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By Peter Dorey

Safety of inequality has constantly been a center precept of the Conservative social gathering in nice Britain. but the Conservatives have loved nice electoral good fortune in a British society marked through frequent inequalities of wealth and source of revenue. Peter Dorey the following examines the highbrow and political arguments which Conservatives use to justify inequality. He additionally considers debates among Conservatives over how a lot inequality is fascinating or appropriate. may still inequality be limitless, in an effort to advertise liberty, incentives and rewards? Or should still inequality be saved inside of convinced bounds to avoid social breakdown and political upheaval? eventually, he examines why a few much less wealthy sections of British society have still supported the Conservatives rather than political events selling equality. This e-book could be an enormous source for college students and commentators of latest British politics.

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According to the American neo-liberal economist, Milton Friedman, whose ideas seemingly influenced many senior Conservatives from the late 1970s onwards: ‘One cannot be both an egalitarian … and a liberal’ because, inevitably, ‘equality comes sharply into conflict with freedom’ (Friedman, 1962: 195). In this context, Conservatism venerates liberty infinitely more than equality of incomes or wealth. While Conservatives readily endorse such principles as equality before the law and before God, and some of them endorse equality of opportunity (discussed below), they are all unequivocally How Conservatives Explain and Justify Inequality 19 opposed to economic equality, firmly believing that liberty is both far more desirable in principle, and much more readily attainable in practice.

They can look at the present as it is, and then in the light of experience seek to improve it. (Gilmour, 1978: 159) The same year saw Quinton assert that ‘the kind of knowledge that is needed for the successful management off human affairs, is not be found in the theoretical speculations of isolated thinkers, but in the historically accumulated social experience of the community as a whole’ (Quinton, 1978: 16–17. See also Feiling, 1930: 8). How Conservatives Explain and Justify Inequality 35 One of the most recent reiterations of this stance is Oliver Letwin’s assertion that ‘A Conservative disposition is … sceptical about the ability of the state to pull levers and make things happen; and it means always trying to address what is conceived as the present rather than some millenarian dream’ (Letwin, 2009).

Such views were evidently shared by Gilmour, who observed that ‘Since men are unequal, they can only be made equal, economically, by being treated unequally’ (Gilmour, 1978: 176). In other words, some Conservatives maintain that to pursue equality on the basis of social justice would itself mean treating some people (those who would otherwise have deservedly earned or acquired more) unjustly and unequally. Conservatism as an empiricist philosophy This is not the occasion on which to embark upon a debate about whether Conservatism is non-ideological, as most Conservatives insist (see, for example, Cecil, 1912: ch.

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