The truth about One Nation - yet again

Some historical errors are so firmly entrenched that it seems almost impossible to correct them. Neville Chamberlain continues to be regarded a weak man who was bossed around by Hitler; he was in fact an extraordinarily tough and formidable statesman. It is frequently said that Speakers of the House of Commons who stand for re-election in their constituencies have always been unopposed by candidates from the main parties; this has only become the case in recent years. Over and over again the famous phrase “One Nation” is attributed to Disraeli. He never said it, as Alistair Lexden has pointed out on numerous occasions. He did so yet again in a letter in The Times on July 2.

Sir, The “One Nation stuff” that Clare Foges mentions (“Johnson may live to regret becoming PM”, Comment, Jul 1) was not started by Boris Johnson or Disraeli, though they have a certain amount in common. Speaking on December 4, 1924, Stanley Baldwin said: “we stand for the union of those two nations of which Disraeli spoke two generation ago: union among our own people to make one nation of our own people at home which, if secured, nothing else matters in the world.” One wonders whether any leading Tory today is capable of striking the same powerful note of national reconciliation at a time when it is so badly needed.

Lord Lexden
Conservative Party historian