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Home Uncategorized Return of the Nativist

Return of the Nativist

Bryan Fanning
The Road to Somewhere: The New Tribes Shaping British Politics, by David Goodhart, Penguin, 304 pp, £6.99, ISBN: 978-0141986975 There are perhaps two kinds of people ‑ those who, for illustrative purposes, maintain that there are two kinds of people and those who insist that it must always be much more complex than that. David Goodhart’s State of Britain polemic divides its population into two archetypical categories, the Anywheres and the Somewheres. The former are well-educated liberals who are broadly comfortable with twenty-first century social change, including globalisation and large-scale immigration. Somewheres, on the other hand, feel threatened by rapid change and by the consequences of social and economic liberalism. Goodhart first gained notoriety in 2004 with the publication of an essay called “Too Diverse?” As he recalled in The Road to Somewhere, it led to him being accused of “nice racism” and “liberal Powellism”. He “became convinced that the left had got on the wrong side of the argument on mass immigration (too enthusiastic), and integration of minorities and national identity (too indifferent)”. In a March 2017 article in the Financial Times Goodhart elaborated on the evolution of his political views: As a left-wing student I became the founding editor of the centre-left magazine Prospect. It was there that I first tentatively dissented from the liberal consensus on immigration and multiculturalism. In 2004 I wrote an essay about the tension between diversity and solidarity, based on what I  thought was the uncontroversial assumption that people are readier to share with people with whom they have something in common. Instead I met the intolerance of the modern left for the first time. Subsequently, I’ve grown used to being accused of racism, even by own children. Goodhart is fond of recounting moments of epiphany in justifying his ideological journey. His Financial Times piece, “Why I left my London liberal tribe” described a recent one. Chatting to some friends in a bar he said that he could understand the discomfort that Nigel Farage had recently expressed about not hearing a single English-speaker on a train in London. Someone present, presumably an appalled liberal, loudly slammed their glass down and ostentatiously walked out. Yet, in “Too Diverse?” Goodhart credited a 1998 encounter with the Conservative politician David Willetts with initially setting him on his road to Damascus. Willets argued that people were willing to pay high taxes to pay for public services only if they believed that the recipients…

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