Phillip Blond’s heralding of the “Red Tory Moment” has continued to generate debate, with Geoffrey Wheatcroft suggesting in the Financial Times that Blond’s argument is indicative of a sea change in British political thought, comparable to Thatcherism’s toppling of James Callaghan in 1978: “Will a Tory victory signal something deeper than just throwing the rascals out, one more failed government disposed of by the electorate? Previous cases of “Callaghan’s law” were not just shifts in public mood, they were the outcome of deeper intellectual currents. In the new issue of Prospect magazine, under the slightly irritating headline “The Red Tory Moment,” Phillip Blond suggests that another is now flowing and that the Tories should return to “the tradition of communitarian civic conservatism.” And Mr Cameron himself spoke at Davos about the need for “capitalism with a conscience.” These could be real developments, or opportunistic reaction to circumstances, or perhaps both.”
Of course, at Prospect we would suggest that the “Red Tory” headline was an accurate and pertinent appraisal of Blond’s argument, rather than being irritating. Nonetheless, Wheatcroft went on to echo Blond’s call for a return to Burke’s radical conservatism:
The real prize may go to the party and leader who can defend free markets and free trade in terms of the greatest good of the greatest number while reminding us that there is such a thing as society, that it begins with little platoons, that we are selfish and selfless at once but that self-interest can always be enlightened. Come to think of it, that was what Hume, Smith and Burke were saying a while ago.