Published online by Cambridge University Press: 12 November 2014
Conservatives usually play down their intellectual credentials because it provides them with an effective means of distancing themselves from the ‘doctrinaire’ or the intellectualized politics of the left. But this approach was challenged by a significant group of Conservative MPs and intellectuals during the interwar period. Conservatives wrote articles for a range of periodicals, which were still important channels of communication for the sharing of political ideas between the wars. Stanley Baldwin banned government ministers from publishing independent journalism, which meant that it was mainly young, ambitious, or marginalized Conservative MPs who wrote for periodicals. When left-wing sentiment started to swell up during the Second World War, some Conservative supporters started to question the interwar leadership's neglect of the party's intellectual and publishing culture. It was now thought that the Conservative party lacked a convincing media-based popular ideology to compete with the left. But if Baldwin prioritized other aspects of the interwar party's appeal, the intellectual culture of Conservatism still acted as an important barrier to communist and fascist thought in elite political circles. This culture also had important resonances for the party in the post-war period because it contributed to its self-evaluation and policy restatements after 1945.
I thank the Syndics of Cambridge University Library, the Master and Fellows of Trinity College, Cambridge, and the estate of Harold Nicolson for allowing me to cite the Stanley Baldwin papers, the R. A. Butler papers, and Harold Nicolson's diary, respectively. I would also like to express my gratitude to John Drinkwater, Mark Hailwood, Jon Lawrence, Peter Mandler, Richard Toye, and the journal's two anonymous referees for their invaluable comments on various drafts of this article. Finally, I am very appreciative of the advice given to me by Stefan Collini, Jon Parry, and Philip Williamson on particular aspects of my work during its preparation.
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