Learning lessons from One Nation politics

Published: 16 August 2013 at 13:35

One Nation launch

Anglia Ruskin academic Dr Richard Carr launches new book at Westminster event

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A new book examining the concept of One Nation politics, its history and its re-emergence under Labour Party leader Ed Miliband, has been released by Dr Richard Carr, Research Fellow at Anglia Ruskin University member of the Labour History Research Unit.

Dr Carr officially launched his e-book, One Nation Britain: History, the progressive tradition, and practical lessons for today's politicians, at a special debate in Westminster on Tuesday, 9 July (pictured).

The event, organised by independent think-tank Localis, was also attended by Labour MP John Denham, Liberal Democrat peer Lord Shipley, and David Skelton, the former Deputy Director of Policy Exchange and a Conservative Parliamentary candidate at the last election.

Dr Carr's book shows how the One Nation agenda, long identified with progressive Conservatism and recently appropriated by the Labour Party, has been significantly contributed to by all three major parties over the past 150 years. It highlights leading One Nation names who have advocated specific policies advocated, such as Macmillan on a national minimum wage, Lloyd George on bringing forward infrastructure investment to lower the welfare bill, and Keynes on a Financial Transaction Tax (FTT).

Dr Carr said:

"Until Ed Miliband refocused attentions on the concept at last year's Labour Party conference, One Nation had generally been understood as a kind of caring and socially engaged Conservatism. It was as much about language and image as it was about concrete policy. Partly, as the book shows, this is because Tories tend to do 'big ideas' less readily than Labour.

"Labour's One Nation - because of the more ideologically-focused nature of the party - will inevitably be a little more concrete. But today, not least because of the current economic crisis, there is a pressing need to define precisely what One Nation means in practice. History gives some clues. Broadly, it is about standing up for national interests over sectional interests.

"It is about a system where all contribute - whether in the lowest or highest tax band. In short, it is about a politics where relationships matter, where everyone plays their part, and where the tax system engenders a more equal relationship between rich and poor."

Commenting on Dr Carr's book, former Liberal Democrat leader Charles Kennedy MP said: "Bringing a fresh angle to the One Nation debate, this book provides a keen historical and political insight, incorporating old and new ideas in an intriguing examination of this ideology."

In a recent presentation at Anglia Ruskin University (below), Dr Carr outlined some practical suggestions as to what One Nation politics might mean in the twenty-first century, and where the historical precedents for this agenda lie, at a recent Anglia Ruskin University event. He is joined by Professor Rohan McWilliam and Dr Jon Davis (co-directors of the Labour History Research Unit at Anglia Ruskin University).

For more information about the book (which includes a foreword written by Tristram Hunt MP) please contact Dr Richard Carr.