17 August 2009

Question for George Osborne

How can something conservative be progressive, when the words themselves have something of the oxymoron about them?

Here's another question: the origins of 'Right Wing' come from the start of the French Revolution, and the Legislative Assembly of 1791, in which those sitting on the right of the Chamber were generally the royalists, conservatives and moderates. How, then, can any party of the Right or even Centre-Right ever brand itself progressive?

Just a thought.


John M Ward said...

It could be similar to one of my own sayings (of many years):

"Embrace the [good] new, without sacrificing the [good] old."

Red Rag said...

I believe Osborne said he thought he had "got away" with his progressive speech within hearing distance of no other than Mandy.

Nice to see Osborne keeping up his job as being Labours best form of attack.

Will said...

John, isn't that more, "Traditional Values in a Modern Setting"?

RR, the problem for the Tories at the end of it all is that the best they have to offer is "We're not Labour". Sadly, the best Labour have to offer is "We're not the Tories" - even the NHS row with the US Right has been turned into a chance to brandish the Tory Stick - which makes me suspect that we're in for an ugly (and I daresay highly gaffe-prone nine months.

vavatch said...

Same reason so many lefties call themselves liberal when they feel violently opposed to every tenet of classical liberalism.

Mr Eugenides said...

Well, this is rather like saying that Labour always pursue policies that are helpful for the working classes because they are called "Labour". But, of course, they don't.

Nor does it really matter where the deputies sat in the 1790s, does it? That explains why people with those sorts of politics are called "right-wing". It doesn't impose a template on what their future policies may be.

If you look at a lot of policy areas at the moment - the size and role of the state, health, education and taxation, to take just a few - we can argue about how progressive the Tories really are, but there's little doubt that it's Labour who believe in conserving all or most of the current system.

Labour are the conservatives now...

Anonymous said...

Because "progressive" doesn't actually mean anything. It's just a word which people like the sound of. It's been used to describe parties of nearly all political hues. The Conservative in Canada are progressive, the Progress Party in Norway are Thatcherite.

Progressive generally means whatever the speaker thinks is good. I enjoy progressive ice cream, for example. Doesn't that sound much nicer than gelato?

Anonymous said...


Ted Harvey said...

Whatever Osborne said it was subsumed in the media by the subsequent little sour personal cattiness from previously twice-disgraced-now-Labour Lord Mandelson.

On the original point, the Right is on stronger ground when it sticks to the 'radical' posture.

'Radical' circumnavigates the right-left labels. The Right, moreover, at it best, has good claim to having championed and effected some fundamnetal radical reforms that were needed at various times in UK society - but that the Left could not countenance because of its innate conservatism (irony, irony)and its own sets of vested interests.

Talking about sour personal catiness, where's oor George? Is he still in hiding after his intemperate remarks about our idolised senior Army commanders?

The Armchair Sceptic (Wilted Rose) said...

Hey, but that's like saying, "How can a party of the left be Thatcherite?". And yet that is exactly what Blairite-cum-Brownite New Labour was and is.


- progressive definition, "A person who actively favors or strives for progress toward better conditions, as in society or government."

- conservative definition, "Favoring traditional views and values; tending to oppose change."

Note "tending". Change is often necessary, and it is certainly vital to achieve socio-economic progress.

So Osborne and Blond are right that progressive conservatism is achievable, while Labour failed to achieve progress.

Anonymous said...

I think the Tories in Scotland used to call themselves the Progressives in Council elections, while being the Conservative and Unionist party at GEs.
They did not appear to be particularly progressive, since their main aim in life was to keep "the rates" down.
"Progressive" I believe was chosen to counter the charge of being "conservative", but there was no discernable difference between the two.
Plus ca change.....

James Higham said...

Didn't you ask that some time earlier?