GUARDIAN: My hero: Edmund Burke

"Edmund Burke was one of the most gifted, original and complex people ever to sit in the House of Commons. He still defies classification. Today, he is widely seen as the "father of conservatism". I think that is blinkered nonsense and I passionately dissent from it. John Morley, the Liberal politician and man of letters, wrote an admiring biography of Burke. The great liberal historian Lord Acton thought he belonged with Macaulay and Gladstone as one of the three greatest British liberals. Gladstone himself saw Burke's writings as a "magazine of wisdom".

No one can deny that there was a conservative side to Burke. He believed in property, hierarchy and tradition. These values helped to inspire his thunderous denunciation of the French revolution, Reflections on the Revolution in France. But his conservatism had nothing in common with the individualism of Margaret Thatcher and George W Bush. Thatcher's notorious aphorism that there is "no such thing as society" would have horrified him. For him, society was a partnership between "those who are living, those who are dead, and those who are to be born"."


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