Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Do conservatives automatically believe in the monarchy?

There's an interesting piece at ConservativeHome: Andrew Lilico: Should we care about the demise of the constitutional monarchy? which does provoke my above question.

The simplest answer would be "no but it looks otherwise". Both individual conservatives and conservative parties in many parts of the world are not seeking the establishment or restoration of monarchies and in some countries conservatives are actively seeking the end to monarchy (e.g. Australia).

In the UK some try to claim the Conservative Party is an inherently monarchist party, but given that the monarchy is never an issue in party politics here, no-one seems to have examined whether this support is just a traditional "it ain't broke, don't fix it", "it's not a priority to get rid of" or a genuine reverence for monarchy. When at meetings with other party members we've been asked to try to define what a "conservative" is, I've only ever heard one person out of many mention the monarchy at all in their response.

There is a fundamental difference between adherence to a concept for its own sake and resisting unnecessary change. Conservatism is traditionally the latter, not the former.


Chris Palmer said...

Historically the Conservative party is descended from the Tory party which opposed the Exclusion Bill and supported the Monarchy in the 17th century. In that respect, you could argue that the party is inherently monarchist.

Tim Roll-Pickering said...

Parties often go through shifts in policy and emphasis over the years - just look at the changing attitudes to free trade/protectionism throughout the party's history. Nobody joins the party because of what position was taken several centuries ago.

And it's hard to trace a single Tory Party from the 17th century through to the 1830s. The first and second had similar features though, including especial loyalty to the crown, but one of the key changes when the Tories were replaced by the Conservative Party was when they found themselves at odds with William IV on reform - at this point they stopped being "king's loyal followers" and developed as a party in their own right.


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