About the True Blue Will Never Stain blog

This blog contains the self-directed writings of Martin Hutchinson, mostly on history, political economy and finance. It does not include those writings on economics and finance that are produced to order, heavily edited, and published primarily elsewhere.

From his early years as a London merchant banker, Martin has been convinced that there is a philosophy of Conservatism, as embodied in the great Tory governments of 1783-1830, which represents the best approach yet devised to the problem of governing a diverse and complex modern civilization. This belief was central to his first book “Great Conservatives”, the first draft of which was written in the 1970s and which was published in 2004. Since Martin’s primary expertise lies in finance and economics, it also underlay the book “Alchemists of Loss” written jointly with Professor Kevin Dowd and published in 2010. It also underlies Martin’s new book, expected to be published around 2019-20, tentatively titled “Britain’s Greatest Prime Minister”, about Robert Banks Jenkinson, Lord Liverpool (Prime Minister, 1812-27).

“True Blue Will Never Stain” was, according to Linda Colley and others, the favorite theme song of the 18th Century Tory party, from which, partly through Liverpool’s father Charles Jenkinson, much of the Tory philosophy of 1783-1830 derived. It was originally written around 1694 for the British forces fighting in Flanders under William III in the War of the League of Augsberg. It refers to the blue used in butchers’ aprons, which was supposed to stain less easily with blood, and was also the color of the English uniforms in that war (red coats were only universally adopted later.) Since blue was the color of the 18th century Tory party (the Whigs generally used buff) the song was adapted to political purposes, probably by the High Tories of Queen Anne’s reign.

Sir Robert Peel rebranded the Tories as Conservatives after 1830 (the term “Conservative” was first used in the January 1830 Quarterly Review to refer to a follower of the last months of the great Tory government, then led by the Duke of Wellington). The 19th Century Conservatives kept the blue (though the precise shade of blue has varied – the Conservatives have generally used darker shades than the 18th Century Tories) but abandoned the song.

This blog will contain Martin’s Bear’s Lair columns and other writings related to economics, finance or history that he believes to be of general interest. It will in particular include essays and reviews on historical subjects and on Martin’s other non-economic interests, which will generally not be available elsewhere.