Two Nations

Ian Jack, writing in the UK Guardian today, describes the southern bias of the British Conservative Party leadership, particularly when contrasted with the present British Labour Party Cabinet:

To historians, the interesting thing may be that for 13 years spanning the end of the 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries Britain was ruled by a party born inside and chiefly supported by the Northern Metaphor, whose second prime minister wore so many of its qualities. Look at the constituency names attached to the members of its cabinet: South Shields, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, Blackburn, Normanton, Leigh, Pontefract, Edinburgh South West. Out of its 20 members elected to parliament, 13 have seats north of the Trent.
The shadow cabinet tells a different story: Arundel and South Downs, Chesham and Amersham, Surrey Heath, Beaconsfield, South Cambridgeshire, Chipping Barnet, Havant. Twenty of 28 members have seats in southern England. England north of Birmingham is represented by George Osborne (Hatton in Cheshire) and William Hague (Richmond, North Yorkshire).

Jack also quotes Australian journalist Donald Horne (Disclosure:  whom I once shared an evening in a bar with), writing in 1969 about Britain’s competing metaphors:

In the Northern Metaphor, Britain is “pragmatic, empirical, calculating, Puritan, bourgeois, enterprising, adventurous, scientific, serious, and believes in struggle”. In the Southern Metaphor, Britain is “romantic, illogical, muddled, divinely lucky, Anglican, aristocratic, traditional, frivolous, and believes in order and tradition”. The winner in this contest was decided at least a century ago when, in Horne’s words, Britons decided it wasn’t “for what they did but for what they were that destiny had rewarded them so lavishly”.

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