21. THE LAND

IN a famous election address which rightly won him the privilege of representing Oxford University, Mr. A. P. Herbert, as he then was, concluded with the following words:

"Agriculture. I know nothing about agriculture."

I should gladly have begun and concluded this chapter with the same words. Unhappily, as I shall hope to show, this would not be quite true, and, even if it were, the book I wrote, however Conservative it were in tone, would cease to be a book about Conservatism if it did not contain a full chapter on the land.

In a sense it is an advantage from this point of view that the chapter should be written by one who has no claim to be an agricultural expert. These abound in the Conservative Party, and like all enthusiasts are apt to be a little intolerant of those who do not share to the full their expert knowledge and at the same time absolutely furious if each one of their own propositions is not accepted.

Nevertheless no book about Conservatism would be complete without an account of the Conservative attitude to the land, for the simple truth is that there would have been no Conservative Party to-day had it not been for the consistent championship of agriculture by the Conservative Party from 1846 onwards, and that but for this championship, however apparently unsuccessful, there would have been little or no British agriculture either.

But the case is more profound than this. Agriculture was the occupation which to some extent determined the attitude of Conservatives to industry and indeed to politics in general, and it is often the ignorance of agriculture (in which some of the deepest industrial problems are reduced to simpler terms) which makes the Conservative viewpoint difficult to put over to a city audience. It is an attitude to the agricultural industry which explains and defines more simply than in any other case the Conservative approach to the profit motive.

Conservatives, as is well known, have no fault to find with the profit motive as such. All farming in this country is carried on with a view to profit. But nevertheless it is a complete travesty of the Conservative attitude to contend that profit is the sole

-119-

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The Case for Conservatism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 3
  • Contents 5
  • Part I. Preliminary 7
  • 1. the Philosophy of Conservatism 7
  • Part II. Basic Conservative Ideas 16
  • 2. the Religious Basis of Society 16
  • 3. the Organic Theory of Society 24
  • 4. Country 31
  • 5. Commonwealth and Empire 36
  • 6. International Order 41
  • 7. Authority 44
  • 8. the Liberal Heresy 48
  • 9. the Socialist Heresy 54
  • 10. Liberty 60
  • 11. the Idea of Law 68
  • 12. Natural Law 70
  • 13. the Rule of Law 76
  • 14. Progress 83
  • 15. Continuity 86
  • 16. Enterprise 89
  • 17. Incentives, Liberal and Socialist 91
  • 18. Property 97
  • 19. Trading for Profit 103
  • 20. Competition, Big Business and Public Ownership 107
  • 21. the Land 119
  • 22. Trade Unions and Co-Operatives 125
  • 23. the Politics of Abundance 133
  • 24. Education 143
  • Part III. the Socialist Case Examined 147
  • 25. Introduction to Part III 147
  • 26. Profit and Use 150
  • 27. Public Ownership 154
  • 28. Planning 163
  • 29. Inequality of Income 167
  • 30. Inequality of Wealth 174
  • 31. Poverty--Its Cause and Cure 181
  • 32. War 189
  • 33. Standard of Life 192
  • 34. Housing 197
  • 35. Public Health 200
  • 36. Social Insurance 202
  • 37. Unemployment--The Facts 207
  • 38. Unemployment--Cause and Cure 213
  • Part IV. Policy To-Day and To-Morrow 225
  • 39. General Election, 1945 225
  • 40. Foreign Affairs 235
  • 41. Social Policy 250
  • 42. Economic Policy 260
  • 43. Food and Agriculture 277
  • 44. Nationalisation 284
  • 45. Britain at the Cross Roads 296
  • 46. the Politics of the Next Election 303
  • 47. Epilogue 311
  • Index 315
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