LibLink: Richard Reeves on One Nationism

Over at the CentreForum blog, Richard Reeves, former Director of Strategy to Nick Clegg and now associate director of CentreForum, has a post discussing the “political movement that now sweeps all before it”: One Nationism.

Here’s an extract:

All the main political parties have now made their claim to be the true heirs to “One Nation” politics.

The Conservatives were ahead of the game by a century or so, of course. But in more recent years, non Tory leaders have turned to One Nationism to pitch for the centre ground: though none as audaciously as Ed Miliband this week.

In 1995, Tony Blair said that both Labour and the Conservatives were parties “in a state of transition. As the critical mass in the Tory party moves further and further to the right, it is Labour that is increasingly the party of the centre and the left of centre”. The “one nation” mantle, Blair said, “no longer fits the Tories. It is draped rightly around our shoulders”.

And in his spring conference speech this year, Nick Clegg said:

The Liberal Democrats are once again a truly national party of government. The only party of the centre ground, not of the left or right, of north or south, rich or poor but doing the right thing for the whole nation. The other parties are bound and gagged by vested interests. We are not. The other parties are hemmed into certain parts of the country. Look at the electoral map: blue seats in the south, red ones in the north. Look at where the money comes from: trade unions on one side, City financiers on the other. That is why we can say today: the Liberal Democrats are the only true one nation party. A one nation party of the radical centre, representing all regions and nations. Seeing not what divides us – but what unites us. Sound on the economy, passionate about fairness: doing the right thing and battling vested interests. Challenging the status quo.

There was quite of bit of internal soul searching about this speech. Some colleagues feared that the “one nation” claim would upset the more traditional social democrats in the party who would recognize it as a Tory phrase. Given party discomfort about the Coalition, and a false sense of Nick being ‘on the right’ of the party, this was a reasonable enough concern. But Nick thought that if anyone could honestly claim the one nation label, it was the Liberal Democrats – and that we might as well seize it.

You can read the rest of Reeves’ very interesting analysis on the CentreForum blog here.

* Nick Thornsby is a day editor at Lib Dem Voice.

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This entry was posted in LibLink.


  • I’m bored of it already.
    What was he going to say – ‘I want a divided country’?
    It might be old hat but it has worked before.
    Remember ‘One People, One Nation, One Leader’?
    That worked for a while.

  • Sorry, how on earth has this man achieved this status? Is he being paid? Or is it just for the glory!

  • Tim13. Concur totally.

  • Simon Titley 4th Oct '12 - 8:28pm

    Every time anyone talks up Richard Reeves, all you have to do is remember that is was Reeves who invented that winning slogan, “Alarm Clock Britain”.

  • cynicalHighlander 4th Oct '12 - 10:00pm

    Political Compass and as your party is becoming more authoritarian by the day to call yourselves centrist is self delusion. One Nation is a right wing ideology which the 3 Westminster parties are vying for a sad day for ‘democracy ‘ (sic) in the UK.

  • I’m sorry wasn’t he meant to have gone across the pond so his kids could go to school their. Couldn’t Reeves go and offer his effective brand of Strategy Advice to some Republican politician and do the world a favour?

  • Tony Dawson 5th Oct '12 - 1:46am

    Is Richard Reeves the new Mark Littlewood? After leaving our Party’s centre in disgrace he appears to be getting more publicity than if he had stayed in a broom cupboard.

  • Liberal Neil 5th Oct '12 - 10:19am

    I used to think Richard Reeves was a very clever man who had been given the wrong job as Director of Strategy. I’m now starting to doubt the first bit.

  • Richard Dean 5th Oct '12 - 10:28am

    This discussion seems to have become a very cosy hate club. What has this poor fellow done to deserve this?

  • Paul Pettinger 5th Oct '12 - 11:08am

    This is a continuation of a disastrous strategy, inappropriate for a Party that portrayed itself in contrast to Blair’s mushy centrism, which makes another tragic error by then conflating classical liberalism with a move to the centre.

  • Liberal Neil 5th Oct '12 - 11:15am

    Richard – basically he wrote the strategy that has so ill-served the party since the formation of the coalition.

    To be fair to him it is as much the fault of those that appointed him and chose to take his advice.

  • Keith Browning 5th Oct '12 - 1:10pm

    95% of us are already ‘one nation’. Its just those at the top of the pyramid that don’t want to join in. Problem is that the vast majority of those who claim how to govern the rest of us, better than we can do ourselves, are in the isolated 5%.

    They have second homes in France, but hate the EU, they pay their tax to Jersey and have their ‘wealth adviser’ in New York or Frankfurt. They know the price of a bottle of Bolly but not a pint of milk and they think we should all be educated in square buildings, because its cheaper.

    ‘One nationism’ ought to be about co-operatives – banks and businesses run by the people who use them and clearly working for the public good.

    To be honest, Milliband and Clegg both show severe signs they are part of the 5%. When a member of the 95% begins to promote ‘one nationism’ then I might see a little light at the end of the tunnel.

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