2 Oct 2012

Ed Miliband’s ‘one nation’ theme

Ed Miliband has summoned up the Disraelian lesson of “two nations” for his speech to the conference.

His background, he said, made him “one nation Labour.” Disraeli made his “one nation” speech round the corner from where Ed M is standing, and the account of urban poverty in the fictional town of Mowbray in Disraeli’s novel “Sybil” was based on Manchester.

If you think you’ve heard one nation Labour before as a phrase, maybe it was here – Chuka Umunna’s pamphlet: “My Vision for One Nation Labour?”

Or maybe it was way back in 1997 when Tony Blair said this to the Labour Party conference:

“After 18 long years of Opposition, of frustration and despair, I am proud, privileged, to stand before you as the new Labour Prime Minister of our country.

“I believe in Britain.

“I believe in the British people.

“One cross on the ballot paper.  One nation was reborn. ”

Tony Blair came back to the phrase in 2004 at the Labour Party conference: “It is New Labour that now wears the one nation mantle.”

Of course, countless Tories have revived the theme over the years – not least David Cameron and John Major.

Well, it was back big-time today in Ed Miliband’s speech. But slogans minted for conference speeches have tended to have shortish shelf-lives – the exception being New Labour New Britain. We’ll see if this one lasts any longer.

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