It is perhaps one of the oddities of the British political tradition that it is often best revealed by foreigners. Voltaire and Montesquieu in the 18th century had a large part in England’s reputation as a notably free society, but it could be argued that the Irishman Edmund Burke should be recognised as the major ‘foreign’ contributor to our political self-understanding. He could express what the English were about better than any native. In doing so, Burke made a lasting contribution to the development of modern democracy.
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