Conservative Philosopher Scruton Gets Govt Commission Job Back After Smears

Roger Scruton / Peter Helme

British conservative philosopher Sir Roger Scruton has been reinstated as a co-chairman of a government commission after his sudden dismissal following the publication of misleading “partial quotations” by a left-wing magazine.

Letters between Sir Roger and the minister who fired him, the nominally-conservative housing secretary James Brokenshire MP were published by the Spectator Tuesday, revealing Scruton was being welcomed back to the government’s building commission, albeit on a co-chair basis alongside the man who replaced him.

The celebrated thinker had been unceremoniously booted from his role at the head of the Building Beautiful, Building Better commission in April by Brokenshire after sitting for an interview with the left-wing New Statesman magazine which resulted in highly selective quotes being published that portrayed Sir Roger as a racist and antisemite.

Leftist journalist George Eaton, who published the quotes published an image of himself drinking champagne straight from the bottle after it was revealed his article had led to Sir Roger being fired, but later deleted his social media and was demoted within the magazine when the extent of the misquoting was revealed.

The New Statesman later published an apology and the full text of the interview.

The Building Beautiful commission was established in 2018 to get around the disconnect in UK property, with the government ordering huge numbers of new houses to be built to serve the nation’s rapidly expanding population, but being opposed by voters who object to the countryside being defaced with large, bland, and even ugly housing. By encouraging developers to use traditional architectural styles that complement local areas, the government hoped to wear down such objections.

Up to 67,000 acres of the countryside is set to be concreted over, prompting stiff resistance from groups like the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England and from local residents.

Sir Roger is a noted expert on the philosophy of aesthetics and, unusually for academia, an avowed conservative. Scruton has previously described himself as “instinctively hostile to Modernist… horizontal slabs” in architecture, a point of view shared by most Britons.


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