Lots of commenters were unhappy at yesterday's remarks by George Osborne about libertarianism. Over at CentreRight Iain Murray posted an eloquent defence of libertarianism. It was probably unfortunate that Mr Osborne chose to use the term libertarianism but he was trying to do something important. There is a long-standing impression out there that the Conservative Party is the party that leaves people alone when they fall behind. It's an unfair characterisation of the Conservative Party (and, for that matter, libertarianism) and David Cameron (at last year's Party Conference) and George Osborne are determined to counter it.
People need to know that the Conservative Party is not a party that walks by on the other side when people are hurting. That's a particularly important task during tough economic times. The Tory leadership is determined to say that the party of Wilberforce, Shaftesbury and Disraeli will rally the so-called armies of compassion to help the vulnerable. The compassionate carers of first resort should be families and charities and friendly societies (at which most libertarians would vigorously nod) but the state where necessary (less nodding). One of my favourite (and under-used) David Cameron expressions is a commitment to build a nation of the second chance.
Fraser Nelson addresses this issue at Coffee House, reminding us that Margaret Thatcher also took great care to distance her policies from the more extreme laissez-faire ideas.