Opinion: Is One Nation Conservatism The Key To Victory ?


Holly Whitbread discusses why she believes there should be a simplistic Conservative rebranding so the party remains loyal to traditional conservative values, appeals to all hard working British people and distances themselves from PR gimmicks. 

The rhetoric of the ‘left’ centers around the idea of ‘them and us’. Playing upon the pre-existing class and wealth divisions within our society. Labour continues to self-promote their ‘exclusive’ relationship with the working class, whilst naïvely claiming widespread appeal as a consequence of their ‘social conscience’, as though they exclusively, provide and protect welfare. This sense of ownership, of the working class, was clearly demonstrated on the 1st April when Ed Miliband released a letter that perpetrated to show more than a 100 signatures of “working people” across Britain backing a Labour government in the coming general election. This was in retaliation to the momentous open letter that saw 100-business leaders in the country declaring their support for a Conservative government and warning of the dangers of a “change of course”. Furthermore, Labour continues to accuse the Conservatives of elitist social bias, particularly shown through their simplistic criticism of an austere Conservative economy. For example in March 2015 Ed Balls made the accusation that Conservative spending plans could lead to the NHS charging.

This should not continue. Pre-existing notions of political alignment should be broken down and removed from popular consciousness. Whilst the sense of alienation that the Conservative Party traditionally has with working class issues should be tackled head on.   It would be wrong to approach the situation by putting on a façade reminiscent of UKIP’s ‘Beer Swilling’ Nigel Farage, who may, mistakenly, be seen as a representative voice for the right amongst the working class.

Instead, there should be a simplistic rebranding where Conservative Party ideology takes center stage. With ideas of mass appeal such as: freedom, individual responsibility, social justice, economic efficiency, the strength of the free market and an emphasis on the importance of the community, family, equality, diversity and civil liberties. An agenda for leadership should be set out, with a transparent, honest and comprehensive manifesto. Staying loyal to traditional conservative values and distancing the party from PR gimmicks. Offering a fair and clear option, which appeals to and benefits all hard working British people regardless of pre-conceived stereotypes. Through genuine policies, that will promote national growth whilst being grounded in the reality of modern Britain. This would encompass the concept of One-Nation Conservatism.

This phrase originates from Victorian Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli (1804–1881) but resonates today. Used by Boris Johnson in the current campaign and coined by the Tory Reform Group in recent years. It has been linked with the political style of David Cameron and his compassionate conservatism. Through One-Nation Conservatism pragmatic policies are applied whilst considering a wider ‘paternalistic’ role in terms of national responsibility – with some obligation to help people less fortunate. Today this would be most embodied through the enshrinement of the NHS. This form of Conservatism is designed to have widespread appeal.

If this traditional idea was rewritten in a realistic contemporary context it could be important to the development and electability of the Modern Conservative Party. Allowing the Conservatives to be representative of a ‘united Britain’ with a politics routed in rationality beyond outdated perception of geographical and class orientated divisions, with an emphasis on national pride and identity. Although it would be idealistic to suggest that the traditional allegiances could completely collapse, floating voters, UKIP supporters, the apathetic and the disillusioned may be drawn in by a re-branded Conservatism with straightforward solutions in this era of fragmented politics.

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One Comment

  1. Jacqueline Mitton says:

    Holly – I completely agree with you. I’ve been really sad to see the old generation of declared ‘One Nation’ Conservatives all out of positions of influence apparently with no younger generation Conservative politicians following in their footsteps and recognising the potential wide appeal of this centre-ground ideological position. In this election campaign, young people voting for the first time are saying they don’t know what the different political parties stand for. I’m not sure I know what the Conservative Party stands for any more after more than 25 years as a member. What can we do to put ideology back at the centre of political debate?