„Our opponents like to try and make you believe that Conservatism is a privilege of the few. But Conservatism conserves all that is great and best in our national heritage.“

The Path To Power (1995)

Adopted from Wikiquote. Last update June 3, 2021. History
Margaret Thatcher photo
Margaret Thatcher348
British stateswoman and politician 1925 - 2013

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Boris Johnson photo

„I believe I am best placed to lift this party, beat Jeremy Corbyn and excite people about conservatism and conservative values.“

—  Boris Johnson British politician, historian and journalist 1964

Tory leadership: Johnson warns party of risk of Brexit 'extinction' https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-48521389, BBC News, 5 June 2019
2010s, 2019

Peter Hitchens photo

„The main enemy of conservatism in Britain is the Conservative Party.“

—  Peter Hitchens author, journalist 1951

From 'The Cameron Delusion' (2010)

Ronald Reagan photo

„If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism.“

—  Ronald Reagan American politician, 40th president of the United States (in office from 1981 to 1989) 1911 - 2004

I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals — if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is. Now, I can’t say that I will agree with all the things that the present group who call themselves Libertarians in the sense of a party say, because I think that like in any political movement there are shades, and there are libertarians who are almost over at the point of wanting no government at all or anarchy. I believe there are legitimate government functions. There is a legitimate need in an orderly society for some government to maintain freedom or we will have tyranny by individuals. The strongest man on the block will run the neighborhood. We have government to ensure that we don’t each one of us have to carry a club to defend ourselves. But again, I stand on my statement that I think that libertarianism and conservatism are traveling the same path.
Interview published in Reason (1 July 1975)
1970s

Abraham Lincoln photo

„You say you are conservative — eminently conservative — while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried?“

—  Abraham Lincoln 16th President of the United States 1809 - 1865

1860s, Cooper Union speech (1860)
Context: You say you are conservative — eminently conservative — while we are revolutionary, destructive, or something of the sort. What is conservatism? Is it not adherence to the old and tried, against the new and untried? We stick to, contend for, the identical old policy on the point in controversy which was adopted by "our fathers who framed the Government under which we live;" while you with one accord reject, and scout, and spit upon that old policy, and insist upon substituting something new. True, you disagree among yourselves as to what that substitute shall be. You are divided on new propositions and plans, but you are unanimous in rejecting and denouncing the old policy of the fathers.

Peter Hitchens photo
Josh Marshall photo

„With all the efforts now to disassociate President Bush from conservatism, I am starting to believe that conservatism itself — not the political machine, mind you, but the ideology — is heading toward that misty land-over-the-ocean where ideologies go after they've shuffled off this mortal coil. Sort of like the way post-Stalinist lefties used to say, "You can't say Communism's failed. It's just never really been tried."But as it was with Communism, so with conservatism. When all the people who call themselves conservatives get together and run the government, they're on the line for it. Conservative president. Conservative House. Conservative Senate.What we appear to be in for now is the emergence of this phantom conservatism existing out in the ether, wholly cut loose from any connection to the actual people who are universally identified as the conservatives and who claim the label for themselves.We can even go a bit beyond this though. The big claim now is that President Bush isn't a conservative because he hasn't shrunk the size of government and he's a reckless deficit spender.But let's be honest: Balanced budgets and shrinking the size of government hasn't been part of conservatism — or to be more precise, Movement Conservatism — for going on thirty years. The conservative movement and the Republican party are the movement and party of deficit spending. And neither has any claim to any real association with limited or small government. Just isn't borne out by any factual record or political agenda. Not in the Reagan presidency, the Bush presidency or the second Bush presidency. The intervening period of fiscal restraint comes under Clinton.“

—  Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo

Talking Points Memo (2006-06-13) http://www.talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/008733.php

„It was only in April 1974 that I was converted to Conservatism. (I had thought I was a Conservative but I now see that I was not really one at all.)“

—  Keith Joseph British barrister and politician 1918 - 1994

Keith Joseph, Reversing the Trend: A Critical Reappraisal of Conservative Economic and Social Policies (Barry Rose, 1975).
1970s

Gough Whitlam photo

„A conservative government survives essentially by dampening expectations and subduing hopes. Conservatism is basically pessimistic, reformism is basically optimistic.“

—  Gough Whitlam Australian politician, 21st Prime Minister of Australia 1916 - 2014

Self-quoted in The Whitlam Government 1972–1975 by Gough Whitlam

Patrick Buchanan photo
Tony Blair photo

„A New Britain where the extraordinary talent of the British people is liberated from the forces of conservatism that so long have held them back, to create a model 21st century nation, based not on privilege, class or background, but on the equal worth of all.“

—  Tony Blair former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom 1953

Tony Blair's speech in full http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/460009.stm, BBC News online
Speech to the Labour Party conference, 28 September 1999.
1990s

Margaret Thatcher photo

„I am not sure what is meant by those who say that the Party should return to something called "One Nation Conservatism". As far as I can tell by their views on European federalism, such people's creed would be better described as "No Nation Conservatism".“

—  Margaret Thatcher British stateswoman and politician 1925 - 2013

Keith Joseph Memorial Lecture (11 January 1996) http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=108353
Post-Prime Ministerial

Woodrow Wilson photo

„Conservatism is the policy of making no changes and consulting your grandmother when in doubt.“

—  Woodrow Wilson American politician, 28th president of the United States (in office from 1913 to 1921) 1856 - 1924

Attributed by Raymond B. Fosdick in Report of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation, 1963, p. 49 http://books.google.com/books?id=EqE8AAAAIAAJ&q=%22consulting+your+grandmother+when+in+doubt%22&dq=%22consulting+your+grandmother+when+in+doubt%22&hl=en&ei=fJ-HTJ33MYL58AaTqZyOAg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3&ved=0CDkQ6AEwAg
1910s

T.S. Eliot photo

„But the Church cannot be, in any political sense, either conservative or liberal, or revolutionary. Conservatism is too often conservation of the wrong things: liberalism a relaxation of discipline; revolution a denial of the permanent things.“

—  T.S. Eliot 20th century English author 1888 - 1965

Source: Christianity and Culture: The Idea of a Christian Society and Notes Towards the Definition of Culture

Albert Jay Nock photo

„Conservatism is not a body of opinion, it has no set platform or creed, and hence, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a hundred-per-cent conservative group or party“

—  Albert Jay Nock American journalist 1870 - 1945

A Little Conserva-tive (1936)
Context: Lucius Cary, Viscount Falkland, managed to make himself a most conspicuous example of every virtue and every grace of mind and manner; and this was the more remarkable because in the whole period through which he lived — the period leading up to the Civil War — the public affairs of England were an open playground for envy, hatred, malice, and all uncharitableness. … He could not see that there was any inconsistency in his attitude. He then went on to lay down a great general principle in the ever — memorable formula, "Mr. Speaker, when it is not necessary to change, it is necessary not to change."
Here we get on track of what conservatism is. We must carefully observe the strength of Falkland's language. He does not say that when it is not necessary to change, it is expedient or advisable not to change; he says it is necessary not to change. Very well, then, the differentiation of conservatism rests on the estimate of necessity in any given case. Thus conservatism is purely an ad hoc affair; its findings vary with conditions, and are good for this day and train only. Conservatism is not a body of opinion, it has no set platform or creed, and hence, strictly speaking, there is no such thing as a hundred-per-cent conservative group or party … Nor is conservatism an attitude of sentiment. Dickens's fine old unintelligent characters who "kept up the barrier, sir, against modern innovations" were not conservatives. They were sentimental obstructionists, probably also obscurantists, but not conservatives.
Nor yet is conservatism the antithesis of radicalism; the antithesis of radical is superficial. Falkland was a great radical; he was never for a moment caught by the superficial aspect of things. A person may be as radical as you please, and still may make an extremely conservative estimate of the force of necessity exhibited by a given set of conditions. A radical, for example, may think we should get on a great deal better if we had an entirely different system of government, and yet, at this time and under conditions now existing, he may take a strongly conservative view of the necessity for pitching out our system, neck and crop, and replacing it with another. He may think our fiscal system is iniquitous in theory and monstrous in practice, and be ever so sure he could propose a better one, but if on consideration of all the circumstances he finds that it is not necessary to change that system, he is capable of maintaining stoutly that it is necessary not to change it. The conservative is a person who considers very closely every chance, even the longest, of "throwing out the baby with the bath-water," as the German proverb puts it, and who determines his conduct accordingly. And so we see that the term conservative has little value as a label; in fact, one might say that its label-value varies inversely with one's right to wear it.... It covers so much that looks like mere capriciousness and inconsistency that one gets little positive good out of wearing it; and because of its elasticity it is so easily weaseled into an impostor-term or a term of reproach, or again into one of derision, as implying complete stagnation of mind, that it is likely to do one more harm than it is worth.

Barry Goldwater photo

„I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of "conservatism."“

—  Barry Goldwater American politician 1909 - 1998

Address on religious factions (1981)
Context: I must make it clear that I don't condemn these groups for what they believe. I happen to share many of the values emphasized by these organizations.
I'm frankly sick and tired of the political preachers across this country telling me as a citizen that if I want to be a moral person, I must believe in "A," "B," "C" and "D." Just who do they think they are? And from where do they presume to claim the right to dictate their moral beliefs to me?
And I am even more angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of "conservatism." … This unrelenting obsession with a particular goal destroys the perspective of many decent people. They have become easy prey to manipulation and misjudgment.

William Kristol photo
Jonah Goldberg photo
Ronald Reagan photo

„If you analyze it I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals — if we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description also of what libertarianism is. Now, I can’t say that I will agree with all the things that the present group who call themselves Libertarians in the sense of a party say, because I think that like in any political movement there are shades, and there are libertarians who are almost over at the point of wanting no government at all or anarchy. I believe there are legitimate government functions. There is a legitimate need in an orderly society for some government to maintain freedom or we will have tyranny by individuals. The strongest man on the block will run the neighborhood. We have government to ensure that we don’t each one of us have to carry a club to defend ourselves. But again, I stand on my statement that I think that libertarianism and conservatism are traveling the same path.“

—  Ronald Reagan American politician, 40th president of the United States (in office from 1981 to 1989) 1911 - 2004

Interview published in Reason (1 July 1975)
1970s

Patrick Buchanan photo

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