Group Photo outside of Houses of Parliament

What can we learn from the best thinkers on the right, globally, about the future of politics and policymaking? The world seems stuck in the inflection point of the last few years, with domestic turmoil in democracies leading principally to polarisation. But for countries committed to democratic governance, can a new consensus be forged, within which parties compete for political power? What could the contribution of the political right be to such a new order?

A new project at the Blavatnik School, 'International Perspectives on Conservatism’, led by Tom Simpson, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy, with the assistance of Dr Madeleine Armstrong, will explore the principles, evolution, and contemporary relevance of conservatism. This initiative seeks to foster a deeper understanding of what conservatism stands for and how it can contribute to the stability, prosperity, and security of democratic societies. The project will run through to 2025 and include a series of public events and talks with leading conservative voices from around the world, culminating with the publication of an edited volume.

Alongside the project, there is an accompanying course for the School’s Master of Public Policy students, which began with a trip to the UK Houses of Parliament, to connect students with leading centre-right policymakers and provide real-world insights into conservative policymaking.

Speakers included prominent conservative thinkers from across the board. Rob Colvile, Director of the Centre for Policy Studies, provided a historical overview of UK conservatism and discussed contemporary issues such as the housing crisis. His insights set the stage for understanding the challenges and opportunities facing the Conservative Party today.

Another speaker, Dr Munira Mirza, CEO of Civic Future, highlighted the crucial role of education in leadership and the blending of liberal and conservative values, particularly in supporting vulnerable populations. Her talk inspired lively discussions among the students about the cultural dynamics within modern conservatism.

The final speaker, Dr Danny Kruger, Conservative MP for Devizes, shared his experiences in government and the influence of Edmund Burke’s political philosophy on his views. He also introduced the New Social Covenant Unit, established to promote policies strengthening families and communities for a more connected and sustainable life, and its emphasis on helping the vulnerable, aligning with Dr Tom Simpson’s research focus on the contributions of conservative thought to societal stability and cohesion. Nicholas Fabbri, MPP student from Australia, described the day as “one of the highlights of the programme,” praising the rich discussions and practical insights.

The project will continue with a speaker series featuring global thought leaders like Professor Robert George from Princeton University, renowned for his work in natural law, ethics, and civil liberties, and Lord Jonathan Sumption from Oxford University, an acclaimed historian and former Supreme Court Justice known for his extensive writings on history and law, both celebrated for their contributions to conservative thought and public discourse.

Find out more about the International Perspectives on Conservatism project.