>1980s origins of Tory modernizers: libertarians and the SDP

> The Sunday Supplement mini-documentary that follows Radio 4’s the Westminster Hour carried an interesting aside of the origins of the Tories current modernizing project of social and economic liberalism in the politics of the 1980s in the Federation of Conservative Student (FCS), previously taken over by a libertarian faction wishing to legalize hard drugs, hard porn, open borders and the right to bear arms. They were best remembered aping the political style of the far left and juvenile politically incorrect antics supporting the Nicaraguan Contras and the Afghan Mujahadeen, neither exactly well known for their social liberalism or commitment to the rule of law, although the both exercised a right to bear arms

Another Sunday Supplement series charted the similar passage of refugees from the short-lived Social Democratic Party (SDP), such as Danny Finkelstein into the modernizing wing of a declining Thatcherite Tory party, coming from the opposite political direction, although united by interest in marketization and a shared discomfort with the poshness and paternalism of traditional Toryism. Despite the libertarians stress on their ‘intellectual robustness’ their politics seemed to echo a half-baked reading of Nozick and the SDP came across as the more serious, if more boring, political outfit. Other SDP refugees, made careers in the Liberal Democrats and New Labour.

Interestingly, the FCS also supplied some of the most determined opponents of the Tories ongoing modernizationthrough its lesser known authoritarian faction. This represents a political pedigree running through the Monday Club and projects such as Right Now! magazine, which supplied an aggressive platform for eugencist and paleo-conservative views usually considered beyond the pale in British politics.

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