I’m seldom at a loss for how best to write up news, but find myself in some difficulty this morning. This is because no words of mine can adequately describe the debt that conservatism in Britain owes to Roger Scruton – philosopher, moralist, novelist, barrister, composer, conservationist, conservative and campaigner.
Scruton’s conservatism is very much of the English Tory flavour, and he is uncommon among modern philosophers in the breadth of his interests, rarer still in having the ability to project and popularise them, and even more unusual in his interest in conservative political organisation.
He was one of the founders of the original Conservative Philosophy Group during the 1970s and has taken the lead in reviving it more recently. The Tory in him may sometimes give up hope that conservative ideas will be turned into conservative deeds by Conservative Governments. But his inner Leninist has not yet abandoned the struggle.
ConservativeHome has long argued that Scruton should be honoured with a peerage, but he would doubtless not accept one unless it were hereditary. At any rate, someone in Downing Street may have been listening, because we learn today that he is to be knighted. That will do very nicely (at least for us).
To speak of a Conservative movement may be a contradiction in terms on paper, but it none the less exists in practice. Scruton is one of its leading members, and I can’t help seeing this honour as a recognition by Number Ten that the movement as well as the Party matters.
He was also made use of by the last Government on its housing design panel. So let’s sound a cheer for David Cameron this morning, then, amidst the boos he has received recently. And many congratulations to Scruton – though I suspect he would willingly swap his knighthood for a British vote on June 23 to leave the European Union.
9am update: Reggie is indisposed after a convivial evening in one of his favourite hostelries, the Reckless Remainer. But on his behalf and ours we offer a long round of applause also for Desmond Swayne, shortly-to-be Sir Desmond – Cameron loyalist and leaver both, not to mention all-round good egg.