Matthew Dancona

A state of emergency

A state of emergency
Text settings

I have known David Selbourne for almost a decade and a half, and have long admired his trenchant, impeccably argued analysis of the state of modern society (as well as his many other writings). His book The Principle of Duty (1994) was one of the earliest moral road-maps for the Blair era, a copy of which was famously bought by President Clinton at Blackwell’s in Oxford. It is fair to say that neither Tony or Bill followed the advice set out in that magisterial book. But it certainly foreshadowed the growing importance that the language of “responsibility” would have in political discourse, if not the reality of Government policy.

In the new issue of The Spectator, the sage of Urbino ups the ante with a piece declaring a “state of emergency” in this country – moral, civic and political – and warns that we have gravely underestimated the growth of public anger at Britain’s decline. It is an important and powerful essay. Above all, it should be a stimulus for debate. Does Selbourne exaggerate or underestimate the scale of the problem? Is he performing the role of seer or misguided doom-monger? What examples or counter-examples do Coffee Housers have? Do let us have your comments on this brilliant article.