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October 03, 2012




Dennis Healy once said, "the best defence against communism is the welfare state", or words to that effect.

So I would add to Chris's list the collapse of the USSR as an additional reason for the rich and powerful's lack od sympathy for the poor and dispossessed.

So much for the peace dividend!

John H

As I recall, Simon Schama argues (and I'm assuming he isn't original in this) that the other plank of Disraeli's attempt to secure working class support for the Conservative Party was imperialist nationalism: "the oompah of Empire", as Schama puts it.

So maybe Ed M's next move will be to call for the Queen to be declared Empress of India. ;-)

Luis Enrique

"If you want One Nation, you need a more powerful working class. "

well this sounds like a good theme for left-wing politician to base their campaign around.

"we should be sceptical of how far One Nation be can created by legislation alone"

but don't you think workers can be empowered via legislation? What are the other options?

1. wait until the vagaries of history swing in that direction or
2. revolution!

you write a lot about the possible gains from things like workplace democracy, a citizen's basic income and other such ideas ... but don't you see these things as feasible? If you don't, aren't the best feasible policies more worthy of interest?


Milliband's party can not have one nation. His party will fracture as they further and further alienate the working class. His party is heading into the abyss. Working class unity? Is that why his party in Glasgow are making deals in run-up to council elections with the Orange Order in Glasgow? Aye. Many of us are old enough to remember. Your religion defined who was likely to give you a job. Unity? From Labour? Quite the opposite these days.

In Scotland. The man is a raving lunatic to have ever dreamt he'd not have handed SNP a chuckle.

Account Deleted

I'm dubious about #3, the idea that the landed gentry are less likely to be contemptuous of the poor than "cash-holding merchants and bankers". They're pretty evenly inconsiderate, I'd suggest.

In contrast to your distinction, consider Andrew Carnegie and the late Victorian concept of philanthropy, which was very much directed at capitalists and new money. He wrote The Gospel of Wealth, at the time of the Irish Land War agitation against absentee landlords.

Dave B

"...the rich are less likely to be empathatic or compassionate than others."

I don't accept that. Charity is not correlated with income, it's correlated with small-government-conservatism, and religion.


Miguel Madeira

"Charity is not correlated with income, it's correlated with small-government-conservatism, and religion."

From the link:

"The single biggest predictor of someone's altruism, Willett says, is religion. It increasingly correlates with conservative political affiliations because, as Brooks' book says, "the percentage of self-described Democrats who say they have 'no religion' has more than quadrupled since the early 1970s." America is largely divided between religious givers and secular nongivers, and the former are disproportionately conservative. One demonstration that religion is a strong determinant of charitable behavior is that the least charitable cohort is a relatively small one -- secular conservatives."

Apperently, charity is correled with religion; the correlation with conservatism is only because conservatism is positivly correleted with religion (after all, non-religious conservatives are the group that gives less to charity).

And, said that, I doubt that there is a significant association between charity and "small-government conservatism"; by the article, my suspiction is that the association is between charity and *social* conservatism

Dave B

@Miguel Madiera

"Two influences on charitable behavior are religion and attitudes about the proper role of government."

I am assuming that the 'attitudes about the proper role of government' that would induce charitable donations is 'small government conservatism', Burke's little platoons.

Religion is the "single biggest predictor", not the only predictor.


"But in Disraeli's time this was accompanied by a Christian compassion which is weaker today."

Evidence? The thing about Disraeli is how much of what is "known" about his politics is guff, the one nation aspect of Sybil was during his early days in Parliament as an ambitious backbencher trying to make a name for himself be allying himself with a few backbenchers who had quixotic dreams of a patriachal order that never existed.

After the Conservative split of 1846 that sees Disraeli become Tory leader in the Commons, you see that aspect quickly dropped as Disraeli ascribes to the mid-Victorian non-radical consensus of Free Trade, limit Parliamentry reform, continued aristocratic predominance and limited government.

While he does resurrect an interest in working class support during his attack against Gladstone's 1st ministry, he wins the 1874 not on a wave of working class support support, but because the electoral system (adjusted by Disraeli himself in 1868) means that the liberal 50+ majority of votes is insufficient to win enough seats especially with the rise of the Irish Nationalists. While the 1874-1880 ministry does pass some notable social reforms none would have surprising under a Gladstonian government.

Tory Democracy in the Victorian is myth made after Disraeli's death by those working against the arch-Conservative Salisbury in the 1890's.

Conservatives won Victorian elections through gerrymandering, middle class small-c conservatism and anti-Irish working voters. Imperialism only resonated effectively with the middle classes.

but myth is always better than history.

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