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POLITICAL THEORY:

CONSERVATISM
PAST PAPER QUESTIONS

SQA 2017
Analyse the key features of a political ideology that you have studied. In your answer you should
refer to the work of at least one relevant theorist.
(12)
SQA 2016
The key features of political ideologies have very little in common.
Discuss with reference to two political ideologies and the ideas of relevant theorists. (12)
CONSERVATIVE THOUGHT

Conservatism sets great value on tradition and wisdom drawn from the customs and
practices of previous generations.

Experience is the supreme political virtue.

Conservatives are also, traditionally, light on ideology.

Many believe in pragmatism what is politically and socially practical, rather than having a big
idea of how to transform society.
MICHAEL OAKESHOTT
(1901-1990)
DIFFERENT CONSERVATIVES

In the modern UK there are different kinds of conservatives.

Individualists
One Nation
Blue Dog
Todays Conservatives emphasise tradition,
individual responsibility and private
ownership.

Whether they realise it or not,


(Conservatives, as they say, do not do
ideology), conservatives follow the ideas of
Edmund Burke. Burkes writings were a
riposte to the events of the French
CONSERVATIVE revolution of 1798.
THOUGHT

We fear God, we look up with awe to kings;


with affection to parliaments; with duty to
magistrates; with reverence to priests; and with
respect to nobility.
CONSERVATISM

It is with infinite caution that any man


ought to venture upon pulling down an
edifice which has answered in any
tolerable degree for ages the common
purposes of society, or on building it up
again without having models and patterns
of approved utilities before our eyes

Edmund Burke, 1729-1797


REFLECTIONS ON THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE

In July 1789, the French Revolution exploded


in Paris.
Some in Britain and the USA applauded the
extraordinary events in France for expanding
the "rights of man."

But Burke did not.

"As much injustice and tyranny has been


practiced in a few months by a French
democracy," Burke wrote to a friend, "as in all
the arbitrary monarchies in Europe."
REFLECTIONS ON THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE

Burke saw the revolutionary


ideas let loose in France as a
threat to the British system of
government.

Burkes Theory
REFLECTIONS ON THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE

Burke acknowledged that changes


and reforms might be
necessary, but not the complete
destruction of the inheritance from
a nations forefathers.

He cited the English Glorious


Revolution of 1688. It preserved
Englands ancient laws and liberties
by making the will of Parliament
superior to that of the monarchy.
REFLECTIONS ON THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE

Burke celebrated the British


Constitution, which contained
the inherited "rights of
Englishmen," not some
theoretical notion about the
"rights of man."
He therefore criticized many
Enlightenment writers such as
Rousseau who believed in
"natural rights" and creating the
perfect society.
REFLECTIONS ON THE REVOLUTION IN FRANCE

He was in favour of the free


market setting wages and
opposed government support
for the poor. This was the job of
private charity not government,
he said. He argued that
burdensome taxes would lead
only to the poverty of all.
Taxes, he declared, should mainly
be limited to funding the
nations established religion,
courts, and military.
BIG THEMES IN CONSERVATISM: OWNERSHIP OF
PROPERTY

Ownership of property brings


financial responsibility.
It encourages independence.
It allows wealth to be passed
onto to the next generation,
strengthening family bonds.
BIG THEMES IN CONSERVATISM:
CONTINUITY OF ESTABLISHED INSTITUTIONS

The UK as a political
entity
The Royal family
The House of Lords
NATO

Scottish Conservatives
BIG THEMES IN CONSERVATISM:
LAW AND ORDER

Good order is the foundation of all


things.

Burke, Reflections on the Revolution in


France,' 1790

Man needs order and security


which are more desirable than
individual freedom and tolerance.
Without order and tradition, life would
be, in the words of Thomas Hobbes,
nasty, brutish and short
BIG THEMES IN CONSERVATISM:
DEFERENCE

The purpose of political


power is to create and
maintain good order.
This is best achieved
through continuity and
respect for traditional
institutions eg landed
interests, the family, the
church.
BIG THEMES IN CONSERVATISM:
INDIVIDUAL RESPONSIBILITY

The classic strivers v skivers


rhetoric of George Osborne
stems from classical
conservative beliefs in a
small state and personal,
rather than collective
responsibility.
ONE NATION CONSERVATIVES

Conservative Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804 -1881)


was the first one nation conservative. He sought to provide
state help for the poor. He felt the rich had a duty to help
the poor. This is sometimes described as paternalism

Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no


sympathy; who are as ignorant of each others habits, thoughts
and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or
inhabitants of different planets; the rich and the poor.

One Nation Conservatives do not seek equality but social


cohesion through support for state provision which can
create social mobility and a shared sense of national identity.
The Glasgow Effect
INDIVIDUALISTS: MARGARET THATCHER

Perhaps the most influential Conservative of the 20th


century, her governments lowered taxes, privatised
most of British industry and introduced free market
forces to almost every area of British life. She set out
to roll back the state.

Yet, while clearly she was an economic and political


conservative, she perhaps wasnt a social conservative.
UK society has been transformed since her time.

Thatcherism
PRIVATISATION

Margaret Thatchers conservative governments


believed that the dead hand of the state smothered
entrepreneurialism and initiative, creating a
dependency culture

So, state owned industries were privatised


Taxes were lowered in the belief that wealth would
trickle down.
CONSERVATIVE QUOTES

I think we've been through a period where too


many people have been given to understand
that if they have a problem, it's the
government's job to cope with it. 'I have a
problem, I'll get a grant.' 'I'm homeless, the
government must house me.' They're casting
their problem on society. And, you know, there is
no such thing as society. There are individual
men and women, and there are families. And no
government can do anything except through
people, and people must look to themselves
first. It's our duty to look after ourselves and
then, also to look after our neighbour. People
have got the entitlements too much in mind,
without the obligations. There's no such thing as
entitlement, unless someone has first met an
obligation Margaret Thatcher
ONE NATION CONSERVATISM MEETS
INDIVIDUALISTS

Theresa May is has tried to set out her brand of conservatism


One Nation, in support for social mobility, targeting aspirational working class voters
a traditional Burkean conservative in her support for traditional British institutions
(opposing Scottish independence and now supporting Brexit)
a New right individualist in support for austerity and welfare cuts

Theresa May
BLUE DOG CONSERVATISM

The term blue dog comes the conservative wing of the US Democrats. These
Democrats are in favour of social services but also self responsibility and low taxes.
Their working class roots and ability to relate to ordinary voters set them apart
from both privileged Republicans and tax and spend Democrats.

Hence Ruth Davidson.

Ruth Davidson