In Values, Voice and Virtue, Matt Goodwin argues that a liberal ‘new elite’ dominates Britain, the values and interests of this elite conflicting with those of working classes. Since last week’s publication, the book has proved controversial, liberals arguing that the thesis is exaggerated and paranoid.
“ Socio-cultural professionals tend to be economic left-wingers, opposing neoliberalism. ”
Hmmn... not always, what about their strong support for membership of the EU Single Market, aka ‘the free movement of labour’, a neoliberal policy if ever there was one? They also formed a key part of the consensus around the need for Austerity in the wake of the 2008 financial crash.
That point aside, I find myself in sympathy with both Matt Goodwin and yourself, if that’s possible! Your points about the need for nuance and accurate definitions sound absolutely right. But MG’s book is a polemical one aimed at a wide readership, he is therefore painting with a broad brush to get people thinking, which also seems a legitimate approach.
Given the unpopularity of Matt’s views on threats to academic freedom within academia, he probably expected that his latest book would also generate a hostile backlash and further attempts to marginalise him. Good on him for not shutting up!
I haven't read the book, but I've long been troubled by the categorisation of certain people as 'elites'. Tell the 20something progressive HR manager, on £30k, that she's a member of the 'elite' and something doesn't feel right.
The impression I'm getting is that we have a problem with nomenclature when trying to describe people with 'hegemonic' qualities and influence.
That HR manager still has a lot more 'clout' in the culture than the plumber on £30k.
Sorry if this is somewhat incoherent. I'm struggling to frame it.
Enjoyed this critical review - I'm reading the book at the moment, but already, from the promotional materials Goodwin has put out, ones gets a sense of the imprecision and straw-men he has invoked. I think Goodwin would do well to debate you, and I'd particularly be interested in seeing your idea of "low-liberalism" go up against his idea of the "new elite", the former being an attitude (albeit a fashionable one among certain individuals) and the latter a group defined by their academic status and political positions.
You are too fair-minded Thomas. The very imprecise populist features of the analysis that upset you (broad brush characterisations and personalised attacks on bogeymen opponents) are intrinsic features of what Matt is trying to achieve. He wants to turn this into a political campaign.
The context is whether whoever succeeds Rishi as Conservative leader after the next election will continue to run with Matt’s political realignment strategy or whether the Blue Wall Core Vote approach will win out. Of course, Australian election strategists might be interested in Matt’s book!
If you're going to be a contrarian, you at least ought to make the effort to keep coming up with new hot takes rather than recycling the same idea ad infinitum. We all mock Brendan O'Neil for writing essentially one article over and over again, but at least he manages to hook that article to a different news item every time; Matt Goodwin doesn't even do that.