Progressives, Distributists, and Neoliberals
The conclusion draws together the main arguments developed in the preceding chapters. It argues that the mid-twentieth-century Liberal Party was fragile but resilient, and suggests that the party’s main ideological tension lay not so much between classical and social liberalism as between two different forms of social liberalism: the activism of Keynes and Beveridge and the more cautious distributist tradition. Many Liberals remained sympathetic to market economics and engaged constructively with the early neoliberal movement, but they also embraced Keynesianism as a means of achieving full employment without central planning. The party’s electoral revival from the late 1950s onwards was accompanied by a renewed engagement with mainstream progressive opinion and social democratic ideas. The chapter ends by considering the Liberal Democrats’ contribution to the Cameron–Clegg coalition and its relationship with the party’s long economic heritage.
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