Labour Party Conference 2012 – Why One Nation in 21st Century
I attended the Labour Party Conference in Manchester earlier this week not really knowing what to expect or what the overall message would be to take away from it.
I do now, and so does the rest of the United Kingdom following what is being acknowledged by even the sceptical media as an excellent speech by Ed Milliband centred on bringing everyone together under a One Nation banner.
Yes the nit-pickers will point out, and especially the historians that Disraeli in fact never said One Nation and that the actual title from which it came was Sybil, or The Two Nations, but for those who are interested this is what Benjamin Disraeli wrote in 1845.
“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 a different food, are ordered by different manners, and are not governed by the same laws – THE RICH AND THE POOR”
Over 167 years on it is not only interesting and alarming but downright disgraceful that it will resonate with millions of people in the UK and is being seen to exist in 21st Century Britain with a return to food banks, workers earning less than the minimum wage, homelessness going up and families and their children in increasing numbers living below the poverty line.
The question will be asked “what is or does One Nation mean”, and what importantly does it mean to the individual, families and communities in modern Britain?
This is where I share my view of being a One Nation Britain in the 21st Century which you may or may not agree with but which I think will resonate with many and in fact I am on record over the years as being a One Nationist (if there is such a word),
To start with supporting a One Nation approach is not as will undoubtedly be portrayed by the right-wing of the Tory Party as a left-wing, care-bear, and tree hugging licence for the feckless, idle and criminal classes to sponge off of the state.
On the contrary a One Nation approach rewards those who work to improve themselves, is about self-reliance and encourages innovation.
I believe that along with millions of other people when it comes to the NHS, healthcare, education and services to the elderly and vulnerable I am politically and socially to the left of centre (whatever that means) and want to see my taxes go towards protecting and delivering the services that people need.
I believe as well however that in supporting the police service, armed services, fire service and prison service in performing their roles as public servants protecting people and the country I am to the right of centre and want to see my taxes go towards providing security for my family, friends and neighbours so they can get on with their lives free from fear.
But what about the rest of the time?
I have no problem as a One Nation supporter in seeing those who work hardest to improve their own lives and the lives of others receiving the rewards for doing just that whether they are a manual worker or dare I say it the business owner or banker, nor do I have a problem as a One Nation supporter in paying my National Insurance and taxes into the treasury to be spent on improving UK plc.
What I do have a problem with is when the Government think that they have a right to interfere in every aspect of my life.
The fact is that if they provide the opportunity for everyone to maximise their talents, to have better standards of living, better education, better health and a better quality of life than the generation that went before them then all I really want is for the Government to leave me alone to get on with my life.
It is what being a One Nation is all about, bringing people together, working together, respecting each other’s differences and learning to be tolerant and cooperate with each other.
Or at least that’s my take on being One Nation.
In contrast compare that with the current Conservative – Liberal Democrat Coalition Government, a comparison that is very starkly and the exactly opposite of One Nation?
The Conservative Coalition approach is based on divide and rule, setting the north against the south, east against the west, rewarding those with and victimizing and demonising those without, neglecting the vulnerable and turning away from the disenfranchised, less able and less well off.
It is a policy of the Victorian era where the ‘toffs’ and ‘wealthy’ assume they have a right to rule and because times are tough have retreated into their “social elite castles”, drawing the drawbridge up behind them and leaving everyone else to fend for themselves.
It is the philosophy of Us (we’re right and know best) and Them (to be pitied and ignored, people of no relevance), the elite and the unworthy society that so appalled Disraeli when he travelled to the north of England in the 1800’s and which cause him to write Sybil – The Two Nations.
There will of course be those who will disparage Ed Milliband and his speech but to that I say this,
The next time a Conservative or Liberal Democrat MP talk to you ask them why they are condemning millions of young people to the scrap-heap of permanent unemployment and workers to living off of wages below the Living Wage whilst giving a £40,000 a year pay rise to millionaires?
At the local level in Northampton and across Northamptonshire when local Conservative Councillors explain to you how we’re all in this together and why it isn’t their fault that they are having to cut front line essential services ask them to explain why they voted to award themselves a 24% pay increase paid for from the very taxes they say they haven’t got?
One Nation and the Labour One Nation approach and philosophy will expose the hypocrisy and divisive nature of the Conservative – Lib Dem Coalition Government and why it is Labour who is the real and only party committed to the whole of the UK.
One Nation Labour is not as already portrayed a ‘class war’ but a war to bring people together to resolve the economic crisis and increasingly the social crisis faced by the UK, it is unquestionably a ‘political war’, a political war between those who listen (Labour) and those who Ignore (Conservatives & Lib Dem) that has to be won by One Nation Labour if we are to build a society of inclusion not exclusion.
It is going to be a very interesting run up to the next General Election and the Local Council Elections that lie between now and 2015.