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Andrew Morrison: One Nation? We got it decades ago, Ed — Labour still doesn’t

Andrew MorrisonAndrew Morrison works as a Chartered Accountant in Lanarkshire, serves as the current Vice-Chairman of the Scottish Conservative & Unionist Party West of Scotland Regional Council, and stood for election recently at the Local Authority elections in May 2012.

Any party funded by, voted for and populated with people who advance the cause of industrial and class antagonism cannot ever aspire to ‘One Nation’ politics. Ed Miliband may have tried because he sees the value of One Nation politics, but he failed before he even delivered his speech to the Labour Party Conference.  All the silly posturing about the type of school Ed attended, to artificially create a contrast against the Prime Minister of rags-to-riches versus privilege, simultaneously misled the public, created an incorrect impression and thwarted the type of harmony that One Nation politics seeks to advance.

The debate on Ed’s education was not around the quality of the school the Leader of the Opposition attended.  For starters it was amongst the best performing State schools which one tends to find in catchment areas with very expensive homes, thus debarring ordinary people access to a greater extent than schools in the independent sector.  It should be pointed out Ed attended a Comprehensive school not because he originated from an ordinary background — far from it — but rather due to the political dogma of his Marxist father.

One Nation seeks to bridge the gap between the best and worst performing schools in our country by raising standards, quality of education and diverting resources to those who need it most — via the ‘Pupil Premium’, for example. 

Labour’s Two Nation approach tries to subvert the independent school sector by threatening to restrict their charitable status; it tries to reduce choice as they stand against more city academies; and let’s remember they put the nail in the coffin of grant-maintained schools, pushing more and more establishments towards comprehensive status, then justified it all not by telling parents with kids at bad schools how good their education would become, but rather by conjuring up the superior education those at better schools received.  Again, Ed speaks of One Nation within the Labour Party, but I don’t see it.

Compare One Nation Conservative government in action with the subversive politics the Labour Party pursues today: a historic Act delivered by Conservatives in 1875 which created legal quality between workers and bosses by making breach of contract a mere civil offence, rather than criminal – a huge milestone for the working classes within the setting of the Victorian Era. Compare that to the closed shop and the bully boy Union Rep tactics Labour turned a blind eye to in 1975 and onward. 

Further legislation in 1875 also protected workers’ groups from accusations of conspiracy when planning the right to take industrial action, essentially legalising workplace Trade Union organisation.  One Nation Conservatives recognise moderate Trade Union activity to ensure capitalism can function with a motivated, healthy, safe and well-rewarded workforce.  Compare that to collective bargaining activity we see today whereby Trades Unions are predominantly centred around the public sector only and purposefully strike not for better working conditions or workplace safety, but to knowingly subvert the will of the democratically elected Government and indirectly benefit the Labour Party in opposition.

Labour think they are a One Nation party because they believe in a one-size-fits-all approach to public services. 

The Tory-led Coalition is truly One Nation because we are seeking to reform the public sector to create wider choice, competition and consequently drive up standards for the majority who rely on them.  We recognise one size does not fit all: people are individuals with fickle likes and dislikes, have different priorities and place value on different qualities — and all of these have to be accommodated to truly create a nation in which people from every circumstance can be happier, more secure, affluent together and comfortable with one another.

One Nation Conservatism will build a nation of united people; people who can empathise with each other’s difficulties and setbacks, and understand one another’s ambitions and dreams rather than denigrating those with ability and merit by agitating those with neither by invoking the politics of greed and the class war.

And remember, Tony Blair wished to carry out many of the reforms the Coalition is currently implementing across the public services, but he had to back down because of MPs such as Ed Miliband, his Chancellor Ed Balls and many others surrounding the infamous ‘Roadblock to Reform’ Gordon Brown.  The Labour Party’s roots are as a Two Nation, not a One Nation, party.

And when it comes to the biggest political issue of our lifetime — paying down the deficit — we are a One Nation government, Labour a two-bit Opposition. 

You see, it is because a bankrupt government lets down the poorest the greatest that we must hold our course of direction. If Britain went broke, it is benefits, education and health services which would be cut drastically rather than moderately (ask a Spaniard or a Greek) and consequentially the poorest would be hurt most; the rich could either fend for themselves by opting out, or bailing out of Britain entirely.

We are One Nation because we are protecting the country’s future for the poorest, not the richest, in our society. Labour are Two Nation because they point to the rich and their privileges rather than taking the tough decisions to safeguard future economic security for the poor.

In conclusion, our predecessors in the Tory Party banned women and children from working down the pits, regulated factory working hours, repealed the corn laws to reduce food prices for all, carried out slum clearances across Victorian Britain, gave working men the vote, introduced free primary schooling, guaranteed Britain’s first unemployment benefit and universal old age pension system, gave women the vote and set in motion a health system which led to the NHS before the Labour Party was even a Party of Government.

Latterly, we set about creating the property-owning democracy by substantially increasing levels of home ownership and share ownership, and by facing down vested interests to ensure there is a strong working class who can better face down vested interests themselves — all in the teeth of opposition from the Labour Party. 

When it comes to One Nation politics, the politics of division, jealously and dispute stand petty, divisive and old-fashioned when compared with our own. Tony Blair may have shook our confidence in ourselves as the moderate, One Nation party of Government for a while but, be assured, Ed Miliband is no Tony Blair and he certainly no One Nation politician.

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