Renewing One Nation

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Renewing One Nation or R1N was a research team within Conservative Central Office set up to shadow Labour's Social Exclusion Unit. It was run by Tim Montgomerie and launched by in 2000 William Hague, 'in order to develop new ways of tackling persistent social problems.' Montgomerie was criticised for being an unsuitable director for the groups because of his views on homosexuality. He was also criticised for arranging a visit to the UK for Marvin Olasky, a US christian 'guru' who 'condemns homosexuality and public welfare'. [1]

R1N's homepage stated that, 'It will build relationships with volunteers, charities and faith communities who have a heart for building a more inclusive society.' [2] The group was a predecessor to the Centre for Social Justice [3] and claimed that the Conservative Party's proposed tax cuts would 'foster a compassionate society where people are rewarded for taking responsibility for themselves, their families and their communities.' [4] According to Chris Cook:

[Tim Montgomerie] met with Jonathan Sacks (now Lord Sacks), Britain’s chief rabbi, who helped line up £300,000 funding from Sir Stanley Kalms, a Tory donor. The only condition was that the organisation be non-denominational – and so Renewing One Nation was born, to run alongside the CCF. The new group largely recruited from the CCF and continued its policy work on poverty. Within the party, David Willetts, the Tories’ foremost intellectual and my former employer, became a helper despite his own agnosticism. The atheist Oliver Letwin, now the Tory head of policy, also offered support. And the Jewish Daniel Finkelstein, then head of party policy and now executive editor at The Times, backed the project, too. Of Montgomerie’s notable internal supporters, only one was Christian: David Lidington, an MP in the party’s higher echelons. [5]

The Renewing One Nation group was an early advocate of what became known as 'The Big Society' under David Cameron. Its Renewing Civil Society document, launched by William Hague on 1 June 2001 advocated

Inviting greater voluntary sector involvement in providing public services

One-size-doesn't-fit-all. That is why Conservatives will invite the voluntary sector, faith communities and businesses to play a greater role in providing public- funded services. Involving the voluntary sector in schooling, housing and urban regeneration will create more diverse provision, better suited to the needs of Twenty-First Century Britain. [6]

Tim Montgomerie writes on his blog of the support George Osborne and Daniel Finkelstein gave his Renewing One Nation project:

All I can say is that I know how supportive George [Political Secretary to William Hague until 2001] and Danny [Head of the Policy] were of the social justice agenda from the earliest days. When I was at Conservative Central Office from 1999 onwards - working for what became the 'Renewing One Nation' unit and ultimately the CSJ - they were constantly supportive. The bureauacracy at CCO frustrated everything we tried to do. We only had to ring Danny or George and they ensured our communications to William Hague got through. I know they argued for what 'R1N' was doing, too. [7]

Personnel

In February 2004 Renewing One Nation's website provided the following information on its team members:

Three Members of Parliament provide strategic input to the R1N team's work:

Oliver Letwin MP - Shadow Home Secretary;

David Lidington MP - Shadow Rural Affairs Minister; and

Gary Streeter MP.

There are four full-team members of R1N:

Kirsten Bird - analyst. Kirsten was formerly PA to the Conservative Party Chairman. Kirsten has lead responsibility for organisation of the One Nation Hearings and for liaison with the party in Wales.

Peter Franklin - analyst. Peter was Agriculture and Countryside Research Officer at Conservative Central Office before joining R1N to oversee the team's voluntary sector policy research.

Tim Montgomerie - executive director. Previously an analyst at the Bank of England, Tim is responsible for implementing R1N's strategy, and coordinates relations with the shadow cabinet and faith communities.

Cameron Watt - analyst. Cameron, a former teacher, is lead researcher on character education and directs R1N's work in Scotland.

Two advisers provide R1N with specialist expertise on family policy:

Guy Hordern advises R1N on relations with churches and on family policy. Guy is co-author of a book about helping lone parents.

Jill Kirby is author of the Centre for Policy Studies paper on the family - Broken Hearts. Jill maps family policy issues for R1N. [8]

Notes

  1. Kevin Maguire, Policy and politics: 'Caring' unit head alarms Tories, The Guardian, 1 November 2000
  2. Internet Archive, Renewing One Nation, 23 July 2001
  3. Chris Cook, 'Christian Tories rewrite party doctrine', Financial Times, 12 February 2010
  4. Internet Archive, Renewing One Nation, RENEWING CIVIL SOCIETY How Conservatives will empower Britain's good neighbours, 23 July 2001
  5. Chris Cook, 'Christian Tories rewrite party doctrine', Financial Times, 12 February 2010
  6. Internet Archive, Renewing One Nation, RENEWING CIVIL SOCIETY How Conservatives will empower Britain's good neighbours, 23 July 2001
  7. Tim Montgomerie, 'The earliest days of the social justice agenda', Conservative Home, 8 May 2009
  8. Internet Archive, Renewing One Nation > Who We Are > Profile of team members , 2 February 2004