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« The week it didn't happen for Ken Clarke | Main | Dr Fox calls for 12-week abortion limits »


Wat Tyler

I must say I've always had real problems understanding what One Nation actually means today, other than some kind of broad "motherhood" commitment to helping the losers as well as the winners.

So there's nothing much wrong with what Sir M says by way of aspiration, but- as you say Ed- what we want to know is what we're going to do about it.

Like public services reform- he says they nedd "radical and non-doctrinaire partnership between the public and private sectors."

Well, yes...but does that for example mean putting the spending power in the hands of the customers?

He says: "The electorate are not hostile to such reforms but they will always be suspicious of a Conservative programme for involving the private sector which appears to give precedence to ideology over results. One Nation Tories have no guilt complexes about pragmatism and are much more likely to be trusted by the public."

Meaning, presumably, "Davis can't do what needs doing because he's a right-wing ideologue, whereas I can because I'm a One Nation Tory."

If only life was that simple.

Peter Littleton

Sir Malcolm's four points don't really seem to say an awful lot about what he is standing for.

1) He talks about the eradication of poverty. But poverty is a relative term. Clearly poverty in the UK has little relation to poverty in the Sudan, or in the Indian sub continent. Therefore, short of evening out incomes across the country it seems to me to be a very unspecific aim.

At the heart of conservatism is an acceptance of class, and indeed conservatism emabraces this, inasmuch as it creates aspiration which is a driving force in society.

Also, he doesn't mention the 'deserving and the undeserving poor'. What about those who could work but choose not to. How does society elevate these people without literally increasing handouts?

2) Why a specific commitment to ending race discrimination. Doesn't it bother him that the over 65s are far more likely to vote Tory than the 18 - 24s.

Also, social and cultural reasons may exist why ethnic minorities choose not to vote for us, beyond the colour of their skin.

3) In the US both libertarian conservatives and compassionate conservatives fully accept and endorse devolution of power locally and at State level. Positions on this are more coincidental than ideologically attached to one nationism.

4) Once again, specifics are needed in how he proposes to promote global development. Does he focus on opening up of western markets or the distribution of generous aid packages.

Also, he seems to have a lot of faith in the international rule of law. Internation law, knocked out by the UN through a complex process of political maneuvering cannot genuinely be said to have the same legitimacy as English law, debated in Parliament by elected representatives of the people.

James Hellyer

Sir Malcolm's basic argument seems to be that as "a One nation Conservative", he could implement radical public service reforms whereas David Davis, say, could not. The supposed reason for this is that One Nation Conservatives are pragmatic rather than ideological, and would therefore only do such things because they work, rather than because they appeal to their pet policy wonk.

The key problem with this statement is that people neither know or care about what "One Nation" Conservatism is. Like it or not, Sir Malcolm is a Conservative, and that's how he'd be seen.

The "One Nation" tag is now an empty one. It's users speak only to our political classes, and even then they do without meaning. Even by Sir Malcolm's definitions, almost everyone on the Commons could lay claim to be a One Nation Conservative.


Bang on, James - "One Nation" is political class code for "a Tory, but without the nasty Right-wing bits - so you can keep inviting me to write in the Guardian."

Sean Fear

"Also, social and cultural reasons may exist why ethnic minorities choose not to vote for us, beyond the colour of their skin."

It seems most unlikely that the Conservative Party would ever support a foreign policy which would appeal to most Muslim voters in this country, for example, and why should it?


Why not Sean? The Conservative Party has often adopted a more evenhanded approach to the middle east than Labour and could do so again.
I wonder how many voters of whatevever religion would have their votes swayed purely by foreign policy anyway.

Sean Fear

Judging by some of the results from East London and Birmingham, on May 5th, I'd say that quite a lot of Muslim voters are willing to vote on the basis of foreign policy.

As it happens, I think this government has adopted a reasonably even-handed approach to the Middle East, and I would certainly not want to see our foreign policy move further in a pro-Palestinian direction.

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