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Reflections on Edmund Burke – The Sydney Institute

Personable and thoughtful, he also has a cavalier streak, such as his decision to lead the largest Tory rebellion over, of all things, House of Lords reform. The prime minister was so furious he gave him a verbal head-butt in the corridor. But only a few weeks ago reconciliation was engineered, with Norman invited into a reshuffled Downing Street policy unit.

He repaid the debt by defending the public spirit of Old Etonians.

Edmund Burke mini lecture

Burke is the role model for Norman and for his breed of conservatism. It is not dissimilar to Cam's big society — the vaguely formulated idea that communities would be enhanced by more volunteering and genteel social responsibility.


Norman calls it "social value", in which tradition, the non-belligerent practice of religion, duty and "modesty" are brought to the fore. Public service is beneficial to all concerned. According to Burke, property rights are essential to a "Ciceronian" virtuous society, while egalitarianism is just another manifestation of statist interference.

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In Burke's world and Norman's too it matters less who holds the power, but how it is exercised. This absorbing book gathers pace, and relevance, as it goes along — an important contribution to the annals of conservative thought. Navigating through Locke, Hobbes, Rousseau and more, Norman is adept at locating his subject.

Reading his birthday memoir is like chatting with him on a lazy afternoon in the pavilion as he reminisces about matches of the past and his encounters with old friends and the famous — he has met the Queen no fewer than 27 times. Among the forgotten stories of World War II are those of the men who deserted, in surprisingly large numbers.

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On the Allied side, , British servicemen and 50, Americans, according to the author, though only one man, a U. It was not always cowardice that made them unable or unwilling to face the harsh realities of modern warfare. Richard Stableford 's review Sep 13, In fact, Jesse very kindly signed it. Burke was an MP for Bristol in to There is a statue of him in the city centre which has featured in a couple of historic walks that I have co-led.

The book is divided into 2 sections, Burke's life and his thought. I really enjoyed the first, which gave a detailed look not only at his life, politics, writings and causes, but also gave a brilliant snapshot of the political life of the later 18th Century.

Edmund Burke

I have never found politics so interesting! The second part didn't grab me so much, but I am a history buff, so to be fair this probably says more about me than this part of the book. I hope to do a blog post about Burke at some point and if I do I will include a link to it in this review.