Sunday, July 24, 2005

One Nation Leader

Crispin Blunt is putting the case for Malcolm Rifkind. He says:

'Rifkind is the most articulate advocate of One Nation Conservatism, which combined with unequalled political judgement and personal qualities of charm, decency and humour can provide us with a leader of a cabinet of ‘all the talents'...He is a genuine One Nation Conservative.'

Meaning?

'He knows that the party must appeal across ethnic, social and other minority divides, which it has failed to do for the last eight years. One Nation means the whole of Britain geographically as well as metaphorically – Malcolm can revive the party beyond the limits of the South East and the countryside.'

Well, yes...except that none of the leadership contenders would argue with any of that. I'm sure Crispin gives it his best shot, but to be frank, the whole thing comes across as a bit half-hearted. Maybe it's Rifkind's slim odds (14/1), or maybe it's because gentlemen never get too excited about anything.

And all that One Nation stuff...I must admit I've never really 'got it'. Blunt's reference to 'One Nation liberalism' is particularly baffling.

We know what Disraeli said:

"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; Who Are Formed By A Different Breeding, Are Fed By Different Food, Are Ordered By Different Manners, And Are Not Governed By The Same Laws."

But if we want a leader who can bridge that gap, one candidate is ideally qualified. And it's not Rifkind.

The truth of course, is that One Nationism these days is code for something else. Blue Labour, New Labour Lite, call it what you like. It boils down to Big Statism.
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