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ACRE

Jesse Norman: a politician should be a philosopher in action

23 January 2017

At the Edmund Burke Award Ceremony in London, eulogist Jesse Norman MP described a politician as a philosopher in action.

On 1 November 2016, ACRE presented the Edmund Burke Award to the Hon John Howard OM AC, who served as the 25th Prime Minister of Australia from 1996 to 2007. In his laudation, Jesse Norman analysed the principals of his Burkean understanding of politics.

He said:

Edmund Burke believed that a politician should be a philosopher in action, a master of both words and deeds, able to tie language and thought to values and context in the service of good governance.

Norman noted that Burke conceived political parties as institutions of principle in service of the national interest. Furthermore, he described the purpose of politics as the preservation of supra-individual social order.

He said:

The purpose of politics is not to satisfy the interests of individuals who happen to be living now, it is to preserve a social order that addresses the needs of generations in the past, present and future, […] a community across time and space, […] a nation.

Jesse Norman was appointed by Prime Minister Theresa May as Minister for Industry and Energy at the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy in 2016. He graduated in Classics at the University of Oxford, and has an MPhil and PhD in Philosophy from University College London.

Every year, ACRE gives the Edmund Burke Award to the politician who has done the most to advance conservative principles globally. The winner of the Edmund Burke Award 2015 was Senator Jim DeMint, the leader of the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC.

You will find Norman’s full speech below.