To Baldwin [pictured right], it was what Disraeli almost said, but didn’t. Alastair Lexden records that it was later reinvented, post-war, as a product of Angus Maude’s “powerful political mind”: the state should “provide a minimum standard, above which people should be free to rise.” During the 1980s, it became a code for anti-Thatcherism and Keynesian economics.
More recently, it has served as one for pro-EU and social liberal sentiment. Now Boris Johnson is reinventing it all over again as a way of describing his midlands-and-northern focused, infrastucture-friendly, pro-NHS, migration-suspicious, tough on crime and interventionist “boosterism”.
But whichever version you prefer, Party activists are a bit wary of it – at least if our survey, which presented four options on the subject, is to be believed.
Only two per cent, a tiny sliver of the whole, are unambiguously opposed to it. Add those who think that there is very little to be said to it, and one still registers under a tenth of the whole.
About a third are clearly supportive of it, and of government intervention in the economy. That’s about the same proportion as voted for Jeremy Hunt in this year’s leadership election. Both seem to us good snapshots of the strength of the centre-left of the Party. A further three in five believe that there’s a lot to be said for a One Nation pitch.
But they also are distrustful of interventionist politics, and nervous of this government straying too far from Conservative principles. So if the figures are sliced and diced another way, they show that some seven on ten members, a clear majority, view One Nation with emotions ranging from suspicion to hostility.