January 13, 2020 - 9:56am

“Do you ride?” The first question he asked when I nervously introduced myself, honoured (practically apologetic) to be in his presence, 23 and from Cheshire. Damn! I didn’t. I racked my brains for other rural tokens that might endear him to his new pupil; maybe I should wear my waxed coat to my next tutorial? But before long, I got to know the real Professor Scruton who gave no cause for such nerves. An unpretentious teacher, patient and kind, but with a dry wit and robust instruction.

From one Scrutopian to others, and to readers who have yet to discover him, I say: take up his mantle. Too precious and true was his contribution to contemporary conservative thought to only treasure, protect and preserve. We must also ensure its future. Beyond his scruffy jumpers, his personal charm and intellect, Roger was evangelistic about Scrutonianism — not for commercial gain, but for the common good. Indeed, his analysis of Britain’s social condition, whereby conservatives are being “cowed into abject conformity around a dubious set of doctrines”, is devastatingly accurate.

Just as conservatism is not about conserving for the archives but for future generations, so we must not archive Roger’s legacy. In Human Nature (2017) he writes, “My freedom is not an uncaused eruption into the world of human events; it is a product of my social condition, and it brings with it the full burden of responsibility to the other.”

That responsibility is now ours; his books should be well-thumbed, open on coffee tables, and dare I say, in the classroom. Like another of Roger’s hobbies, drinking wine, his writing performs most excellently if out of the cellar and shared among friends.

So, let’s dig deeper into his writing, which spans over 50 books and myriad disciplines. Just as I did not need to be apologetic in that first encounter, rider or not, nor need we be shy in taking up his mantle. Anything else would be a disservice to our children.

 Imogen Sinclair works at the Centre for Social Justice, leading research on transforming deprived communities.