Democracy Needs Aristocracy

Peregrine Worsthorne

Every country has the aristocracy it deserves; so what does it say about Britain that it is in the process of removing the last vestiges of political power from one of the most ancient hereditary aristocracies in the world, and one, moreover, whose record of public service has been impeccable? The word aristocracy has many connotations, some good, some bad, and Britain’s aristocracy has in the past earned most of them in some degree or another. But Sir Peregrine Worsthorne, one of our most influential and respected political commentators, argues that not only does the good far outweigh the bad, but that our aristocracy has contributed mightily to our stability and prosperity, and that without it we would have neither. In this passionately argued and highly original essay Worsthorne forcefully demonstrates the shallowness of those who would celebrate the abolishment of hereditary peers in the House of Lords. For though many now forget it, Britain once had an upper class which was the envy of the world, and which, crucially, ‘had enough in-built authority – honed over three centuries – and enough ancestral wisdom – acquired over three centuries – to dare to defy the arrogance of intellectuals from above and the emotions of the masses from below; to dare to resist the entrepreneurial imperative; to dare to try to raise the level of public conversation; to dare to put the public interest before private interests; and to dare to shape the nation’s will and curb its appetites.’

Reviews of Democracy Needs Aristocracy

  • ‘A remorseless tease of the new bien-pensant, egalitarian Establishment and a serious critique of how that Establishment might be improved’ John Adamson, Sunday Telegraph

    ‘Compelling and beautifully explained … interesting and important’ Andrew Marr, Daily Telegraph

    ‘Peregrine Worsthorne … has long been our most elegantly provocative journalist … lively and fascinating … if his book had been twice as realistic it would also have been only half as much fun’ Mail on Sunday

    ‘Elegant and often highly amusing … entertaining’ Sunday Telegraph

    ‘Sir Peregrine is a romantic … we should admire his intention and welcome an essay whose style is so reminiscent of the man’ Spectator