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The new politicsLiberal Conservatism or same old Tories?$
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Peter King

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781847428547

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847428547.001.0001

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The lure of progress

The lure of progress

Chapter:
(p.49) Two The lure of progress
Source:
The new politics
Author(s):

Peter King

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781847428547.003.0003

Progress is the idea that human society and human beings themselves can improve to a higher stage of development, and if not exactly attain the perfect society, aspires to something near to it. John Gray has argued that the Conservatives have sound reasons to reject the idea of progress. He also argues that there is lack of means to measure progress and improvement in human affairs. For the Conservatives, being progressive is not anti-conservative, but rather a means of ensuring the continued relevance of tried and tested values. This chapter discusses what these values are and describes the traditions of small ‘c’ conservatism and in what ways are they are compatible with progress. To understand the nature of conservatism, it explains if there is really any merit in claiming to be both ‘new’ and the ‘same old Tories’. It also describes the perception of progress. Progress is seldom actually achieved because politicians have no real interest in defining or in limiting progress. A progressive politician need not actually make any progress. All they need do, as New Labour certainly succeeded in doing, is to appropriate the label and prevent others from using it.

Keywords:   Conservatism, progress, politics, New Labour, Conservative

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