In the United Kingdom right now, the country is more divided than it has ever been in the history of this nation. What is the catalyst for all this? Brexit. When the people of the United Kingdom decided two years ago that we, as a country, would separate from the European Union and become a sovereign nation and regain our status as a world power once more.
The debate in the lead up to the referendum was fraught with angry sentiments from both sides, as well as threats of economic decimation should the UK vote to leave. The risks of undocumented migrants continuing to arrive in overwhelming numbers on British shores due to the EU’s Freedom of Movement law was also a crucial concern in the referendum.
However, the debate that took place then is made to look like a chat between friends over a cup of coffee when compared to the current trajectory of political discourse. We, as a nation, are headed toward Brexit Day on March 29, 2019— that much is certain. However, the divisions that have opened up following the referendum and during the negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union are more significant than those before the referendum.
The Conservative Party currently in government in the United Kingdom are being torn apart from the inside through infighting between colleagues in the Houses of Parliament and between Conservative Party members on social media platforms. This was not helped by the Prime Ministers so-called ‘Chequers deal.’ This deal was meant to be the saving grace for the government; something to put this issue on the books once and for all and unify the party, and the people behind the Brexit cause.
The deal has done anything but that, and we now risk the possibility of crashing out without an agreement between the EU and the UK, or we remain a ‘vassal state’ of the European Union. However, there may be a solution to the divides that have now become chasms within political discourse in the United Kingdom, and it comes from the late nineteenth century and the brainchild of British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli— One-nation Conservatism.
One-nation Conservatism is the belief that the government should become more paternalistic in its attempts to progress society by removing the focus on the landed aristocracy at the time, and using government social reforms to help the working class. Although this was over a century ago, there is something that is frighteningly relevant about this political philosophy. The working class now, as well as at the time of Disraeli. feel left behind and surrounded by the same economic situation.
David Cameron, Theresa May’s predecessor, attempted to modernize the Conservative Party and revive his own form of ‘Progressive Conservatism,’ but, as Simon Griffiths argued, it was not in line with the philosophy of Disraeli but more akin to that of Margaret Thatcher— who effectively abandoned the notion of post-war one-nation Conservatism in favor of politics that focused on individualism.
Furthermore, although to some extent the socio-economic policies did alleviate some of the pressures on the working class, they did not go far enough, and the vote to leave the EU is evidence of that. The areas that voted most heavily to leave the EU were Northern, former industrial centers with large working-class demographics that had been plunged into poor economic circumstances following the closure of industry in the mid-80s.
That is why a return to a true one-nation Conservatism must be taken seriously as a possible method of writing the wrongs of the previous governments ranging right back to the abandonment of the beliefs by Mrs. Thatcher in favor of individualism. This move arguably led to the same feeling of ‘being left behind’ among the working class strata of society, and led to the major divisions between ‘rich’ and ‘poor’ we see today.
If we are to return to a nation that is unified and stronger as a result, then government intervention to aid those at the bottom of the social ladder to help them feel a part of the society they feel disconnected from will be beneficial for national prosperity as a whole.
The disunity that is currently tearing the country apart as a whole is a result of the forgetting about the working class communities of the North and in the South Wales Valleys. This has now manifested itself into mass political apathy which threatens to damage the nation beyond measure for years to come. One-nation Conservatism offers a solution to this. It is time we acknowledged that and utilized it for the greater good of the United Kingdom.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.