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One Nation and Thatcherite Ideas Within Modern British Conservatism Essay Sample

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One Nation and Thatcherite Ideas Within Modern British Conservatism Essay Sample

Thatcherite and One Nation principles are ultimately a clash of ideas and are inherently contradictory. The main concept of One Nation is paternalism, the idea of social obligation. An organic society as suggested by Disraeli is held together by an acceptance of duty and obligation; the rich therefore should shoulder the burden of social responsibility, which is essence the price of privilege. One-nation ideas are the ‘middle-way’ approach, which tolerates welfarism and interventionism.

Thatcherism clearly clashes with these ideas in that it wishes to roll back the state in economic matters, to allow the liberty and dynamism of the free economy to run freely without any state intervention. Thatcherite ideas are essentially those of the New Right, which is influenced by the ideas of Hayak. The New Right is a marriage between two contrasting ideological traditions. Classical liberal economics, specifically free market theories- neoliberalism and neo-conservatism in its defence of order, authority and discipline.

These ideas were revealed in Thatcher as she performed privatisation on many public services but also advocated a strong state. During the Thatcher government, one-nation ideas were virtually abandoned due to her idea of them being ‘wets’ and traitors to conservatism. The defeat of Thatcher, led by her own party revealed to unpopularity of her radical New Right ideas, and the party attempted to escape the electoral liabilities of the New Right legacy. Major is often accused of being a ‘closet one nationer’ due to his enthusiasm to reform public services e.g. N.HS. However, he displayed qualities of a radical ‘Thatcherite’ despite being endorsed by Thatcher he privatised the railways, displaying threads of neo-liberal economics, also he advocated the ‘back to basics’ campaign which promoted tradition, order and stability. His critic’s spoke of Major being internally confused; a social ‘wet’ and economic ‘dry’.

The immense loss of votes in the 1997 election and the resignation of Major led to a major rethink in policies. To some extent, many were led to believe that at the beginning of Hague’s term he applied one-nation ideas to policies e.g. inclusiveness, however this was soon to change during the period. The ‘fresh start’ promised a return to the centre for the Conservative party, to dispel the ‘New Right’ image commonly associated with the party. The aim of the promise was to portray of openness and inclusiveness, thus Hague’s appearance in London multi-cultural event, Notting Hill Carnival. It is observed however, that Hague gained popularity by running back to social intolerance -neo-conservatism that he is often criticised for.

The appointment of Portillo as Hague’s shadow chancellor who brought about policy shifts such accepting the minimum wage and abandoning of ‘tax guarantee’ incorporating one-nation ideas, which is to minimise social divisions. Tensions within the conservative became apparent during the 2000 party conference between ‘modernisers’ and traditionalists; tolerance versus non-tolerance, essentially one-nation ideas of pragmatism against the neo-conservatism view. The breakdown in the conservative party, and the nationalist approach taken by Hague in the 2001 only gained the party I additional seat, revealing that the stance taken by the party had failed them electorally. The resignation of Hague in 2001 led to a leadership contest, which presented the opportunity the party to revaluate its leader since Thatcher. Portillo offered an ‘escape route since Thatcherism’, the removal of neo-conservatism from his proposed policy changes by including inclusiveness for example race, homosexuality. The party showing unwillingness to change from New Right to One Nation ideas rejected this option.

Iain Duncan Smith similarly to Hague was very much a candidate of the New Right, endorsed by Thatcher. He tried to give the party a fresh start, ‘Portilloism without Portillo’, however he often criticised for being incoherent in his policy shifts e.g. reforming public services e.g. hospitals. He showed more interest in public services revealing to extent a shift in ideas.

From his defeat, Michael Howard were elected to the conservative party, it seemed that history was repeating itself, as he promised a return to the centre. Also he advocated same sex partnerships, showing a more inclusive conservative against the principles of neo-conservatism which believes that moral and cultural diversity are associated with rootlessness and personal security.

To conclude, it could be argued that the balance between one nation and Thatcherite is been thrown off balance due to New Labour’s strategy. Blair’s ‘third way’ has now positioned New Labour in the centre, even the centre right.

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