Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
Tel. +44 (0)20 7287 4414
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.
The Bruges Group spearheaded the intellectual battle to win a vote to leave the European Union and, above all, against the emergence of a centralised EU state.

Bruges Group Blog

Spearheading the intellectual battle against the EU. And for new thinking in international affairs.

Values, voice and virtue: the new British politics by Matthew Goodwin, paperback, 239 pages, ISBN 978-0-141-99908-9, Penguin, 2023, £10.99.

Matt-Goodwi_20231204-115126_1 Values, voice and virtue: the new British politics

This is a fascinating study of British society and politics.

There have been various popular insurgencies, including pro- and anti-Brexit, pro- and anti-Scottish separation, pro-Corbyn. Superficial explanations abound - social media, big tech, dark money, tabloid newspapers, fake news, lying campaigns, Farage, Russia, a slogan on a bus. But, as Goodwin observes, these stories are not convincing because they all ignore the deeper trends which have been changing societies and politics for decades.

For example, journalist Sathnam Sanghera wrote that "Brexiteers started pining, consciously and unconsciously, for some sort of rebirth of the empire." What, all 17.4 million of us? And if we denied that we were pining for it, does that prove we were pining for it unconsciously? And if we were still pining for empire in 2016, how come we weren't when we voted in 1975 to stay in the EEC? After all, the empire was 40 years nearer, and memories of it so much fresher, in 1975 than in 2016.

The referendum did prove how poorly MPs actually represent us. As he points out, 52 per cent of us voted for a policy that only 3 per cent of Labour MPs and 43 per cent of Conservative MPs wanted.

Goodwin is stunningly confused about class. He claims that "back in the 1960s, Britain's economy and society were dominated by white working-class men …" Really? The working class was in power?

He does note that "the top 1 per cent in Britain saw their strongest income growth of all and inequality reached new heights. When New Labour came to power, in 1997, … the average pay of Britain's CEOs was forty-seven times higher than the pay of the average worker; … twenty years later it had rocketed to 145 times higher." But he doesn't integrate this insight into his analysis of Britain's society.

He writes that now "a new middle class graduate elite" are "the people who really run Britain". Who are they? He tells us on page 11 that "the country's new ruling class" represent "no more than one quarter of Britain …".

By page 19, they apparently represent "only 12 per cent of Britain …" Three pages later, he tells us that "radical progressives are a smaller group within the new elite" and that this minority within this new ruling class represents "around 13 per cent of the British population". So a part is bigger than the whole? His approach seems to echo the tired trope of the Blob.

He notes that US Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan enthused in 2007, "thanks to globalisation, policy decisions in the US have been largely replaced by global market forces. National security aside, it hardly makes any difference who will be the next president. The world is governed by market forces."

And market forces decided that we were going to have free movement of capital, labour, goods and services, like it or not. Between 1991 and 1995, net immigration was just 37,000 a year. Since 1998, it has been over 100,000 every year.

The Labour government initiated this EU free movement of labour policy. Every subsequent Conservative government continued it. Between 2015 and 2019, net immigration was 266,000 a year. In 2022, it was 239,000.

In 2021, the government issued close to one million visas. In 2022, nearly 40,000 people, including 12,000 Albanians, arrived illegally in small boats in the Channel. Albania is not at war and has suffered no natural disasters. So how could any Albanian be a genuine refugee?

Also in 2021, it was revealed that throughout the previous decade net immigration had been 93,000 higher each year than the government had told us.

Consistently, between the 1980s and the 2010s, three-quarters of the British people wanted immigration reduced. But opposing mass immigration is not espousing racism: surveys show that levels of racial prejudice and intolerance of minorities are at record low levels. An Ipsos-MRI poll found that 90 per cent of British people have no problem with their child marrying somebody from a different ethnic or religious group, up from 75 per cent in 2009. Between 2011 and 2022, the share of British people who thought immigrants enrich Britain's cultural life increased from 26 per cent to 48 per cent. 

Font size: +

Related Posts

Contact us

Director : Robert Oulds
Tel: 020 7287 4414
Chairman: Barry Legg
The Bruges Group
246 Linen Hall, 162-168 Regent Street
London W1B 5TB
United Kingdom
Founder President :
The Rt Hon. the Baroness Thatcher of Kesteven LG, OM, FRS 
Vice-President : The Rt Hon. the Lord Lamont of Lerwick,
Chairman: Barry Legg
Director : Robert Oulds MA, FRSA
Washington D.C. Representative : John O'Sullivan CBE
Founder Chairman : Lord Harris of High Cross
Head of Media: Jack Soames