Values, Voice and Virtue: The New British Politics by Matthew Goodwin - review by Sunder Katwala

Sunder Katwala

Realignment Lost

Values, Voice and Virtue: The New British Politics


Penguin 272pp £10.99

The last decade was the most volatile in British politics since the introduction of universal suffrage. But to what extent was there a political realignment? Matthew Goodwin’s argument is that the vote for Brexit in 2016 and the general election result of 2019 were just part of a broader rebellion against the ‘new ruling class and the political project they have imposed on the country over the last fifty years’.

Goodwin was a prescient analyst of this revolt, writing a decade ago, with Robert Ford, about the rise of UKIP and shifting our understanding of what was driving it. Their analysis of an increasing cultural cleavage in British society – between cities and towns, between young and old, and between graduates and non-graduates – has since become familiar. Its influence can be seen, for instance, in David Goodhart’s well-known description of the divide between ‘anywheres’ and ‘somewheres’.

Goodwin empathises strongly with the revolt and is a cheerleader for the realignment. He probably knows the data as well as anybody, but he deploys that evidence selectively, more in the style of a prosecuting barrister than a dispassionate judge, for this is a book as much of advocacy as

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