As avid Prospect followers will be aware, this month’s cover story by Phillip Blond, heralding a the birth of the “Red Tory moment,” has sparked heated debate in many quarters. For instance, in the Guardian this morning, Madeleine Bunting has the best part of a page given to discussing Phillip Blond’s ideas. Bunting doesn’t mention Prospect, which is fair enough. Perhaps more surprisingly, though, she doesn’t even manage to find the space to mention Blond’s employers, the think tank Demos. Indeed, she has to go into quite a contortion not to mention them: talking about Blond’s previous job (but not his current one) and quoting a speech from a (Demos) event without mentioning that either. Far be it for us to speculate, but the reason seems rather too likely to be lingering bad feeling over Bunting’s abortive couple of weeks as the head of the very same think tank a few years back. She arrived at Demos, and—so the rumours have it—quickly engendered a staff revolt, had a set to with the trustees, and promptly walked out herself. The official version—still on the Demos website—is a little more generous towards Bunting than she seemingly wants to be to her former employers.
Such minor tiffs aside, Prospect this month will continue its gavel-to-gavel coverage of the debate about Blond’s intriguing ideas with a week-long symposium of response articles: a different response from leading thinkers every day this week, to which Blond himself will respond to—and readers should weigh in likewise. Today’s article is from academic and Tory watcher Kieron O’Hara, author of After Blair: David Cameron and the Conservative Tradition. O’Hara takes Blond to task for sending Adam Smith to the “naughty step, along with Mill and Gladstone,” and warns of the dangers of ignoring the merits of liberalism. “We want the new communities to turn against banks and faceless business, not gays or those from ethnic minorities,” O’Hara writes says. “Will this vision worry women who feel liberalism has helped advance their independence?” Let us know what you think. Later this week, former Conservative advisor Rupert Darwall, David Green, director of Civitas, and Catherine Fieschi from the British Council will all elbow in on the debate too.