Is Ed Miliband the new Benjamin Disraeli?

Tory Democracy needn't be dismissed as an oxymoron. But the Labour leader should be careful about hero worshipping the Victorian Prime Minister

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Around about a nanosecond on Google confirmed my recollections from A Level History. Disraeli? One nation! One nation! I'm sure Ed’s missed a word out here. Ah yes, that's the one - Conservatism. You can see why the leader of the Labour Party might run his red pen through it. “One Nation Conservatism”, not “One Nation”, was Disraeli’s big idea, more commonly known as “Tory Democracy.”

Ed Miliband, then, Tory Democrat. Who’d have thought it, but you can see why he has waited til now. Imagine the beatings he ‘d have taken at his comprehensive school, had he confessed all back then.

When even the cool kids of North London’s Haverstock Comp, like Oona King, wind up Labour MPs, well, it’s a dangerous place to be a One Nation Tory.

It was fascinating to hear of all the things he learnt at his comprehensive school, with “people from all over the world” - pretty big catchment area, but then you do need to put the miles in to get to one like Haverstock, where teachers who’ve gone there from private schools have often claimed it’s no different.

It’s a pity that section got cut relatively short. Had he learnt how to roll a joint? How to deftly raise a Cadbury’s Crème Egg up a blazer sleeve while your accomplice sends the shopkeeper, back turned, up his ladder to fetch the rhubarb and custards? Or how many French bangers are required to blow up a standard sized park bin? Or, that if you smack the front bumper of the early Mondeos with a sledge hammer, the airbags go off and the doors fly open? One suspects not.

But anyone having a quick read now about Mr Miliband’s new philosophy, Tory Democracy, will rapidly learn it was not to do with trying to give the poor a chance (that was Gladstone), merely to make the rich realise it was in their interests that the poor weren’t too pissed off. His biggest achievement - The Artisans Dwelling Act, an invitation to private companies to knock down unfit slums, and rebuild them. Not many took it up.

There is one quotation of Mr Disraeli’s however, that I’ve not even remotely forgotten, as I often I find myself chuckling at it. His concern, in 1867, that Gladstone’s Reform Bill, which would slightly lower the amount of money one had to have in order to be able to vote, would bring into parliament “a horde of selfish and obscure mediocrities incapable of anything but mischief.”

Makes Andrew “pleb” Mitchell sound like John Lennon.

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