In light of recent events in British politics, where ‘non-partisan’ conservative political practices are threatened with renewed calls for change, a new project—in keeping with the ideals and aspirations of the Disraeli-Macdonald Institute—has been formed to promote and defend the conventions of the United Kingdom Parliament: the Salisbury Initiative for Parliamentary Traditions.
In the lead-up to the 2010 General Election, the Conservative party sought to re-establish its rapport with the British people—as a political party for the twenty-first century—by emphasising its progressive programme for Britain’s future. Focussing on ‘progressive means for conservative ends’, Conservatives are intent on addressing the ‘broken society’ and ‘broken politics’.
While there are many laudable improvements that can be realised through progressive measures, the Salisbury Initiative was established to act as a safeguard for the conservative principles that must form the core of the Conservative party.
The necessity of buttressing conservative beliefs has risen in importance, in consideration of the coalition government that has been formed between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats to create what some analysts have called a ‘progressive alliance’. With no wish to undermine the strong, stable government this coalition brings forth, there is equally a desire to remain true to the tenets of Conservatism.
While there are many figures in the history of the Conservative party who embody these cherished principles, the figure of the 3rd Marquess of Salisbury was especially poignant: Lord Salisbury is renowned for his scepticism of the true long-term benefits of institutional ‘innovation’—serving, at times, as a reactionary caricature—and of his faith in history as a reliable counsellor when undertaking salutary political reform.
The Salisbury Initiative is an ally of the Conservative party and seeks neither to undermine its period in office nor its continuing success. ‘The complaints of a friend are things very different from the invectives of an enemy,’ wrote Edmund Burke. ‘It is our duty rather to palliate his errors and defects, or to cast them into the shade, and industriously to bring forward any good qualities that he may happen to possess.’ But, as Burke, explained:
When his safety is effectually provided for, it then becomes the office of a friend to urge his faults and vices with all the energy of enlightened affection, to paint them in their most vivid colours, and to bring the moral patient to a better habit. Thus I think with regards to individuals; thus I think with regard to antient and respected governments and order of men.
This is the intent of the Salisbury Initiative: ‘A spirit of reformation is never more consistent with itself, than when it refuses to be rendered the means of destruction.’
The objectives of the Initiative are simple:
- Support for constitutional monarchy;
- Support for the British constitution and Parliament—namely, the House of Lords and the House of Commons—and a defence of their arrangements, practices, and the political values they uphold; and
- Support for traditional conservative political principles: while necessary reform is a salubrious undertaking, and a fair appraisal of progress underpins evolutionary development, a foundation of enduring principles is at the core of Conservatism.
Plans are to highlight articles and news items relating to constitutional and parliamentary reform—which will be archived on the Initiative’s ‘News’ page—on this blog. Readers are encouraged to forward links which touch on SI’s mandate, and to follow SI on Facebook and Twitter.
Many thanks, tell your friends, and please visit the Salisbury Initiative often!