There have been extended periods, from the early 1960s onwards, when it has taken moral courage to stand up and be counted as a British conservative. Almost all of the institutions that enable public debate and engagement – universities, the BBC, the wider education establishment and the relevant parts of the Civil Service – have fallen under the control of the liberal Left. No matter what government was elected, a tough-minded and highly disciplined progressive elite has been in charge. This elite has been ruthless in imposing its doctrines and making sure that the relevant placemen were appointed to key positions. The fundamental assumption of this new ruling class is that government is benign. It does not like or understand freedom. It has extended its control far beyond the classical liberal functions of the state (which did not reach much beyond defence of the realm and maintenance of law and order).
Oborne can be wrong-headed at times on certain things – his veneration of the old BBC is something I just don’t agree with – but this is a nice tribute. I met Professor Minogue a few times but did not really know him all that well. He ranks alongside Roger Scruton and Professor Anthony Flew as one of those academics whom I have met that I regard very highly indeed. Alas, of that trio, only the fox-hunting Prof. Scruton is with us (and hopefully still around for a long time to come).