Learning lessons from One Nation politics

Published: 5 July 2013 at 15:43

Anglia Ruskin academic Dr Richard Carr to launch new book at Westminster event

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.

Dr Carr will officially launch his e-book, One Nation Britain: History, the progressive tradition, and practical lessons for today’s politicians, at a special debate on the subject on Tuesday, 9 July.

Joining Dr Carr at the event in Westminster, organised by the independent think-tank Localis, will be 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.

Long identified with progressive Conservatism, and recently appropriated by the Labour Party, Dr Carr’s book shows how all three major parties have made a significant contribution to the One Nation agenda over the past 150 years. 

It highlights specific policies advocated by leading One Nation names, 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, who is a member of Anglia Ruskin’s Labour History Research Unit, said:

“Until Ed Miliband re-focused 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.”

Rachel Reeves MP, Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said:

“This work shows that investment in national infrastructure, a living wage, and a politics that emphasises jobs for all has significant historical precedent.”
“This is an important work which throws up some interesting lessons from history,” added Jon Cruddas MP, the Labour Party’s Policy Review Coordinator.  “Manifesto writing is drawing ever nearer for all parties – books such as this play a crucial role in opening up minds, highlighting previous One Nation consensus and encouraging the new thinking our country needs.”

Tuesday’s debate is entitled “What is One Nation politics and who is the One Nation party today?” and further details are available by visiting www.localis.org.uk

For further information about Dr Carr and his book, which includes a foreword written by Tristram Hunt MP, please visit www.anglia.ac.uk/richardcarr