense of specific
direction. "A conservation, not an argument", the state should be governed on a pragmatic basis
taking into account the traditions and `intimations' of the people. However it has been argued that
traditional Conservatives believe in a set of values: Tradition, Organic Society, Property and Natural
Disraeli the father of One Nation Conservatism believed that the country was splitting into two: the
rich and the poor. In the fear of the ideology Socialism, socially deprived are more likely to turn to
revolution and against the authority of the government. He introduced policies on the basis of
`noblesse oblige' it is the obligation of the rich to help the poor, to deter revolution and as a
`response to changing circumstances'. The result was the 1867 Reform Act was introduced to
enfranchise the working class masses, and raising living and working conditions. However it can be
argued that One Nation conservatives initiated these reforms along the lines of the Organic Society.
In order to create social cohesion, society has to work like a living entity with a collection of individual
parts working together. This has been echoed in the 2010 Conservative Manifesto Cameron's `Big
Society' encouraging active neighbourhood groups and volunteering amongst the young.
The greatest example of pragmatism to date is Harold MacMillan's acceptance of the NHS, radical
reforms introduced by Atlee who nationalised one third of the British economy in align with socialist
and Keynesian ideology. This at the time cause great prosperity and popularity for the economic
theory. The economy was booming, consequently as part of electoral politics MacMillan kept the NHS
owing to its popularity. Traditional conservatives have always been suspicious of abstract theories
and radicalism. They believe in gradual change and that institutions have been tested by time, only
introducing principles from past experience. However this almost pragmatic approach can be a
reference to Disraeli's `Noblesse oblige' having relevance to Tory paternalism a key conservative
idea, it literally means as act in a fatherly manor, power or authority is exercised with the intention of
preventing harm, social welfare to protect the public. Fundamental principles, organic society and
natural hierarchy are used to justify these changes.
Margret Thatcher took office in Britain in 1975-1990, largely influenced by US President Ronald
Regan's style of neo-classical liberalism, and much reliance on key philosophers such as Adam Smith
and the long standing association with Keith Joseph. Thatcher's policies were particularly used as a
response to changing circumstances, conflicting with Keynes' idea of spending out of a recession,
Thatcher believed in monetarism, using supply side policies such as privatisation in order to create
economic growth. If an industry was failing there was not need to prop it up with state subsidies,
because of economic inefficiency and enterprise culture as well as the need to `roll back the frontiers
of the state. Lowering top rate taxation to 40% allows for individuals and lower corporation tax on
businesses to prosper and there would be a trickling down effect as there are more job
opportunities. Cameron similarly used the same pragmatic justification for the privatisation of Royal
Mail and the austerity measures of tight fiscal policy in attempt to gain economic recovery.
On the other hand Thatcher used traditional conservative principles within her supply side policies
such as social authoritarianism and strict law and order, an example of neo-conservatism. Authority
allows for a social glue binding people together, people know where they stand and know what is
expected of them. Permissiveness could undermine social structures, this is evident when Thatcher
privatised the coal industry, caused the Miners' Strikes, Thatcher increased recruitment of the police

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Trade Union power using 3 pieces of legislation
1980, 84, 88. In Cameron's government there has been significant proof of neo-conservatism from
Teresa May speech to the Police Federation force indicating that she would put in place legislation if
they did not reform. Another example is of Gove's education reforms abolishing the no tough rule
and imposing an emphasis on tradition education. Neo-conservative ideological evidence is
Nationalism by both Thatcher and Cameron; Thatcher persevered after huge criticism winning the
Falkland's war.…read more


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