On this twentieth anniversary of the death of John Smith, the One Nation Society seeks a broad alliance between the confidently urban and the confidently rural, between the confidently metropolitan and the confidently provincial, between the confidently secular and the confidently religious, between those confident in their liberal social values and those confident in their conservative social values. It seeks that alliance across all ethnic groups, across all social classes, and across all parts of the country: One Nation.
The basis of that alliance includes the contribution-based Welfare State, with contribution defined to include, for example, caring for children and caring for elderly relatives. It includes workers’ rights, with the trade unionism necessary in order to defend and advance them. It includes John Smith’s signature policy that employment rights must begin on the first day of employment, and apply regardless of the number of hours worked.
That basis includes community organising. It includes profit-sharing and similar arrangements: not “shares for rights”, but shares and rights. It includes the co-operative movement and wider mutualism, not least in the provision of financial services, especially following the loss of the Co-op Bank precisely because it was not itself a co-operative, but was merely owned by one.
That basis includes consumer protection. It includes strong communities. It includes fair taxation. It includes full employment, with low inflation. It includes pragmatic public ownership, including of the utilities, of the postal service and of the railway service, and always with strong parliamentary and municipal accountability. It includes publicly owned industries and services, national and municipal, setting the vocational training standards for the private sector to match.
That basis includes local government, itself including council housing, fiscal autonomy, the provision as well as the commissioning of services, the accountability provided by the historic committee system, and the abolition of delegated planning decisions.
That basis includes the State’s restoration of the economic foundation of the civilised and civilising worker-intellectual culture historically exemplified by the pitmen poets and the pitmen painters, by the brass and silver bands, by the Workers’ Educational Association and the Miners’ Lodge Libraries, by the people’s papers rather than the redtop rags, and so on. In order to restore a civilisation in continuity with it, that culture must be rescued from “the enormous condescension of posterity”.
That basis includes the Union, the Commonwealth, and the ties that bind these Islands, recognising that only social democracy guarantees the Union and that only the Union makes possible social democracy in these Islands, so that the erosion of social democracy is the most powerful of separatist arguments, despite the fact that the separatists could not possibly deliver social democracy, and very largely would not wish to deliver it, in the entities to which they aspire.
That basis includes economic patriotism, itself including both energy independence and balanced migration. It includes the recognition that we cannot deliver the welfare provisions and the other public services that our people have rightly come to expect unless we know how many people there are in this country, unless we control immigration properly, and unless we insist that everyone use spoken and written English to the necessary level.
That basis includes an approach to climate change which protects and extends secure employment with civilised wages and working conditions, which encourages economic development around the world, which upholds the right of the working classes and of non-white people to have children, which holds down and as far as practicable reduces the fuel prices that always hit the poor hardest, and which refuses to restrict either travel opportunities or a full diet to the rich.
That basis includes the full compatibility between, on the one hand, the highest view of human demographic, economic, intellectual and cultural expansion and development, and, on the other hand, the most active concern for the conservation of the natural world and of the treasures bequeathed by such expansion and development in the past.
That basis includes the organic Constitution, with the full pageantry and ceremony of the parliamentary and municipal processes. It includes the national and parliamentary sovereignty of the United Kingdom in the face of all challenges: from the United States or from the European Union, from Israel or from the Gulf monarchies, from the Russian oligarchs or from the rising powers of Asia, from money markets or from media moguls, from separatists or from communalists, from over-mighty civil servants and diplomats (including in the intelligence services) or from over-mighty municipal officers, and from inappropriately imported features of the economic and political cultures of the Old Dominions. This list is not exhaustive.
That basis includes the understanding that the national and parliamentary sovereignty of the United Kingdom is, with municipalism, the only means to social democracy in the territory that it covers, and is thus the democracy in social democracy. It includes, no less than the previous point, the understanding that only social democracy, and not least the public ownership of the commanding heights of the economy, is capable of safeguarding that sovereignty, national and parliamentary, and that democracy, parliamentary and municipal.
That basis includes conservation and the countryside, especially the political representation of the rural working class. It includes personal freedom through superb and inexpensive public transport, ultimately free at the point of use. It includes academic excellence, with technical proficiency, refusing to compromise on either.
That basis includes civil liberties, with law and order, including visible and effective policing, and including an end to light sentences and to lax prison discipline through a return to a free country’s minimum requirements for conviction.
That basis includes fiscal responsibility, of which neoliberal capitalism is manifestly and demonstrably the opposite. It includes a strong financial services sector, with a strong food production and manufacturing base, and with the strong democratic accountability of both. It includes a total rejection of class war, insisting instead upon “a platform broad enough for all to stand upon”.
That basis includes a large and thriving private sector, a large and thriving middle class, and a large and thriving working class; all depend on central and local government action, and with public money come public responsibilities.
That basis includes very high levels of productivity, with the robust protection of workers, consumers, communities and the environment, including powerful workers’ representation at every level of corporate governance. It includes a base of real property for every household, to resist both over-mighty commercial interests and an over-mighty State. It includes an absolute statutory division between investment banking and retail banking.
That basis includes a realist foreign policy, itself including strong national defence, and precluding any new Cold War against Russia, China, Iran or anywhere else. It includes British military intervention only ever in order to defend British territory or British interests. It includes a leading role on the world stage, with a vital commitment to peace, and with a complete absence of weapons of mass destruction.
That basis includes the subjection both of Islamism and of neoconservatism to an approach defined by our proud history of equal opposition to Stalinism, Maoism, Trotskyism, Nazism, Fascism, and the Far Right regimes in Southern Africa, Latin America and elsewhere.
The One Nation Society exists in order to debate and research these issues.
Nic Dakin MP, Member of Parliament for Scunthorpe;
Jim Dobbin MP, Member of Parliament for Heywood and Middleton;
David Drew, Labour Prospective Parliamentary Candidate for Stroud, former Member of Parliament for Stroud (1997-2010);
Roger Godsiff MP, Member of Parliament for Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath;
The Right Honourable George Howarth MP, Member of Parliament for Knowsley;
David Lindsay, Director of the One Nation Society;
Iain McKenzie MP, Member of Parliament for Inverclyde;
John Mills, Co-Chairman of Business for Britain, Founder and Chairman of JML;
Ian Paisley MP, Member of Parliament for North Antrim;
The Right Honourable Keith Vaz MP, Member of Parliament for Leicester East, Chairman of the Home Affairs Select Committee, member of the National Executive Committee of the Labour Party.
Professor Bryan Gould CNZM, former Member of Parliament for Southampton Test (1974-1979), former Member of Parliament for Dagenham (1983-1994).
Intended events include Peter Shore at 90; One Nation, One Struggle: Ascension Island, the Chagos Islands, the Falkland Islands and Gibraltar; The Case for Public Ownership, including in terms of national sovereignty, the Union, and support for fatherhood; Towards A Realist Foreign Policy; Learning from Germany: The Mittelstand, Regional Banking, Workers’ Representation; Neither Washington Nor Brussels, especially in view of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership; Bringing Social Democracy to the City of London; The Role of the Radical Traditions within the Organic Constitution; Catholic Social Teaching and British Social Democracy; and British Social Democracy, the Ulster British Culture, and the Ulster Protestant Tradition.
Intended projects include shaping the social economy, forming a realist foreign policy, restoring local democracy, reasserting the pre-eminence of Parliament, responding to climate change without compromising on well-paid employment and its benefits, renewing respect for working-class culture, and sharing with the rural working class the urban and the ethnic minority experiences of identifying and promoting community leaders.