No intellectual tradition in British Conservatism has a more distinguished pedigree than ‘One Nation’. No other political phrase has flourished for so long as a desirable cover for political activity. The phrase, and the ideas to which it is attached, stem from Disraeli’s novel Sybil, whose purpose was to attack the division of Britain into ‘Two Nations’, the rich and the poor. Disraeli’s purpose was to show that there were no inherent divisions in society, and that the Conservative Party’s objective was to represent all sections and groups. He committed the Party to ‘the elevation of the condition of the people’ as its ultimate aim, and it is the attempt to achieve that sweeping ambition which has been the underlying driver of successive generations of ‘One Nation’ thinkers and politicians.
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