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Article Dans Une Revue Revue française de civilisation britannique Année : 2023

The strategic use of One Nation as a symbol during PMQs from J. Major to T. May


One Nation, as a conceptual construct which started to develop since the 19th century has often been associated with the Conservative Party’s politics regarding their effort to bridge the gap between “the two nations” (the underprivileged and the well-off members of society) and in the elevation of the condition of the people in the UK (a requisite for social harmony). Most recent conservative Prime Ministers have been eager to present their own version of the One Nation tradition based on their views of the role the state should play (either limited or extended state intervention). David Seawright explains that these conflicting stances are not expressed in a strict polarisation within the party but rather that they move along the conservative ideological continuum (of limited-extended state policies). More than a successively reconstructed concept (to cater for special expectations of the PM and voters). One Nation is a symbol and as such it is characterized by a high degree of ambiguity, fluidity and multivocality. These are precisely the qualities that make One Nation an efficient instrument for Prime ministers to move along the continuum. Murray Edelman refers to these symbols as condensational symbols laden with powerful emotional content as well as a wide range of meanings. The study will seek to provide an assessment of the position of three Prime Ministers (J. Major, D. Cameron and T. May) on the limited-extended state approach continuum through their own representation of One Nation. It will be examined in the context of parliamentary discourse and through catchphrases used by each PM during Prime Minister’s Question Time (PMQs). This paper will also aim to analyse the process of symbolisation and to demonstrate that the use of One Nation as a symbol fulfils different functions and serves various purposes (strategic and social), especially when used in opposition to what can be considered as the invariant core element of One Nation: anti-socialism.
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Dates et versions

hal-03873390 , version 1 (26-11-2022)


  • HAL Id : hal-03873390 , version 1


Stéphane Revillet. The strategic use of One Nation as a symbol during PMQs from J. Major to T. May. Revue française de civilisation britannique, 2023, One Nation Conservatism from Disraeli to Johnson, XXVIII (I), ⟨hal-03873390⟩


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