Next Left is rather committed to the right to reply, particularly given the elevated nature of much of our readership.(See Stuart's rather excellent post earlier on liberalisms and communitarianisms, to which Jonathan Rutherford has offered an interesting response in the comments thread).
So here is Phillip's encyclical to the Fabians:
"I wish you would stop trying to misrepresent me about the 14th vs the 21st century: I never said that. I said that history isn't always progressive and that one century isn't self-evidently and always an advance on the former - in fact thinking like this is foolish and blinds one to what is lost and what is gained. Saying what is new is always best is just as stupid as saying what is past was always better. We need an account of the good to judge the past and the future and indeed without such there is no politics of the present.
Secondly, I am not illiberal. My main point is a philosophical and historical one that liberty (which I believe in) is not produced from liberalism. Indeed my intellectual argument is that that pure liberalism or liberalism as first philosophy cannot produce liberty - indeed it produces an anarchic individualism that requires a surveillance state. Thus liberalism produces the very thing it seeks to avoid: an authoritarian individual and an absolutist state. This is a serious point and to have it charactured as anti-liberal is either an inane misreading or an outright misrepresentation. In fact liberalism is not liberal at all."
I don't entirely accept the first point, simply because Phillip's refusal to accept this as a sensible question - it was something of a knockabout debating point - was really rather fairly reported in my post about this, where I wrote:
Pushed later, he refused to play. He had some good arguments for refusing to express a preference between medieval times and modernity. It was simply ahistoric to put the question in those terms. In any event, if the route to the 21st century had to be through the horrors of the 20th, then he would prefer not to get here.
On an earlier occasion, what Blond had written about the need to recover and update the medieval model of plural and local power relations, corrupted from the 14th century onwards, was this:
The late middle ages especially were marked by a vast plurality of horizontal relationships, often overlapping, and a myriad of reciprocal and mutual duties and responsibilities. Likewise it is right that a medieval network of a predominantly horizontal communal and social order, exemplified by the church but also including guilds and agrarian communities organised around differential property relationships, was destroyed by the new vertical "secular monarchs". From the 14th century on, they asserted their power and corrupted a pre-existing highly plural and reciprocal community with demands for top-down allegiance, authority and control. Updating and recovering this earlier medieval model for the modern age is of course the task.
Still, while it was fun while it lasted, it may now be time to think of a new point.
On the inane misreading of Blond's critique of liberalism, and his argument about who is and is not liberal, I do admit to being slightly lost.
I think I have called the Red Toryism "anti-liberal" rather than illiberal, following Jonathan Derbyshire's excellent ( New Statesman profile of Blond).
Blond's argument is that he is anti-liberalism but the true liberal, because it is liberalism which is illiberal and not liberal.
(Or, as Stuart wrote earlier, "a nihilist liberal politics of arbitrary freedom must be replaced with one of collective morality’).
Those liberals who reject the Red Tory account of liberalism often make a similar charge back.
So the Red Tories and the "liberals" seem clear about what conceptual territory they wish to stake claim to, and also to deny that their opponents have a valid claim to it. This appears to be a pretty foundational dispute about what liberty means.
So whose liberalism is it anyway?
Could a Phillip Blond- Richard Reeves prize bout help to settle the question?
A good moment to hand back to the studio, and Dr Stuart White.