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Study Notes

Traditional Conservatism

AQA, Edexcel

Last updated 19 Jun 2020

Traditional conservative are committed to hierarchic and paternalistic values.

There are various strands of thought within all ideological movements. With regards to conservatism, the main division is that between the one-nation perspective and the New Right.

Traditional conservatism is relatively insignificant within the field of British politics. As the term clearly implies, traditional conservatism is the oldest format of conservative thought. Traditional conservatism is associated strongly with the concept of hierarchy. In order for society to function effectively, there must be some form of hierarchy. Individuals within society need to be aware of their place within and accept their duties accordingly. For instance, those who hold the highest status have a responsibility to look after those further down the social scale. Such ideas later developed into the concept of noblesse oblige, one of the fundamental ideas within the mindset of conservatism.

Traditional conservatism is rooted in a time when very few people had the vote. The ideas and values associated with traditional conservatives gradually evolved in order to respond to an expanding franchise. This led to the emergence of the one-nation school of thought. The key figure to consider here is Benjamin Disraeli; a man who did much to develop the party and ensure that it could reach out towards those enfranchised as a result of the Great Reform Act. Disraeli also did much to recast the party and broaden its appeal towards the rapidly-emerging bourgeois capitalists, a constituency that remains loyal to the Tories.

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