Posted by Helen Friday, December 05, 2008

As promised, here is the Editorial of the new Conservative History Journal, which is now with the printer so can be considered to be in existence. It outlines plans for the future and our readers might be interested to read it on the blog as well. When the Journal is actually visible in hard copy the table of contents will go up as well.

“The best laid schemes o' mice an' men/Gang aft agley”. So said Robert Burns and, though he was hardly a conservative in the usual sense of the word, one cannot really argue with him. The plan to produce a larger Conservative History Journal than its predecessors has actually come to fruition; the plan to produce it a little earlier in the year did not. On the other hand, this issue will be the perfect Christmas reading for all those who are interested in various aspects of the Conservative Party’s history.

There are articles about such diverse subjects as Conservative suffragists and the possible Jacobite connections of the early Tory leaders; there are studies of the reputations of Neville Chamberlain and Benjamin Disraeli; a new analysis is presented of Enoch Powell’s famous speech and of the now almost forgotten Ernest Marples; above all, there are articles about various aspects of the Thatcher and post-Thatcher years. Something for everyone, is the editorial hope.

A section had to be dropped from the Journal for lack of space. It was my intention to write about recently published books that could be of interest to conservative historians and historians of conservatism as well as people interested in conservative history. These were not going to be full reviews but a paragraph or so about such books as Jean M. Lucas’s book about Conservative Agents, “Between the Thin Blue Lines” or Giles Hunt’s “The Duel” about that infamous encounter between Canning and Castlereagh. My intention was to expand the Journal’s horizon by discussing briefly Richard Pipes’s “Russian Conservatism and Its Critics”. There was no space for this wonderful idea, so it will have to be transferred to the Conservative History Journal blog (

The blog has taken up a certain amount of my time and will take up even more as I try to turn it into the pre-eminent site for all those who are interested in conservative history. Admittedly, my definition of conservative history has been rather wide but that has not stopped hits from growing and many interesting comments from being posted on it (as well as some trollish ones that had to be removed). Among other strands in it will be the proposed “Books of interest … to those interested in conservative history. Anyone who has ideas of publications to be included is encouraged to let me know about them.

Let us now turn to future plans. I have said this before in editorials but this time I say it with real feeling: the Journal will improve in its punctuality and, indeed, diversify. The plan for early 2009 is to produce a supplement that concentrates entirely on what is the most exciting recent historical and political idea: the Anglosphere. I am collecting articles of 2,000 – 3,000 words that look at the subject of economic and political developments that are specific to Britain or to the way those ideas have developed in the Anglospheric countries. Of course, if someone wants to write a knowledgeable piece on why the Anglospheric ideas are completely erroneous, they are welcome to do so. I shall be happy to include it.

Later in the year, there will be a Conservative History Journal of the kind we are more used to (though, perhaps, used to is not quite the right expression, given the editor’s shocking dilatoriness) that will once again have articles about the Conservative Party, its politicians, the debates and ideas that could be found in its vicinity. There is no editorial policy on what conservatism means; Tory history and Tory ideas are as welcome as more liberal and libertarian ones. The Conservative Party has been a “broad church” for a long time and conservative history must be equally broad.

Let us not forget that there are conservative ideas and movements in other countries as well. Some of them will be covered in the Anglosphere supplement; others can be written about in the Journal itself. There is a third outlet. Part of the blog, I hope, will be contributions by other people. So far I have received two very different ones, which were posted within hours of being sent to me. One was a review of a play in London, the other an eye-witness account of the recent American elections. Other contributions will be very welcome and I do credit the authors. Longer pieces may then be reprinted in the forthcoming issue of the Journal.

Plenty of ideas for all of us to get going with. The Conservative History Journal in all its manifestations should have a bright future.

I am looking forward to responses and suggestions.


  1. Anonymous Says:
  2. I like the decidedly Whiggish sentiments with which you end your piece. Would it be possible to have more on countries that would not normally be associated with Conservativism? You mention a book on Russia, and similarly it would be interesting to know if anyone could write about, say, France or Germany and what conservative thought there means or has meant.

    Before you ask - no I am not volunteering. I am hoping to be a conceptual artist on this, getting all the credit for the idea while someone else does the work.

  3. Helen Says:
  4. Whiggish sentiments? Harrumph.

    However, the conceptual ideas are good. Yes, I would like to spread out and include conservative ideas from non-Anglospheric countries as well, different thought they might be from what we are used to. Liberal-conservative ones might be closer to what counts for conservative in Britain and (largely) the United States.

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