December 03, 2007

The merits of Conservatism

Having spent my last post berating young Mr Sinclair, it feels appropriate to commend him and this post gives me a worthy opportunity. Matt argues that political competence can be defined thus

I would call someone incompetent if they make a policy decision that led to problems that could easily have been foreseen but that took them unawares (expected problems aren't incompetence, more often they are trade-offs).


Matt is entirely right and what he has captured here is a key strength of conservatism- caution. One of the main intellectual attractions of conservative thinkers from Burke to Popper is the emphasis on caution and thinking through change rather than implementing it swiftly. Amongst the major curses of Mr Blair's government and previous British governments have been their neglect of process, a good conservative understands that process is vital because it means that you go through checks so that hopefully you do think through the things that Matt discusses. Rule by whim exposes you to more of these errors- its not a good thing and Matt is entirely right to call it incompetence.

4 comments:

Phil A said...

It may be conservatism with a small c, but not particularly notably demonstrated by Mr Major’s government, thought admittedly virtually completely absent in New Labour.

I would be more inclined to view it as careful common sense though – Still lamentably absent from the current government though.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

I third this, Tiberius.

Witchfinder General said...

Does your conservative caution include: rail privatisation, poll tax, removing of credit controls, dash for gas, privatisation of public utilities, creation of a social underclass, mass unemployment, creation of a service-led economy, balance of payments deficits etc, etc?

Obviously all great ‘achievements’ and the result of a long-term, well thought out process....

Vino S said...

As the witchfinder-general points out, the Conservative Party has become less conservative over the years and has moved towards taking an abstract, textbook, free-marketeer position [except when it would clearly disadvantage middle-class voters].