To the House of Lords, where last night the neophyte neoliberals of the Adam Smith Institute were toasting three centuries of Scotland’s greatest economic thinker. And while Rishi Sunak preferred to spend his night cracking jokes about Boris Johnson at the nearby Policy Exchange party, his Foreign Secretary was on hand to offer some much-need soundness instead. Bright young things and old survivors gathered together to hear James Cleverly, who delivered a rousing endorsement of Smith’s philosophy:
Adam Smith didn’t just talk about competition and free markets. He was a great pragmatist in terms of international relations. He recognised that in terms of international relations we had to deal with the world as it was, we had to deal with people as they were, rather than bend them and force them to be an idealised version of themselves. We had to deal with the real world. And that meant that we had to be willing to defend ourselves against tyrants and aggressors.
For Cleverly, this was evidenced during his recent visit to Sweden, currently in the midst of its accession bid to join Nato. There he had numerous conversations about Russia’s ‘brutal, illegal, unjustified invasion of Ukraine’:
If we value choice and if we value freedom and free trade and the ability of business people to go about their business and of consumers to go about theirs, if we value those things we have to be willing to protect them. And we have to be willing to protect them physically. And we have to be willing to protect them ideologically. I am not going to demand that you take up physical arms and march to the frontline. If you wish to, you go with my love and blessing but, looking around the room I would say, many of you here have got more to contribute in the intellectual battle.