The Conservatives are banging on about “One Nation” again. This is hardly a new idea: Benjamin Disraeli coined the term in his novel, Sybil, Or The Two Nations.
Disraeli knew that after working class men were given the vote in 1867, the Tories must appeal to them if they were to remain electable. He also believed that the rich upper classes had obligations to the poor. It was patronising but his government passed a number of social reforms that improved the lot of working people, including legalising the right to strike.
So is Cameron’s government returning to these paternalistic ideals? Hardly. More erosion of trade union powers, nibbling away at social housing, freezing benefit levels and the vague promise of £12 billion cuts to welfare. This is “One Nation” in name only, a meaningless catchphrase. David Cameron should go back to his history books.