Writer, Journalist and Broadcaster

Noel Skelton and the Property-Owning Democracy

Noel Skelton
“…scholarly and very readable…David Torrance has performed a valuable political service by producing this excellent biography of one of the finest distributists, Noel Skelton.” – John Ballantyne, News Weekly (Australia)

“Noel Skelton…[is] well worth Torrance’s resurrection…an engaging, well-written account of the efforts of a Tory MP and his young supporters to modernise the Conservative Party in the 1920s and a testimony to the enduring appeal of a quality catch phase.”
Brian Lund, Journal of Social Policy

“…the book casts some light on the group of intellectuals who contributed to the reconstruction of the Conservative party in the inter-war period.” – Duncan Bowie, Chartist

“Torrance has rescued a significant Tory thinker from the slow backwaters of history…[he] has given Skelton the posthumous recognition he deserves.”
David Melding AM, WalesHome.org

“David Torrance’s book is a radical and visionary reappraisal of Noel Skelton, the original ‘Red Tory’ and one of the most important MPs and thinkers of his era.”
Phillip Blond, author of Red Tory

Born in July 1880, Noel Skelton was a Scottish Unionist politician, a lawyer, journalist and intellectual, whose death at the age of 55 deprived the Conservative Party of a reforming and progressive spirit. The intellectual conductor of a group of young Parliamentarians which included Macmillan, Eden, Boothby and John Buchan, Noel Skelton advocated a Constructive Conservatism , in which he eschewed the party s more reactionary elements in favour of a progressive line on traditionally socialist issues such as property ownership and industrial relations. His thinking on property ownership, in particular, became the cornerstone of at first Macmillan’s, then Eden’s, and even Douglas-Home’s policy making on housing in the post-war era. Indeed, Skelton’s principles summarised by his memorable phrase, a property-owning democracy can even be traced forward to Margaret Thatcher’s governments of the 1980s and beyond.