Starkey Advises Cameron To Go For England
......Ever since Disraeli’s refounding of the Tory Party in the mid-19th century, the idea of the Nation has been central to the Conservatives’ appeal. Too often, no doubt, in the Victorian period it took the form of aggression and colonial conquest. But recent events have given it a new respectability. For only the nation state — as the debacle of the euro makes clear — can offer any sort of guarantee of democracy or prosperity. It is not a perfect instrument, of course, but at least it is better than the bureaucratic imperialism of European institutions.
The idea of the nation also speaks to our present domestic discontents. For the gap between super-rich and poor is nothing new. It was, once again, Disraeli who characterised it most vividly and offered the solution in One Nation Toryism. He widened the franchise to incorporate the respectable working man into the political nation; Stanley Baldwin and King George V went further and used decorations and ermine to make the trade unions and the Labour Party a part of the political establishment.
For Mr Cameron to follow in their footsteps he must look to both ends of the social spectrum. He must use education and social policy to reintegrate disaffected black and poor white people into society, and he must Anglicise the international rich who have turned the pseudo city-state of London into another Monaco. Teaching them the traditional British values of good manners and restraint would be a good place to start and next year’s Jubilee an excellent learning opportunity.Above all, he must confront the issue of national identity. For how can we all be “in it together” if we do not know who we are?
It is also a question of low political cunning. For Labour’s vote is ripe for the picking. Its core supporters, the blue-collar workers, are the most straightforwardly patriotic group in the country. But modern Labour is the anti-patriotic party, denying the very idea of national identity itself. Disraeli “dished the Whigs”. Mr Cameron’s renewed One Nation Toryism would dish Labour and make the Tories, once again, the natural party of government.
The challenge is indeed enormous. But then Mr Cameron, like Henry VIII, is at his best in a crisis. Go for it: England expects!
David Starkey is author of Crown & Country: The Kings & Queens of England (HarperPress)