An Oakeshottian In Politics

My friend and fellow Oakeshott scholar, Jesse Norman, is now a member of parliament and did a very Oakeshottian thing in almost single-handedly torpedoing reform of the House of Lords. The idea that an institution that has survived so long in the British constitutional tradition should be drastically overhauled to become a democratic body to rival the Commons struck David Cameron as a jolly good thing. Jesse channeled Burke to give Cameron his biggest Commons revolt since he became prime minister. Which led to Cameron collaring Jesse in the Commons and giving him an old-fashioned bollocking. (Don't believe everything in that post.) Then this lovely quote in the Guardian:

As one of the most erudite MPs at Westminster, Jesse Norman naturally turned to Charles James Fox to describe his own predicament yesterday. Hours after David Cameron remonstrated with him outside the commons division lobies, after Norman led the biggest Tory rebellion of the parliament, the backbencher quoted the 18th-century Whig statesman.

There had been "no loss of friendship", Norman told a reporter in his Hereford and South Herefordshire constituency before a visit by the Queen. Norman might have added that Edmund Burke replied to Fox: "I regret to say there is."

I have sometimes been asked what an Oakeshottian would actually do if he had to wield, you know, power. The answer is: as little as possible and only as much as absolutely needed.