The road to somewhere

Gisborough Priory

Gisborough Priory was founded in 1119, although the gothic chunks which remain of it today — including the grimly magnificent east end — date largely from the 13th century. A fire had destroyed much of the original building. It has great antiquity, then, nestled on the northern edge of the North York Moors in the market town of Guisborough, within spitting distance of (still, just about) industrial Teesside. The place has always had a certain resonance for me, not least because it adjoins the graveyard of St Nicholas Church, which was an important venue for somewhat brusque and pragmatic courtships when I was an early teen. Late at night, in

The Spectator’s Notes | 11 October 2018

Although, in David Goodhart’s famous distinction, I see myself as one of the ‘Somewheres’ rather than the ‘Anywheres’, I do not believe in nationalism (as opposed to patriotism). Nationalism always involves falsified history and sees identity as a zero-sum game. Nation states should be respected, not deified, and are usually the better for not being ethnically ‘pure’. But the Anywheres’ attacks on nationalism are interestingly selective. They hate Viktor Orban’s Hungarian version, for instance, but love Leo Varadkar’s Irish one. The avowedly internationalist EU uses Irish nationalism as its biggest moral justification for blocking Brexit. And thus does Scottish nationalism, being seen as left-wing, escape criticism for its coercive righteousness.

The age of incivility

How long ago it now seems that the big political worry was apathy. Today, wherever you look — Brexit negotiations, US politics, the latest news from Europe — the talk is only of polarisation, division and a coarsening of political behaviour and language. According to a Ipsos MORI survey, most Europeans believe their countries are more polarised than ten years ago. But are we really as divided as the new consensus presumes? What if recent political trends represent instead a long overdue rebalancing of interests after nearly 30 years of liberal domination — both economic and social — favouring the affluent and educated, and so a case of democracy not

The Spectator’s Notes | 19 April 2018

Everyone speaks about the Windrush. The boat was actually called the Empire Windrush. The full name reveals what the story was about. The boat was one of a series called Empire X, X being the name of a British river, as if each were a tributary to a common stream. Mass coloured immigration to Britain was the act of an imperial power — almost, one might say, an imperialist act. In 1948, a Labour government (Attlee’s) created a common ‘Citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies’. Just as we wanted the raw materials of our colonies, so — later in the day — we wanted their labour. This also explains

Language barrier

Since the EU referendum result last June our nation has been divided: not only by the vote but also by language. If 62 per cent of Britons (many of whom undoubtedly voted for Brexit) now say Britain ‘sometimes feels like a foreign country’, it’s not anti-foreigner prejudice so much as a feeling that people in authority are speaking at them in a foreign language. Not Polish or Punjabi but PC-speak, that opaque code that connotes whether you are ‘on message’ and one of ‘our kind of people’ or one of those racist lizard-brained Leaver oiks. Look at the new language of diversity that is now being prescribed in much of

Migration is complicated. Don’t pretend it’s not

I expect you’ve already noticed it, but in case you’ve been living in a cave or an economics faculty for the past ten years, I’ll repeat it. Goods are not like people. Goods only move wherever they are needed. They don’t come laden with an attachment to a homeland or a social network. Your Bosch dishwasher doesn’t pine for its washing-machine mates back in Stuttgart. Your Ikea sofa doesn’t claim benefits. If you buy a Mercedes, you don’t suddenly find two Audis and a Volkswagen turning up on your drive claiming to be close relatives and demanding to live in your garage. So, looked at dispassionately, the principle that the

Policy Exchange’s latest hire shows that integration is now a key government issue

Few think tanks have been as associated with the Cameron project as Policy Exchange. Its alumni are dotted in various positions around government, with a particularly strong presence in Downing Street. So, it is interesting that Policy Exchange’s director Dean Godson has today announced that he has hired David Goodhart, the former editor of Prospect and the author of The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-War immigration, to head a new Integration Hub at the think tank. Goodhart’s arrival is a reflection of how much questions of immigration and integration are now preoccupying the centre-right. This new unit will be launched on 25 January at an event with Louise Casey,

Easy divorce has been catastrophic for British children (and I say this as a divorcee)

Would you find it difficult to remain friends with someone if he or she suddenly revealed that they intended to vote Ukip in the next election? Or perhaps it is the case that you yourself have told friends that you intend to vote Ukip and have seen those dinner-party invitations drying up, or have been shunned by acquaintances in the queue to order your Christmas turkey at Waitrose. A new survey suggests that Ukip is a ‘toxic’ party, with almost a quarter of people (24 per cent) reporting that we would find it hard to remain friends with someone who felt warmth and fellowship towards Nigel Farage. The implication was

A solution to the BBC problem – break it in two

Monday’s episode of The Unbelievable Truth, in case you missed it, featured comedians Marcus Brigstocke and Rufus Hound. I did miss it, partly because I read about how Hound thinks David Cameron wants to kill your children, and I just couldn’t face the jokes about the Daily Mail and ‘hoards of Romanians!’ Even Charlie Brooker’s Weekly Wipe has become unbearable. I gave up half-way through the last two episodes I attempted, one of which was entirely about how stupid and neanderthal Ukip are and the other which contained a slot just as big explaining how anyone hostile to further migration from eastern European was simply an idiot and that’s it.

David Goodhart tells David Cameron how to tackle immigration by reforming the EU

Much, if not all, of the discussion about immigration in recent days has barely mentioned migration from the European Union, which, given the scale of such migration, was an oversight. Freedom of movement is sacred in Brussels – and indeed elsewhere on the continent. But the times they are a changing. The accession of Bulgaria and Romania has alarmed leaders on the frontier between old and new Europe, in capitals like Berlin, Stockholm and Copenhagen, where there is concern about the effect of a further wave of immigration on employment and public services. The think tank Demos says, in its response to the EU Balance of Competencies Review, that David

The View from 22 debate special: too much immigration, too little integration?

This May, David Goodhart’s latest book, The British Dream: Successes and Failures of Post-war Immigration, earned him the title of ‘too hot for Hay’ when he was ‘shunned’ by the literary festival. The festival director, Peter Florence, went on to describe the book as ‘sensationalist’ and ‘not very good’. But all was not lost. As event chair Andrew Neil put it: ‘What the Hay festival missed, The Spectator brought to you’, with a special panel on immigration last Tuesday, 9 July. Goodhart was joined on the panel by the Mail on Sunday’s Peter Hitchens, former Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, the former chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission Trevor

The next Spectator Debate: too much immigration, too little integration?

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

David Goodhart makes Hay

What a pity. It seems that Dave Goodhart, director of Demos and editor-at-large of Prospect, has made peace with the Hay Festival organisers, who decided against showcasing his new book on immigration on the annual luvvie field trip. Hay Director Peter Florence described Goodhart’s The British Dream as ‘sensationalist’, and apparently told Goodhart that Hay stood ‘for pluralism and multiculturalism’ and that he is half-Italian. Goodhart hit back at these ‘ultra-liberal, slightly lefty multiculturalist’ views, saying:  ‘it’s [the book] probably been more widely reviewed than any non-fiction book so far this year – both favourably and unfavourably, so when my publisher said there was no interest from Hay I was