When David Cameron announced ‘state multiculturalism has failed’, the chattering classes gasped in disbelief. Here was a Prime Minister, bull dozing his way into the tricky area of immigration — one his predecessors had shied away from. The speech was praised by the right, and lambasted by those on the left — including his coalition partners.
David Goodhart received a similar reaction with the publication of his book The British Dream. In it, he examines the success and failures of post-war immigration in Britain. On the right, the book was welcomed as a thorough examination into multiculturalism. When the former Tory leader Michael Howard reviewed Goodhart’s book in the Spectator, he explained why he backs Goodhart’s thesis:
‘There can surely be no doubt that the primary duty of those in positions of authority is to our own national interest. That, of course, means governing in the interest of all our citizens and one of the most interesting aspects of Goodhart’s book lies in his examination of how the increased diversity of our population makes this task even more difficult than it would otherwise be. In particular his dissection of that much overused and misunderstood term ‘multiculturalism’ is the best I have read.'
But on the left, many have excommunicated Goodhart including the organisers of the Hay Festival. As director of Demos and editor-at-large of Prospect, Goodhart has been invited to speak at Hay every time for the last 15 years but this year, there was no invitation. He has been abandoned by his own flock, simply for examining and questioning the consensus on immigration.
The Spectator is bringing Goodhart together and some fantastic debaters to discuss whether Britain has suffered from too much immigration and too little integration. Next Tuesday, in London, The Huffington Post’s Mehdi Hasan, former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, Mail on Sunday columnist Peter Hitchens, Trevor Philips former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission and Andrew Neil will join Goodhart at the RIBA on Portland Place to discuss the book and the surrounding issues.
With such a lively cast, it promises to be a riveting debate. Tickets are selling swiftly, so book up now.