I had tried my best to avoid Philip Blond and his brand of red Toryism. Having overheard him interviewed on the radio once or twice, I was far from convinced that he offered anything much worth pondering upon. However, as an avid reader of CATO Unbound, I was finally forced to deal with his ideas. More's the pity.
The problems he highlights are convincing enough: civil society is in tatters, crony capitalism and the bully state. Even the ‘enabling state’ as he broadly defines it would be markedly less pernicious than what we have now. Yet this is all rather unoriginal stuff and really not worthy of a think tank.
Yet, it is not all bland, some or it is wrong too. His mischaracterisation of libertarianism would make anyone moderately versed in the literature deeply frustrated. In Shattered Society, an article for The American Conservative, he suggests the following: “Those who construe the libertarian individual as the center of current rightist thought actually draw upon an extreme Left conception that finds its original expression in Rousseau, who held that society was primordial imprisonment.” This is patent nonsense. Libertarians don’t have a problem with society, it's the government that's the problem.
Worse, when we get down to cold hard policies we can see what red Toryism is offering. According to the Res Publica blog, the government should force alcohol prices up, increase banking regulations and much else besides.
Ultimately, it looks as though red Toryism doesn't trust people to be free. Yet the dead and dying institutions that Mr Blond pines for were destroyed and are being destroyed by the growth of the state and the only way to get them back is to allow the freedom that allowed them to flourish in the first place.