This is the choice that Greg Clark, a supremo in David Cameron's policy making team, thinks confronts the Tories. He, according to the Guardian is calling for Mr Cameron to take Toynbee not Churchill as his model. The distance between the Guardian columnist and the Tory icon may not though be as much as it seems- who afterall said this,
You must rank me and my colleagues as strong partisans of national compulsory insurance for all classes for all purposes from the cradle to the grave.
The answer is Winston S. Churchill of course in a broadcast in 1946. Churchill had a long and eminently successful record as a social reformer- from his days as Liberal President of the Board of Trade and ally of Llyold George to his chancellorship in the 20s and forward to his 51-55 Tory governmentt, he was the very definition of a one-nation Conservative or as he might have termed it, taking the phrase from his father, Tory Democracy. Indeed he even switched parties in the 1900s when the conservative position became biased towards protection and the liberal in favour of cheap bread. Churchill's positions on economics changed over the sixty or so years he served as an active politician- but at no point did he oppose the principle that government should be interested in ammeliorating poverty.
I suspect though that Messrs Clark and Cameron need no history lectures from Gracchi- most Tories with any sense are aware of the history of their party. What this is about is dissassociating the Tories not from the particular policy options they have pursued in the past- if so Churchill versus Toynbee is a false dichotomy (if we were to take it that Cameron seriously envisages being on Toynbee's side of that it would mean he rejected one nation Toryism to endorse Swedish social democracy), but from a particular tribal history of the Conservative Party. What Mr Cameron wants to do, and what this shows him doing, is not a dissassociation of the policies from the Tories, but a disassociation of the Tories from the policies. He is seeking to appeal to the presumed compassion of Toynbee as an emotion instead of Churchill's (read old Tory) patrician indifference to the poor. The injustice to Churchill in such an account is an injustice committed in order to relieve the Tories of any past associations and allowing them to present what they beleive to be compassionate policies to the electorate. Nobody seriously beleives that Cameron is a swedish social democrat- he is hoping they won't believe that he is a historical Tory either.
The funny thing is that this has been done before I beleive it might have been attempted in the late forties, picking a period at random- but for the life of me, I can't remember who the Tory leader's name was then...
might it just have been, that old liberal,
Winston S. Churchill