Friday, January 30, 2015

Requiem for UK Tory Keynesianism

It did once exist in Britain’s Conservative/Tory party, and here and there a few odd supporters can still be found amongst modern Conservative journalists/commentators, as I note here. In the past and recent past of the Tory party, both Harold Macmillan and Ian Gilmour seem to have been, broadly speaking, Keynesian Tories.

But the use of Keynesian economics, or certainly full-employment Keynesian policy, has long since departed from Conservative government economic policy, just as it has – with the notable exception of about 2008–2010 – in New Labour.

One of the few survivors of the old Tory party is Sir Peter Tapsell.

Last year he gave an interview to the UK Telegraph in which he described how he had been a Tory Keynesian and also admitted (presumably to the shock of some modern Tories) that his greatest political mistake was supporting Thatcherism:
Peter Oborne, “Sir Peter Tapsell: ‘My biggest mistake in politics was to listen to Mrs Thatcher,’” Telegraph, 21 March 2014.
That seems to serve well as a requiem for UK Tory Keynesianism.


  1. How like Peter Oborne to suggest that monetarism had worked and had saved the country. And - given his background as a City man - how interesting Tapsell's reply is.

    1. Yep, the Tory party under Thatcher had its "old" Tories (called "Wets") who despised most aspects of economic Thatcherism (except perhaps for the attacks on trade unions) and whose economics where broadly in line with Keynesianism.

  2. A lot to agree with in that interview.