Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- For the Australian political party, see One Nation Party.
The expression One Nation is used in political debate in the United Kingdom to refer to the moderate wing of the Conservative Party, who like to describe themselves as "One Nation Conservatives." By this they mean that they seek a nation characterised by social solidarity and harmony between classes, rather than a nation polarised into "two nations" along class lines. Harold MacMillan, prime minister from 1957 to 1963, is usually seen as the leading exponent of One Nation Conservatism.
The term derives indirectly from one of Benjamin Disraeli's political novels, Sybil, or the Two Nations, in which he described Britain as "Two nations between whom there is no intercourse and no sympathy; who are as ignorant of each other's habits, thoughts, and feelings, as if they were dwellers in different zones, or inhabitants of different planets: the rich and the poor."
In his 2000 MacMillan Lecture, the Conservative front-bencher Damian Green MP asked "Who Needs One Nation Conservatism?" He answered: "My answer to the question posed tonight, 'Who needs One Nation Conservatism?' is first the Conservative Party, and secondly the British people. The current public debate on this topic is most peculiar. Many of those who for years have led the forces of One Nation Conservatism are now excoriated as dinosaurs by certain commentators. At the same time the One Nation label has never been so much in demand. Tony Blair wastes no opportunity to try on, at least in his rhetoric, this comfortable old Tory garment. He looks uncomfortable in it, for reasons I will describe later. Rather more convincing is our own leader William Hague, who on 26 January of this year said, 'The Conservative Party I feel at home in is the party of One Nation reflecting the whole nation'."
As this quotation illustrates, many Conservatives have tried since the party went into opposition in 1997 to reclaim the "One Nation" ideal for their party, but (like William Hague) have found their way blocked by Tony Blair and his New Labour agenda espousing the Third Way in British politics.
- For One Nation, then and now (Tory Reform Group website)
- Who needs One Nation Conservatism? MacMillan Lecture by Damian Green MP
- Reclaim one nation: the Conservatives must rediscover how to contest the only ground that offers hope of power (New Statesman article)
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