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Now is not the time for meekness from Cameron.

We need to follow a different course to the one followed by Hague and Howard. A few kind modernising words to begin with then a return to our base will only continue the steady decline of the party.

We have no right to power or even to exist as a potent political force unless we engage with the electorate. The situation north of the boarder should scare any tory serious about forming a government.

So a promise to keep fox hunting is supposed to compensate for a refusal, for example, to argue to a dynamic, low tax economy?

Either this "Tory Insider" thinks the right of the party are fools, or he's reporting the strategy of a fool. For instance, how does the very right wing, but passionately anti-hunting Ann Widdecombe fit into this bizarre paradigm?

Alas where does Ann Widdecombe fit into anything!

Please lets not allow country sports to become a political tool again, leave it be. Let the law become an ass.

Frank &James I agree with both of you.I really hope that this 'insider' is not in a position of any authority or influence whatsoever.If that person thinks that after nine years of incompetence &lies from the Blair government that the most important issue facing our party is hunting,well.... words fail me.

"Either this "Tory Insider" thinks the right of the party are fools, or he's reporting the strategy of a fool."

The modernisers all think the right are fools, for not being modernisers. This Insider quote sounds like someone who invented the 21st Century Party ideas - or maybe the plan to leave the EPP.

Not sure if this is the strategy of a fool, but it may be the strategy of someone who rides to hounds in his Oxfordshire constituency.

This Tory insider doesn't seem to understand the Conservative bedrock. I can only assume that he or she is "inside" the Westminster village.

In any case, those of us who value freedom should be concerned that so many Conservative MPs voted to ban smoking this week - even in private members' clubs, when the evidence is that passive smoking does not cause serious ill-health.

If these tendencies to want to ban things they dislike continues then an incoming Conservative Government with only perhaps a small majority, would, on a free vote, be far from certain to restore hunting.

This looks to me like a small act of gesture politics by DC to reassure the Tory squires in the shires, that he is (in their world) still 'one of us', and a gent.

Perhaps this is an example where the terms "Tory traditionalist" and "Tory Right" don't necessarily mean the same thing.

Pip pip!

If you are making that disticntion betweem the right and traditionalists, Alexander, I'd have thought most traditionalists are far more upset by the loss of a commitment to grammar schools than they are excited by a commitment to bring back fox hunting. By contrast, the right are sulking over their voucher schemes, and are similarly unlikely to be placated by a pledge to allow vermin control.

I think the traditionalist/ right distinction is useful. I associate the right with more ideological views on issues like tax and school choice. Traditionalists, however, may be more likely to defend establishment attitudes on the economy/ education but, yes, James would like grammar schools and Britain to not lose more power to Brussels etc. The right, in other words, are greater enthusiasts for reform and change.

There is no doubt that there has been a dearth of thinking on the left of the party since the advent of the Thatcher theology.

The party has suffered in terms on "One Nation" politicians since the demise of Heseltine, Clarke et al.

The truly radical thinking does tend to come from the right because there seem to be so many more advocates in the party for that view. I'm sure the "One-Nation" renaissance will come but it's hard to see where its adherents are coming from.

I think the traditionalist/right distinction is interesting and is as much a comment of the diverse personalities that make up the membership of the party as much as a clear set of beliefs.

I don't think there has been a "One Nation" renaissance, Frank, because those on the left of the party have traditionally been managerialists, who accept whatever the current status quo is and merely try and run it a bit better. That's never going to be a roadmap to radical thought...

LOL...another thing not to like about the new Conservatives. I supported the hunting ban and I dont like the idea of returning to hunting again.

Indeed and the very concept of a "Conservative" party has been based on a steady pragmatism - "keeping what is best and changing what is worst".

While I wouldn't accept the manageralist point. There is less of a sense of revolution amongst traditional One Nation thinking, looking at the world as it is rather than how it should be.

There shouldn't be anything inherently unattractive about evolution not revolution as long as their are prominent voices both in and outside of Parliament. More accurately I think the left needs new thinking not necessarily radical thinking, that will also be the preserve of the self styled "radical right".

One Nation shouldn't be seen as a threat to the right either. We all live in the same coalition and must work together constructively.

I don't believe that the Tory insider quite understands the modern Conservative Party

They’re utterly clueless.

Worse still is the complete failure to grasp the nature of the evaporating core vote - the lower middle class suburbs that have either deserted the party or voted for it only grumpily. Sure, they’re mostly sympathetic to the hunters but it’s not a major concern in its own right, and is hardly a trade-off for the left-lurching silliness that Cameron has displayed elsewhere.

It’s patronising nonsense. And rather than doing anything to re-frame the party it actually bolsters the BBC/Labour depiction of conservatism as a coalition of (a) a few ‘liberal’ toffs in Notting Hill; (b) some retired colonels in the shires (who have to be placated from time to time); and (c) the toadying admirers of b.

At this rate Cameron has about 18 months before he gets IDSed.


Speaking as one who supported Clarke for the leadership, I think that there is a distinction to be drawn between a "One Nation" Conservative and a Portillista-moderniser. "One Nation" Conservatives do what they feel is best for the whole country, eschewing ideological dogma to try and better society. The downside can be an overly managerial approach and a reluctance to be truly innovative, as was the plight of the party in the 1950s and 1960s. It should be noted that, however, that during Clarke's time at the Treasury, the burden of taxation and the level of spending dropped considerably. He specifically pledged to cut the percentage of GDP spent in the public sector to 40%.

Portillistas, by contrast, seek to demonstrate that the party has changed not by arbitrarily picking fights with the grassroots. Many of the most clear policy shifts (candidate selection, vouchers, grammar schools) do not substantially register with floating voters as issues qua issues. The entire strategy is to pick an issue which the grassroots disproportionately care about (a sort of reverse dog-whistle) in order to grab headlines of "Cameron Falls out with Right" and foster the image that the party has changed.

The difference is that the latter is about PR, the former about a substantive shift.

Edit: Portillistas, I meant to say, "seek to demonstrate that the party has changed not by picking centrist policies but by arbitrarily picking fights with the grassroots".

And for the avoidance of confusion, Clarke's 40% pledge was at the last leadership contest, not during his time in office.

Thank you Alex.

Indeed it's an important distinction to make and I was specifically talking about a "One Nation" creed rather than any specific type of modernisation.

I very much agree with your post and lament the fact that there are too few committed One Nation politicians in the party as opposed to those who would use the term as a form of social policy. I've asked for fresh thinking here.

"I'm sure the "One-Nation" renaissance will come but it's hard to see where its adherents are coming from."

The failure of Sir Malcolm Rifkind's leadership bid to get off the ground and his subsequent return to the backbenches probably signalled the death knell for that generation of One-Nation thinking.

Quite Daniel,

That generation has past and although they have interesting contributions to make to politics in the future, I’m concerned at the lack of prominent candidates who would describe themselves as One Nation.

But all the leadership candidates claimed to be "One Nation" Conservatives. Is that not prominent enough for you? ;-)

Why do we even want a One Nation renaissance? New Labour has many of the traits of a One Nation Conservative Party, so surely we should aim to give the electorate a genuine choice by offering a different programme at election time?

If we look at the last One Nation Tory government, that should be reason enough to ditch this brand of conservatism. Under Heath the country experienced a three-day week, galloping inflation and the bloodiest period of the Troubles. He also took us into the EU, the issue which helped to destroy the party as a political force in the 1990s.

For the "realists" out there who are more concerned with winning elections than implementing conservative policies, remember this: out of the 4 elections he contested, Heath lost 3 of them. Is that something we should seek to emulate?

"I’m concerned at the lack of prominent candidates who would describe themselves as One Nation."

I'm not, but then again, I don't believe that continuing attempts to reanimate the rotting corpse of Butskellism is the wat forward.

I'm not proposing a return to what may be called "Heath-ism" but rather a re-invigoration of One Nation thought. This naturally is only of interest to those within or sympathetic to One Nation themselves, most of whom will be members of the Tory Reform Group.

As for the leadership candidates describing themselves as "One Nation" often this is simply a way of describing a sympathetic approach to social policy. It's often a rhetoric device rather than a genuine attempt to describe a political belief structure.

This definition of one nation on the dictionary blog may be helpful to some...

I must admit that I've always been attracted to the romanticism of Disraeli’s original "One Nation" Conservatism, though OTOH the so called 'modern' approach leaves much to be desired.

I think one problem is of the lack of strict definition of One Nation Toryism. I know there is a definition on this site but its very much an ideal and doesnt explain what attributes one nation toryism exhibits. What is a One Nation Tory and what separates them from say a liberal or a socialist, or a liberal conservative? I think Frank Young was right with his comment about it being used as a rhetorical device.

I'm not sure what this talk about the death of "One Nation Tories" is about. The "wets" seem to be alive and well to me, and are embodied in David Cameron.

"One Nation" traditionally meant a Conservatism that governed for all members of society, not beholden to a particular class. Victorian "One Nation" Conservatives rejected the notion that they should rule for the benefit of the landed or moneyed portions of society and instead seek to govern for the benefit of the country as a whole.

Today, I believe that "One Nation" entails a commitment to improving all areas of society. It means, for one, not stigmatising certain areas of society, such as single mothers, gay people or immigrants, as we have been sadly prone to do so in the past. However, "One Nation" does not mean avoiding difficult choices: all interest groups have to be taken on for the benefit of the nation as a whole. Thatcher's treatment of the trade unions was a more genuine product of "One Nation" Conservatism than Heath's capitulation to them, since by breaking these undemocratic producer monopolies the whole country was better off.

New Labour is not "One Nation", as we have seen time and again. They are in thrall to the quangocrats, as we have seen with the explosion of public sector non-jobs and the meekness in the face of public sector pension reform. They have contempt for people living in the countryside. They seek to smear those ordinary citizens such as David Kelly, Rose Addis or Pam Warren who simply try to hold the government to account. They aim to clamp down on civil liberties at the first whiff of a headline.

True "One Nation" Conservatism isn't complacent Butskellism. "One Nation" is and should be bold and radical in seeking new ways forward for our country.

I personally hope for a "rapid" return to foxhunting.

"Another thing not to like about the new Conservatives. I supported the hunting ban and I dont like the idea of returning to hunting again." - James Maskell


Alex - a lucid account and one which covers most of traditional One Nation thinking.

I think, to the contary, we will see David Cameron is not a One Nationer in the true sense but actually quite right wing. Time will tell...

I still find it amazing that anyone could possibly think that fox hunting can be traded off for creating a dynamic economy.

"David Cameron is not a One Nationer in the true sense but actually quite right wing"

What definition of right wing are you using to conclude that?

"I still find it amazing that anyone could possibly think that fox hunting can be traded off for creating a dynamic economy."

In some rural communities, bringing back fox hunting and creating a dynamic economy would not be mutually exclusive.

"In some rural communities, bringing back fox hunting and creating a dynamic economy would not be mutually exclusive."

Definately agree with you there, but with all this talk of 'one nation' it hardly covers the entire area of creating a dynamic economy.

The recurring theme in this thread of "One Nation Toryism" is touching but increasingly redundant. Instead of fretting about our internal differences of detail - we should tackle the bigger threat of erosion of our national identity.

The ICM poll today on Muslim attitudes is chilling - 40% want sharia law imposed - 20% sympathise with suicide bombers. We have not faced such a massive cultural challenge since the Norman Conquest. A large part of our population seem to want us to be just 'One Islamic Nation'

As regards Fox Hunting, where are the voices on the liberal left calling for a ban on the cruelty involved in Halal butchery - of course they wouldn't dare !!

"A large part of our population seem to want us to be just 'One Islamic Nation'"

Of the 2.7% of the UK population which are Muslim only 40% of that want Sharia law imposed, which is only 1.08% of the population. 0.54% of the total UK population sympathise with suicide bombers. Yes this is alarming but to say it is a large part of our population, is purely alarmist.

"Yes this is alarming but to say it is a large part of our population, is purely alarmist."

They are a large part of the population in certain areas. And they are likely to grow. Sure we shouldn't be alarmist, but we mustn't be complacent either. It is the latter tendency that worries me more.

"Yes this is alarming but to say it is a large part of our population, is purely alarmist."

Only 324,000 people who think suicide bombing is a legitimate step to air political and religious grievances running about then.

Sleep well.

I do find it alarming! Just dont think that it qualifies as "a large part of our population" I agree that there is no place for complacency but there is also no need for exaggerated panic.

"They are a large part of the population in certain areas"

I am very aware of this fact, I live in Rusholme.

"I still find it amazing that anyone could possibly think that fox hunting can be traded off for creating a dynamic economy."

All that has been mentioned so far is a rapid free vote. DC hasn't promised to repeal the law yet, if he will at all.

A free vote on an issue that was decided on not that long ago...sounds like the Conservatives want to repeal the law to me.

James Maskell, you still haven't mentioned why you supported the Hunting Bill.

I do think that the One Nation strand of Conservatism is alive and well (which is a good thing).

Generally the British public are a common sense, pragmatic lot, which I for one think is a good thing.

They distrust ideologues (which is why Blair has done so well,) although in times of crisis they like strong leaders. They prefer morality - the practical application of ideas, rather than abstract castles in the sky.

The dislike of ideology over intangible reality was why Socialism never won, even when the vast majority of people were working class.

Now we are the ones who seem ideological. Ideological without being moral, as we have no compass but money. And so we suffer.

But people like Willetts and Letwin are One Nation, as are those like Damien Green and others. Cameron and those around him seem to have been influenced by it. And I think that this is a good thing.

One Nation is far closer to the heart of the British people than Thatcherism, the Portillistas or libertarianism.

Regarding the Islamic issue, we need to be more assertive about UK culture without saying 'all you Muslims are nutters', making it clear that when you come to the UK it is not just a cash exchange (shock horror that we try to claim money is not everything) but that you must accept you cannot have your own Islamic schools (we are a culturally, if not actually, Christian, nation,) must speak English before you settle here (or learn on arrival), call for the stoning of gays/adulterers/jews/blasphemers/the west etc etc. Many people would still come.

We should continue to be unafraid of pointing out the dangers of rapid immigration and the failure to integrate. The problem is, lots of people on the right (libertarians) don't believe in any aspect of social cohesion, so won't stand up for these things.

I am in a good thing mood. And that's a good thing.

And before someone points out that the morality of liberalism/the right is choice itself, the point is morality does not consist of being free to choose.

It consists of the choices you make.

In response to the idea; 'what right do you have to say that' then I would argue 'what right do you have to say society should be based on choice alone'...

All morality, and indeed, all civilisation, is based on values. People who choose liberalism simply locate all value in the notion of choice. The point about society is it has to have shared values for it to have legal force, no matter how much liberals put their fingers in their ears and their hands over their eyes and pretend otherwise. And a society based on choice alone is in severe moral trouble.

You can argue choice is important (as I deeply believe) because individuals are important, but individuals are not the only thing in the world. They come from strong families and decent communities, and these too need protecting - it is a balancing act which is threatened by ideological black and white views of the world.

And that is what One Nation Conservatism is about - a shared set of values that bind us together and make us more than the atomised individuals of 19th Century Liberalism, which is what the Party, in its current state, was founded to oppose.

I feel I need to make one final point in my defence, before anyone accuses me of being in favour of socialism, this too is condemned by One Nation Tories as being abstract, remote and bureaucratic.

Further, it seeks to replace morality with economic need - I am poor therefore I am deserving. Which in New Labour Socialism speak means - I am gay/black/islamic etc. therefore I am deserving. Both of which are false - people are deserving due to their moral actions, not their socio-economic status.

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