On ConservativeHome’s Platform: Steve Baker MP: Egypt teeters, exposing lessons for the UK:

Under the auspices of the Iman Foundation, Syed Kamall MEP and I travelled this week to Cairo to promote pluralism and the principles of a free society. We delivered two successful seminars on democracy, freedom and tolerance – one for senior political and academic figures and one for young activists – in addition to meeting members of Egypt’s political class. These seminars followed Syed’s previous work in Cote d’Ivoire based on Principles for a Free Society, a short book written by British academic Dr Nigel Ashford.

You can read the rest of the article on ConservativeHome but I would particularly recommend Ashford’s book.

At only 96 pages, the book (PDF) is fabulously concise and insightful. Those who think freedom is opposed to society ought to note that the first chapter is “Civil Society” and it begins by quoting Alexis de Tocqueville:

Among the laws that rule human societies there is one which seems to be more precise and clear than all others. If men are to remain civilised or to become so, the art of associating together must grow and improve in the same ratio in which the equality of conditions is increased.

In reading the book, I found I stepped back from the drama of present events and the specialisms I have adopted to reflect again that the UK is not a shining example of a free and open society. One need only read the section on toleration to realise what we have yet to regain.

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