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Title: The emergence of libertarian conservatism in Britain, 1867-1914
Author: Paynter, Alastair
ISNI:       0000 0004 7234 2456
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis considers conservatism’s response to Collectivism during a period of crucial political and social change in the United Kingdom and the Anglosphere. The familiar political equipoise was disturbed by the widening of the franchise and the emergence of radical new threats in the form of New Liberalism and Socialism. Some conservatives responded to these changes by emphasising the importance of individual liberty and the preservation of the existing social structure and institutions. In fighting against Collectivism they were brought into an alliance with both disillusioned Old Liberals, and the more radical Individualist followers of Herbert Spencer. This thesis will engage with an existing historiographical debate which questions how authentically conservative this form of libertarian politics actually was. William Gladstone’s open support of Irish Home Rule in 1886 was ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back’ for many Old Liberals who had grown increasingly disillusioned with the direction of their party since at least the start of Gladstone’s second ministry in 1880. Naturally many of these émigrés brought much of their Old Liberal principles into the Unionist fold. But was libertarian conservatism merely classical liberalism repackaged? In examining the interaction between political thought and practical politics this thesis will attempt to go beyond the limited scope of politics as ideology, and assess the underlying frame of mind, from and through which political ideas are formed and filtered. It is structured around various lenses—ethics, empiricism, laissez-faire and aristocracy—all of which formed important aspects of the libertarian conservative frame of mind. The final chapter will use Australia as a case study to assess the existence and applicability of libertarian conservatism in an Anglo-Saxon settler colony. The thesis concludes by arguing that while it was certainly bolstered by classical liberal rhetoric and argument, a clear traditionalist conservative mindset formed the basis of libertarian conservatism.
Supervisor: Conlin, Jonathan ; Brown, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available