Slightly belatedly – after two postings and numerous links with other sites – here is an introduction to the Conservative History Journal blog. In fact, it is the blog of both the Journal and the Group and will, we hope, develop into a lively discussion forum of historical topics and ideas for publication and for meetings.

As you have seen, the first two postings are about the forthcoming publication and forthcoming meeting. But that is just the beginning. There will be postings on various subjects and, we hope, comments from readers.

And now to business: the next full issue of the Journal is due out in June and articles are needed by the end of April. The focus will be conservative (or Conservative) foreign policy and not just in the twentieth century. Of course, there will be other articles and reviews. Some are coming in, some have been promised but we are looking for more material.

The autumn issue, to be published in time for the Conservative Party Conference will focus on women in the conservative movement – a subject that has not received its due attention so far. That is about to change.

I was asked whether we wanted to limit ourselves to British conservatism. Most emphatically not. We want to look at conservatism and conservative movements in other countries, particularly those of the Anglosphere, since these have common aspects. But we need not stop even there. German or Russian conservatism may well have been very different from British or American but there are intriguing aspects there that need to be discussed.

You’ve heard of the fox and the hedgehog, well, here is the tale of the British fox and the French fox.

It would appear that the French fox was the winner in the final battle. Or was he? The two foxes, Harold Macmillan and Charles de Gaulle are the subject of Dr Peter Mangold’s latest book “The Almost Impossible Ally” (that’s de Gaulle, not Macmillan, though some in the Conservative Party might have disagreed).

Peter Mangold will also be speaking at the next meeting of the Conservative History Group, on Tuesday 25th April at 6.30 in the House of Commons, Committee Room 16.

Admission is free to members of the Conservative History Group. Others might like to take the opportunity to join. In any case, email Iain Dale at

Peter Mangold was himself a foreign policy practitioner in the past, as a diplomat and a journalist. He has written on British foreign policy before.

To give you an idea of his theme, here is a quote from the publisher’s announcement:

“Peter Mangold writes in arresting detail about the fascinating personal duel that shaped high politics and Anglo-French diplomacy. He portrays two of the most complex and skilful leaders of the post-war era, old friends from their association in Algiers during World War II: de Gaulle the dour, lofty moralist obsessed with high notions of France; and Macmillan, the canny, ambitious fixer, always the pragmatist seeking to get things done.

As Resident Minister, Allied Forces Headquarters in Algiers in 1943, Macmillan had done much to help de Gaulle, and protect him from Churchill's and Roosevelt's hostility. They next met in 1958, as leaders of their two countries, when Britain and France faced many similar problems ranging from decolonization and their determination to retain national Great Power status to relations with the impetuous Soviet leader, Nikita Khrushchev.

But while both seemed anxious to retain their old wartime connection, they were now rivals with very different views of the world. Divided by the Atlantic as much as the Channel, the two leaders disagreed fundamentally over America. De Gaulle sought the leadership of a Europe independent of the United States; the pro-American Macmillan talked of Britain as a 'bridge' between the two sides of the Atlantic.”

Come and hear the rest of it on the 25th. I shall be looking for a volunteer to review the book in the next issue of the Conservative History Journal, which will focus on conservative foreign policy. An excellent coincidence.

We begin this blog with an announcement. The Conservative History Group is about to publish a special issue of the Conservative History Journal - a single long essay on Sir Michael Hicks Beach, one of the longest serving Chancellors of the Exchequer and a prominent Conservative politician.

The paper is by T. G. Otte of the University of East Anglia and is entitled "Black Michael". Here is the opening paragraph:

"Sir Michael Hicks Beach, first Viscount (later Earl) St. Aldwyn, belongs to that category of Victorian and Edwardian politicians who have largely faded out of public memory. That his name should have only little resonance for even the historically informed public is surprising. Beach spent almost to the day exactly seven years at the head of the Treasury, beaten only by its current incumbent, with now over eight years, and David Lloyd George, who was chancellor for seven years and one months, with Nigel Lawson coming a somewhat distant third at six years and four months.

Alongside Lloyd George and Lawson, he remains the only chancellor to have introduced seven consecutive budgets between 1895 and 1902 ( only Gladstone managed eight and, so far, Gordon Brown, nine). Beach, then, was one of the longest serving Chancellors of the Exchequer since the midnineteenth century. He was a formidable politician of national standing, who helped to shape late-Victorian Conservative politics, but whose career also reflected some of conservatism’s inner tensions in this period."

The paper will be published end of next week (April 7). Well in time for the next meeting.

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