, 34 tweets, 14 min read Read on Twitter
A thread with my critique of today's Guardian piece promoting the launch of the declaration of values and& priorities by the One Nation Group established by Amber Rudd and co. I should be clear that I'm a centre-right liberal Conservative & an ex New Labour party member. [1]
Where to start? I'm not really the biggest admirer of the contemporary iteration of the "One Nation" political ethos in British politics as it tends to get unhelpfully conflated with more authentically centre-right liberal Conservatism. But I'm not deeply hostile to the ethos [2]
I also feel some of the key people involved in the One Nation Group haven't necessarily covered themselves in glory in recent months in terms of their approach to the great issue of the day and age - Brexit. But I've tried my best to approach the article with an open mind. [3]
The piece begins with a bold assertion that all would be Conservative Leadership candidates should publicly declare themselves aligned to the principles/values set out in the declaration they self-evidently hold to be true. These One Nation MPs don't lack for self-confidence. [4]
The ONG argue that "Brexit has divided the country & the Conservative party like nothing since Irish Home Rule or the Corn Laws. This crisis of division risks not just public trust in democracy, but a decade of decline."
My take: "Decline". They're in no mood to mince words [5]
"The only way we can prosper as an independent country is if we come together as One Nation – all four parts of the Union, North & South, Remain & Leave – and make crisis the catalyst for a moment of inspiring reunion and renewal."
My take: This is code for a very soft Brexit [6]
"All of us believe that the next PM must honour the EU referendum result. But they must do so in a way that unites the 52% &the 48%."

My take: This is a familiar tune, and has had no real takers to date. Thatcher's view on consensus springs to mind. Rhetorical candyfloss [7]
"This is the time to tackle the underlying grievances that drove the Brexit vote & address the major issues, like the environment, that threaten our very future."

My take: I realise many ONG Mps were star-struck by Greta Thunberg's recent HoC visit, but this feels spurious [8]
My take continued: Environmental sustainability and climate change are genuinely important issues where the UK has made a lot of process since 2010. More can be done but I can't fathom how they've concluded concerns over the environment played a big role in the Leave vote? [9]
My take: I also think the line about the "underlying grievances that drove the Brexit vote" speaks to an unconscious bias here. They see Brexit as an irrational vote against "reason" and have concluded they must "heal a broken society" to put the UK back on a track to the EU [10]
ONG:"Brexit can be a moment to reframe the UK’s role in the world as a force for good: using our soft power & through our aid, trade & security commitments to help lead the new fourth Industrial Revolution of sustainable, clean, green, smart development."
My take: This is OK [11]
My take: I'm a strong believer that the UK should be outward looking and should play a strong role for good on the world stage. So no conceptual objection to any of this, but I think "the 4th industrial revolution" will set the pulse of wonks racing but pass many Tories by. [12]
My take: We absolutely should be trying to carve out global competitive advantages in terms of low carbon technologies, data science, AI & so on. But this is not groundbreakingly new, and it's not all that stirring as a political rallying call for a centre-right resurgence. [13]
"To do that, however, we need to be clear about what One Nation conservatism is. That means setting out our values. The new generation of millennial voters are not tribal in their political affiliation."

My take: I've not found many people on the right who think they are. [14]
So what are our core One Nation values? We believe in the importance of the United Kingdom, and reject narrow nationalism of all kinds. We believe in our global responsibilities to maintain our commitments on aid and trade and security.
My take: Fine for the most part... [15]
...My take cont: "Global responsibilities"? I think this is the wrong way to pitch it to centre right +right of centre voters. Most aren't starry eyed globalists. They'll back free trade, international aid & security commitments if they see it framed in the national interest [16]
"We believe the state must have an active role in fighting injustices & that there is such a thing as society, embodied in a new social contract between all of us as citizens."

My take: An unfortunate tip into Mayism/Milibandism. The line could easily be in an IPPR report [17]
My take continued: Have the ONG authors of this piece and their declaration really not clocked the 2017 GE manifesto & the forests of articles written since then about the folly of fouling our own nest by using the trope of "burning injustices" as a reform framing mission? [18]
Before I saw the light & realised I really was philosophically centre-right, I was in Labour. So there's a fair bit I can forgive in terms of language, but for the ONG to start life by introducing itself as a political movement committed to "fighting injustices" is tin-eared [19]
The ONG in the piece: "We believe that properly funded public services are the key to our wellbeing as a nation."
My take: This is the most disappointing line in the whole piece. No mention of reform to transform public services. No emphasis on choice, voice & accountability [20]
My take cont: By opting to simply state they are committed to the principle of "properly funded" public services they are in effect writing a blank cheque for the left in this country & the producer interest lobby groups to fill in. It's naive language & will annoy Tories. [21]
My take cont: Most Conservatives - from Grieve to David Davis would accept that decent public services are essential to modern life and the wellbeing of the country. We don't need vacuous rhetoric about loving the NHS & pledges to never knowingly underfund the public sector. [22]
ONG: "We believe in free enterprise – and the power of good regulation to protect consumers and embody society’s values."

I mostly agree with this & those who believe in free markets should want to empower not just "protect" consumers. I'm slightly wary of the last bit. [23]
My take: I'd be concerned by what the ONG mean in practice in terms of their principle that the regulation of markets and businesses should be embodied by "society's values". In the wrong hands that's a charter for the woke to constrict markets and morally police businesses. [24]
"We believe in universal human rights as priority for a Conservative government, & will always be vocal about the role of a free press & open debate in protecting our democracy."

My take: I prefer the old fashioned term: Freedom. I want freedom blended with responsibility [25]
ONG: "Not everyone in the Conservative party will agree with these values. That’s the point. These are values worth fighting for. We should not just stand on these values but passionately champion them."
My take: OK- but surely they'd be better trying to find common ground? [26]
ONG: "The greatest danger our party faces is being overtaken by a divisive and populist movement masquerading as “true”, “grassroots” conservatism. We have all seen the growing tide of extremism gripping the Republican party in America."

My take: Maybe try to reconnect? [27]
ONG: "Our nation is at a crossroads & so is our party. The next PM must redefine Brexit as a One Nation project. If they don't, the door will be wide open for Britain’s first-ever Marxist government & a likely decade of decline."
My take: We've had a One Nation PM since 2016 [28]
My take continued: We've also had a One Nation dominated cabinet and domestic policy agenda since 2016. We're next to nowhere as a result of it. We've also had, since the General Election result in June 2017, an increasingly soft Brexit strategy. We're now at 9% in the polls [29]
My take overall: This article trailing the forthcoming ONG declaration feels very "safe" and familiar. I don't honestly see anything ground-breakingly new here. TBF I think they make some very sound points about needing to be forward-looking and outward-looking party. But... [30]
...I just don't see any new answers to the electoral difficulties we face as a party nor the economic/social challenges the UK faces. We need to renew our sense of purpose +take a battle of ideas to Labour, but to do we need to hear more from liberal Tories like Raab & Truss [31]
My take: That's not to say there can't be a voice & a role within the Conservative movement for the One Nation Group.But the malaise we find ourselves in as a party has a good deal to do with them. We need a bold agenda framed around freedom, opportunity, reform & enterprise [32]
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