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Specification:

  • AQA Component 3, Section 3.3.1.2: Conservatism

  • Edexcel Component 1.2: Conservatism: core ideas and principles; differing views and tensions within conservatism.

Click to read the article below, watch the explanatory video within it and then answer the questions:

Tories take an unconservative approach to conservatism

Background: what you need to know

The article discusses the concept of conservatism in relation to the policy U-turns of the Johnson government. This opens up a wider question: is conservatism a flexible set of attitudes rather than a coherent ideology? How can we tell, for example, what a genuinely conservative approach to taxation should look like?

Ultimately the nature of conservatism is dictated by circumstances. So, faced with changing public expectations after the global pandemic, conservative politicians have adopted policies which once seemed ‘unconservative’. The essence of conservatism is a capacity for reinvention.

Question in the style of Edexcel Politics Paper 1

  • To what extent do different conservatives agree on the role of the state?

    You must use appropriate thinkers you have studied to support your answer. [24 marks]

    TIP: The article quotes one of the key conservative thinkers identified by the examination boards: Michael Oakeshott. Ensure that you refer to his ideas together with those of at least one of the other specified thinkers: Thomas Hobbes, Edmund Burke, Ayn Rand, Robert Nozick.

Question in the style of AQA Politics Paper 3

  • Explain and analyse three ways in which conservative thinkers have viewed the role of the state. [9 marks]

Graham Goodlad, St John’s College

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