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At last, the right recipe for the Tories – if only they would add free markets

Conservative party leader Theresa May and Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson during the Scottish Conservatives manifesto launch at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre
The hand of Edmund Burke is visible in the 2017 Conservative Manifesto Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The Conservative manifesto for the coming election is conservative in its philosophy. This is surprisingly rare. In the David Cameron era, for example, the word “modern” was constantly employed in Tory rhetoric as a talisman to ward off critics. Not so much of that in the age of Theresa May.

Behind the manifesto is Nick Timothy, the only man – apart from her husband – in whom Mrs May seems to repose absolute trust. Behind Mr Timothy is Edmund Burke (1729-97) who, though he was actually a Whig in politics, is arguably the greatest philosopher of conservatism. Burke is not mentioned in the manifesto, but his thought informs it.

One of Burke’s most famous quotations is adapted by Mr Timothy in the manifesto thus: “society is a contract between the generations: a partnership between those who are living, those who have lived before us, and those who have yet to be born”. This is a quintessentially...

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