One Nation, disconnected party: The evocation of One Nation aimed to unite the nation, instead it highlighted the Labour party’s divisions

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This paper explores Ed Miliband’s evocation of One Nation in his 2012 Labour party conference speech. It first surveys the views of members of the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and key advisors to Miliband on One Nation, with a focus on the debates surrounding its purpose and substance. What becomes clear is the amount of confusion amongst backbenchers and shadow cabinet members of the PLP regarding its purpose. Second, the paper explains the respective, and drastically different, positions of the Policy Review team and Ed Miliband and his leadership team over the purpose of One Nation. Third, this paper highlights that there was a fundamental disconnection between the two principal centres of policymaking under the tenure of Ed Miliband’s leadership and that this ultimately undermined One Nation by allowing Ed Miliband quietly to drop it for a ‘cost of living’ narrative. It concludes that the evocation of One Nation was a missed opportunity for the Labour party, which subsequently allowed the Conservatives to reclaim that territory.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)432-448
Number of pages16
JournalBritish Politics
Issue number3
Early online date14 Jul 2017
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2017



  • ideas
  • Labour Party
  • Policy-making
  • Ed Miliband

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