Latest Issue

Patron saint of the big society

Edmund Burke is widely regarded as the “father of conservatism” but his ideas do not belong to one tradition—and could provide an inspiration for David Cameron’s big society

By David Marquand   October 2010

A Gilray cartoon from 1790. Burke, holding a crown and cross, is menacing an English supporter of the French revolution

So far, Edmund Burke has hardly figured in the debate over David Cameron’s big society. It is time to include him. Burke died in 1797, a disappointed man. In a political career of 30 years he had championed four great causes: conciliation with the disaffected American colonies instead of repression; the impeachment of Warren Hastings, governor-general of Bengal, for extortion, cruelty and injustice; an attempt to launch a principled ideological crusade against revolutionary France; and a decades-long campaign against…

Register today to continue reading

You’ve hit your limit of three articles in the last 30 days. To get seven more, simply enter your email address below.

You’ll also receive our free e-book Prospect’s Top Thinkers 2020 and our newsletter with the best new writing on politics, economics, literature and the arts.

Prospect may process your personal information for our legitimate business purposes, to provide you with newsletters, subscription offers and other relevant information.

Click here to learn more about these purposes and how we use your data. You will be able to opt-out of further contact on the next page and in all our communications.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to

More From Prospect