David Brooks Is On To Something

This is true and a reason why things turned out well:

The political parties [of Britain in the first half of the 19th Century] represented vested interests but were not particularly ideological.

But he has the following upside down:

The social movements were impressive, but the key to Britain’s success was the way political leaders responded to them. Britain was blessed by a stable parliamentary system and by a legislative culture that valued deliberation and debate. Political leaders in both parties understood that the winds of change were blowing and they had better initiate reforms if they wanted to head off a revolution.

It’s actually the kind of radicals that make all the difference. The reaction to radicals is made in the terms the radicals introduce. Ideological radicals are met by an ideological reaction. Policy oriented radicals are met with policy oriented reaction.

Brooks, cribbing from his source, describes the radicals by their demands: 

Clatham Sect: 

sought to eradicate slavery, spread the faith, discourage indebtedness, build Sunday schools, reform behavior and basically spread what we now call Victorian morality.

Chartists:

The Chartists cohered around The People’s Charter, which had six demands, including universal male suffrage, vote by ballot and equal electoral districts. In 1842, the Chartists presented a petition to Parliament with three million signatures.

Anti-Corn Law League: 

promoted free-trade legislation to reduce the power of the landed gentry, to make food cheaper for the working classes and to encourage international exchange and cooperation.

Ask for six things, get six things. Ask for global revolution in order to usher in the dictatorship of the proletariat and you get Barry Goldwater and the National Review.