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Why Boris Johnson keeps on winning Despite a global pandemic and economic shutdown, the PM's popularity just won't wane

I'm so tired of pretending like my life isn't perfect and bitchin' and just winning every second. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images

I'm so tired of pretending like my life isn't perfect and bitchin' and just winning every second. Photo: Carl Court/Getty Images


July 27, 2020   7 mins

Boris Johnson has consistently been underestimated. Ever since he became the leader of the Conservative Party, just over a year ago, he has been routinely mocked and derided by people who have simultaneously failed to make sense of his appeal.

Despite the outbreak of a pandemic and the collapse of Britain’s economy, which just witnessed the biggest first-quarter contraction for more than 40 years, the Conservative Party is today averaging 43.6% of the vote — exactly what they polled at the election back in December. Despite an avalanche of criticism, Boris Johnson and his party continue to hold a healthy 7.5-point lead over Keir Starmer and Labour.

Labour has led just once in the polls in the past 12 months, and never outside the margin of error. Within five months of becoming leader, Johnson and his team had returned the Conservative Party to above the 40% threshold in the polls and they have stayed there ever since.

He has thus achieved what few of his predecessors managed. Theresa May routinely hit the forties but failed to achieve this degree of stability. David Cameron remained stuck in the thirties and never came close to building an electorate with as much breadth. John Major started off well but quickly slumped into the twenties.

To find a similar degree of constant and tribal support for the Conservative brand, you have to go all the way back to the spring of 1987 when Margaret Thatcher began a similar period of total dominance in the polls that lasted for around two years. Though even that is a little misleading — Thatcher might have had a lot going on, but she never had to grapple with a global pandemic and the shutdown of the entire economy.

And, so far at least, the people who put him into office like what he is doing. As recent polling revealed, when key groups in Johnson’s electorate are asked how “well or badly” he has done in his first year as Prime Minister, 81% of Conservatives and 68% of Leavers say “well”. Whereas the middle-classes say “badly”, the working-classes say “well”. Whereas Londoners say “badly”, non-London southerners say “well”. Johnson thus continues to ride the same fault lines that underpinned the vote for Brexit.

All of which raises the obvious question: why have Johnson’s voters stayed so loyal? Why has support remained so strong for a Prime Minister who is so widely criticised for his handling of the crisis, who is so often lumped together with Donald Trump and who is accused by more than a few commentators of leading a “far-right” or “populist” government?

Several tributaries are flowing into this stability. The first thing to remember is how Boris Johnson achieved power. He pushed through what David Cameron had little interest in and Theresa May never really understood  — the “realignment” of British politics. By organising around Brexit, which was itself an expression of a deeper fault line, Johnson was able to consolidate the Leave vote.

By doing so, he was able to anchor his party far more securely in a cross-class coalition of traditional “true blue” Tories and instinctively socially conservative blue-collar workers. By doing so, Johnson injected a greater degree of tribalism into his electorate and, by extension, a greater degree of “cultural polarisation” into the country. In a country where six in every ten constituencies broke for Brexit, this strategy makes sense. You might not like it but, electorally, strategically, it makes complete sense.

It also brings us to a point that many of his critics have failed to grasp. What unites Boris Johnson’s voters is not so much their economic experience, as their values. They prioritise the nation and the national community. They prefer stability over change. And they favour continuity over disruption and discontinuity. This is why they cherish Britain’s history, heritage and collective memory and are more sensitive to attempts to deconstruct them. And while they acknowledge that this history is complex, they believe that, on the whole, it was positive and that Britain has been a force for good in the world. In short, they believe in their country. They are proud of it. And they are proud of their fellow citizens.

This brings us to a deeper point. Ever since the vote for Brexit, Left-wing and liberal writers have been consumed by “declinism”; the belief that Britain’s best days are in the past. Declinists are united by the assumption that, because of decisions that went against their own politics, Britain has become a diminished world power, is falling behind other states and is led by incompetent, amateurish elites who either lack the required expertise or “correct” ideology to reverse this decline or, worse, are actively perpetuating it.

Declinists share several other characteristics. They ignore any evidence that runs counter to their gloomy view of the world. They refuse to engage seriously or meaningfully with projects that sit outside of, or challenge, their ideological priors. They ignore the question of how flaws in their own political project contributed to the current one. They adopt a condescending if not openly hostile attitude toward their fellow citizens, who are routinely chastised for having made the “wrong” choice or been “duped” by elites.

They advocate a view of the world that is almost wholly focused on technocracy, process and economic management — the health of the nation is measured solely through GDP. And they are often, though not always, narcissistic, failing to conceal their inner belief that it is they who are morally superior to their fellow citizens and more worthy of determining the future direction of the country. You can read declinists monthly in the New York Times, weekly in the Guardian and daily in the Financial Times.

Declinism is not a new phenomenon and nor is it always a bad thing. It has a long and rich history and has often raised valuable points about where and how the settlement has gone wrong. As Richard English and Michael Kenny have observed, “[o]ne of the foremost preoccupations of Britain’s political elite, and of leading intellectuals throughout the twentieth century, has been with the question of ‘decline’: whether it has occurred, why it has done so and what should be done to remedy it”.

Today’s declinists stand on the shoulders of writers who wrote books such as The Stagnant Society, Anatomy of a Nation and Suicide of a Nation, which all pointed the finger at out-of-touch elites who were charged with lacking experience and dynamism. They were later joined by the likes of Correlli Barnett, Will Hutton, Samuel Brittan and David Marquand, many of whom made valuable points about where Britain had gone wrong.

But, at the same time, declinists, by their very nature, seldom remain in the world of objective reality. They have a habit of becoming so committed to the idea of decline that they are neither able to see the world in a balanced way nor in a way that most ordinary voters see it. And this brings me back to the appeal of Johnson.

One reason why declinists are so vicious is that they have found themselves written out of the national story — election defeats or referendum outcomes have left them on the sidelines, with little power or influence. One reason why Boris Johnson, Michael Gove, Dominic Cummings and Munira Mirza have been so strongly attacked is not only because they committed the double sin of being Conservatives and Brexiteers, but because they are essentially the first group to have gone up against the “liberal establishment” and won.

It is perhaps no coincidence that the two most visible outbursts of declinism in post-war British politics arrived in the early 1960s, after a decade of Conservative dominance, and today, after a decade of Conservative dominance and the vote for Brexit. Both moments essentially pushed Britain’s Left-leaning “educated classes” out of the mainstream and into the margins. This loss of power and influence is incredibly troubling for highly-educated declinists who derive their sense of self, esteem and social status from their careers and achievements.

It is again perhaps no coincidence that some of the voices who are most strongly critical of Johnson were either deeply-embedded into the liberal Left networks that surrounded the elite-driven Remain campaign or, in earlier days, installed in the corridors of power during 13 years of New Labour rule.

Many voters simply do not share this incredibly negative view of the world. They want to look forwards not back. The problem with declinism is that whereas objective criticism is an essential part of any democracy, the declinist narrative tends to send voters the message that elites have little interest in joining the new settlement and do not really have time for, or respect, their fellow citizens who want to build it. This magnifies the disconnect that helped to bring Johnson to power in the first place.

Meanwhile, in today’s politics this tradition is being infused with a new and more toxic strand of thought that goes further than just claims of national decline. Laced through much of the backlash against Johnson is not just criticism of the current direction of travel, but a “culture of repudiation”. The politics of repudiation is reflected in repeated claims that Britain is ridden with racism, that its history was more negative than positive, that its contribution to the world has been more bad than good and that its people should feel ashamed and seek forgiveness on the basis of an incredibly narrow interpretation of events which took place centuries ago. It is also deeply selective, for example glossing over Johnson’s commitment to “level-up” impoverished regions or welcome persecuted Hong-Kongers.

The most ethnically-diverse cabinet in British history is similarly derided or dismissed as representing the “wrong” type of diversity. The culture of repudiation projects an image of a country that most people neither recognise nor would want to be a part of. It is, at its core, deeply divisive and conflicts with the British people’s preference for moderation, tolerance and balance. The culture of repudiation goes a long way to explaining why the British people returned Labour to its lowest number of seats since 1935.

When combined, these two strands of thought amount to a highly negative view of the country and its people — an approach that is obsessed with historic injustices, with what sets people apart rather than what brings them together and with deconstructing all of the national traditions, identities, myths and collective memories that underpin our collective nationhood. There is no positive vision because declinism and the culture of repudiation are really only interested in explaining what they dislike and hate about the country — and that puts them at odds with most people.

It also reflects a lack of imagination. Many of the arguments that are being levelled at Johnson today — that he represents an elite “old boys” network that is amateurish and unable to lead the country — are the very same ones that were levelled at conservatives during the postwar years. And then along came somebody called Mrs Thatcher who, like Johnson, tapped into a much broader coalition by expressing her belief in Britain and the British people. Thatcher, like Johnson, made mistakes. But both offered the electorate a rebuttal to declinism and repudiation and were rewarded.

This, in my mind at least, helps to explain why so many people have remained so loyal to Johnson and why they are generally willing to give him a free pass when he fumbles the more technocratic or process-led side of politics. They are not standing behind him because of what Michael Oakeshott called the politics of pragmatism — they do not see the world as the declinists see it, as merely an exercise in performance management.

Nor do they rate the health of the nation solely through GDP. The reason Johnson is still gliding above 40% is because of what Oakeshott called the politics of faith. Johnson is offering a positive and forward-looking creed that is more interested in national renewal and salvation than decline and repudiation. He is proud of the country and its people. And until his opponents figure this out and change track, then I suspect that many of those voters will continue to stand behind him while keeping their distance from his critics.


Matthew Goodwin is Professor of Politics at the University of Kent. His new book, Values, Voice and Virtue: The New British Politics, is out on March 30.

GoodwinMJ

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Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago

Good column. But unfortunately I’m not sure that the Left-leaning ‘educated’ classes have been deprived of power in any meaningful sense. They may have had the immediate levers of parliamentary power wrested out of their hands but they still control the country’s official culture and if they haven’t got the power (or the desire) to do anything positive, they are able to derail and wreck on a grand scale – as we see. It will take more than a sunny disposition to make any progress against them – it will take courage and quite a bit of the kind of ruthlessness they themselves show.

matthewspring
matthewspring
3 years ago

Very true. There is much work to be done, starting perhaps with media and schools.

stephen17891789
stephen17891789
3 years ago
Reply to  matthewspring

So whining about “activist journalists” and firing teacher who do not swear personal loyalty to brexit and Cummings?

Andy Redman
Andy Redman
3 years ago

just activist journalists of any hue, maybe?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Redman

daily mail, telegraph, spectator, sun, express…let’s not pretend that Tories (conservatives) do not get representation in the media.

johnabrams1111
johnabrams1111
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Difference is it’s not enforced by taxation

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  johnabrams1111

True, nothing stopped the Conservatives from dominating the media (BBC).

trentvalley57uk
trentvalley57uk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Notice you omitted the 2 most powerful political arms of the far left woke society BBC and SKY

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

mail &Telegraph have New Editors who are globalists.So propanganda is Still greater..The hysteria over ”The Warmest day ever” at heathrow Jly 31 is An inaccurate fallacy Tarmac artificially inflates reading..Also trying to fix ”data” is not going to work much longer..

trentvalley57uk
trentvalley57uk
3 years ago

Nope. The new cultural marxism of the far left and their Antifa and SJW antisemitic supporters. Politics, drag queens and overt sexulisation of kids need to be removed from schools

iambetsytrotwood
iambetsytrotwood
3 years ago
Reply to  matthewspring

And scrapping food subsidy to make everyone thinner & in touch with the deadly sin of Greed rather than see Greed as A Good Thing? & Lo, the tide will come uppeth (with climate change) & washeth the people away. The animals on Noah’s dingys will have long been eateneth.

Diana Durham
Diana Durham
3 years ago

Just as Brexit showed up the extent to which Remainers and the Left had veered away from the idea that they were answerable to democratic vote of the British citizenry, so now the Conservative majority (more than simply the personality of Johnson) is beginning to reveal to a wider and wider awareness the extent to which the toxic message behind the ‘culture of repudiation has infiltrated schools, universities, the police, and the BBC. And once again, as this dawns on the British people, it will hopefully also mark the beginning of its demise.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Diana Durham

48% of the people voted Remain ! Hardly the definition of the “elite”.
Look at the demographics, Leavers are old and Remainers are young.

stephen17891789
stephen17891789
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The brexit notion of democracy more resembles far right and far left tyranny, and platitudes about “the will of the people”, than it does western democracy. In no democracy are the losers expected to agree with the winners. Fox hunters – mostly right wing Tories – ignored three election wins by Labour with a manifesto commitment to abolish fox hunting and continue to organise against its implementation. Which was their right in a democracy.

Andy Redman
Andy Redman
3 years ago

democracy relies upon loser’s consent

dansmith1763
dansmith1763
3 years ago
Reply to  Andy Redman

I keep hearing this from Brexiteers it doesnt mean what you think it means. Losers Consent is you accept you have lost and are perfectly entitled to campaign to reverse the position next time. Losers consent is not you have to suddenly reverse your beliefs and support the winner.

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
3 years ago
Reply to  dansmith1763

You’re confusing “campaigning to reverse the position next time” with actively seeking to block a democratic decision using any and all means available.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Quentin Vole

ERG voted against May’s deal. Did they block the democratic decision?

Ben Dobbyn
Ben Dobbyn
3 years ago

What is point in having the same tired arguments over and over again. It’s like intellectual Alzheimer’s.

T J Putnam
T J Putnam
3 years ago
Reply to  Ben Dobbyn

Not running away from their truth, are you?

David Gould
David Gould
3 years ago

The hunt I supported had more than it’s fair share of ragarsed Labour supporters I was one of many . Most of the hunters were hard working salt of the earth self employed builder, chippy’s , electricians, plumbers mechanics
With that chip on each shouldre I’m not really surprised you didn’t look into who they are rather than plonk you cosy comforter blanket over them all . They have as much right as you do do what is legal .

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Only on balance. There were (not are) plenty of young Leavers and plenty of old Remainers – the House of Lords for example.

David Gould
David Gould
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Those rose tinted blinkers are not helping you , you’d be very surprised at the number of school children/students are heartily sick of the constant belittling whine we hear from the more negative folk that infest our political scene and inhabit the local authorities in a job for life mindset .

Esmon Dinucci
Esmon Dinucci
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Not any more – and young people, almost invariably, grow and mature – especially if they become parents – more reasonable and sensible. Maybe that’s one of the reasons the left wishes to destroy family stability.

alancoles10
alancoles10
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

you seem to forget the young grow up!!

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  alancoles10

They have been growing up since the 68 Lefty Revolution. And yet in many controversial social/political issues (race, sex, divorce, abortion, gay, etc) they have not grown to conservatism.

RORY SMITH
RORY SMITH
3 years ago
Reply to  alancoles10

Quite right, People change. When I first started voting, I voted Labour. Now I wouldn’t touch them with a ten foot barge pole!.

RORY SMITH
RORY SMITH
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Not entirely true regarding young voters. If you look deeper into the figures, 75 per cent of all young people under 25 voted to remain.Broken down 55 per cent of working class kids voted to remain. . So to bring the overall figure to 75 percent means that 95 per cent of middle class and upper class kids voted to remain.A small swing of 6 per cent the other way. would have meant, working class kids rejecting the EU. In my opinion there is a bigger class divide than age divide over Brexit.

stephen17891789
stephen17891789
3 years ago
Reply to  Diana Durham

I am under no obligation, legal moral or political, to respect your brexit ideology. The only obligation I have is to obey the law. Unless you have evidence that remainers broke the law in voicing their opposition and disquiet over brexit, your objections amount to no more that emoting and annoyance that we do not agree with you. Tough.

Quentin Vole
Quentin Vole
3 years ago

The Remain faction didn’t need to break the law, they remade the law in their own interests. You can voice your evident distaste for the majority of your fellow voters as much as you like, it has provided us with many hours of harmless amusement.

Peter Mott
Peter Mott
3 years ago

Absolutely correct. But a lot of people lost respect for that Parliament because of its contorted attempts to undo the Referendum (“People’s Vote”, taking control etc etc). Much blame for this lies with ex-Speaker Bercow, who will not receive a peerage, for distorting the procedures of the Commons.

mark.hanson
mark.hanson
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Mott

Ah yes, Bercow not getting a peerage, in breach of a centuries-old parliamentary tradition, so much for “They prefer stability over change. And they favour continuity over
disruption and discontinuity. This is why they cherish Britain’s
history, heritage and collective memory”…. except when they want to be spiteful and mean.
Goodwin’s failure to mention any role for the tens of Billions of Pounds sloshing out of HMT during Covid in the government’s polling numbers does somewhat undercut his thesis that the “liberal Elite” have only themselves to blame for Johnson’s popularity for not “getting” patriotism.

David Gould
David Gould
3 years ago

The law is we have left the EU , get over yourself & keep taking your medicine for goodness sake it shows every time you miss a dose of it .

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Diana Durham

Actually 5.2Million Labour voters (Fair few in their 20s)Voted Out of Shrinking GDP EU Vulture capitalists & Leftwing Brainwashing …BLM is marxist; Know they can never gain Power by Ballot,so resort to violence,Lies and Current violent shambles in Seattle,Portland Will rebound on Democrats this november,Polls Showing Perv Joe Biden Winning a landslide,Sound Similar to 2016 Fixed Polls….I tend to Favour INdependents in Uk or SDP as opposition to 1)HS2 2)People trafficking &illegal immigration 3)Concreting over Greenfields in East Midlands,Kent,Sussex,etc 4) Enlaging ”Sugar Tax” on Chocolates Why do I have to pay for Boris’s obesity?..Each one Will Cost Tories just as a ”Fake brexit” Will revive brexit Party *&Independents..

T J Putnam
T J Putnam
3 years ago
Reply to  Diana Durham

Actually more and more are waking up to the hollow myth making of this lot in Government people lent their trust to, the beginning of their demise.

Howard Gleave
Howard Gleave
3 years ago

I agree with you. I was bitterly disappointed that Johnson did not energetically rebut the BLM protests’ narrative. The UK is not the US and, outrageous as the killing of George Floyd was, on both sides of the Pond it is Blacks who are the main killers of Blacks. The Far Left and Remainia in general holds sway in the culture war. They aren’t going away, so they will have to be taken on and defeated.

alun Crockford
alun Crockford
3 years ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

I suspect Mr Johnson is allowing BLM to carry on doing what they are doing, as the more the public see, particuarly with reference to the leaders of the movment the less relervance they will have. Responding is simply giving them oxygen .

stephen17891789
stephen17891789
3 years ago
Reply to  alun Crockford

I think you’ll find that black lives matter resonates quite well with black people, or don’t they count as people? By the by, in the ante-bellum USA black people counted as 3/5 of a human being for the purposes of assessing a state’s house representation. Is that where you are coming from?

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago

Not sure why that is relevant to Blighty but, by the by, it was the anti slave states who insisted on blacks being counted as 3/5 for the purposes of representation, and they would have preferred 0/5. The slave states wanted the black population to be counted fully, even though they couldn’t vote. I think it’s obvious why. The anti slavery response to the slave states was; if you aren’t going to let these people vote how can you use them to count how many representatives you get?

Naren Savani
Naren Savani
3 years ago
Reply to  alun Crockford

You are absolutely right. The most racist are the left liberals who think other races have no agency and have to be spoken for and saved. You will notice this phenomenon in some of the replies you get!

nictrevor00
nictrevor00
3 years ago
Reply to  alun Crockford

I so agree

stephen17891789
stephen17891789
3 years ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

The “Far Left” (what a strange illiterate use of capitals!) are all brexit comrades of yours. The SWP, the CPGB, all brexiters, with the Morning Star advocating a “WTO brexit”. You’ll also find that many of us anti-brexiters are not remotely left wing.

Jonathan Story
Jonathan Story
3 years ago

But intensely snobbish. BLM is a Marxist outfit-abolish the family, Lenin’s old demand-the abolition of which is the CENTRAL problem facing Black people in the US. Prez Johnson, formerly of the KuK, ensured that the Black voters would be placerd ona the federal plantation, and for generations. Prior to the 1950s, Black education was as good as any in the US. Black families had dads at home. Then, came cynical federal largesse, and disaster. No recognition of this by “progressives” in the US. Parallel story in the UK.

dansmith1763
dansmith1763
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

What planet are you on if you think education of Black children in the US was on a par with white children, in the 1950’s.

1950’s when we had active apartheid in multiple states,

BLM in the UK as a website is a bunch of Left Wingers jumping on a bandwagon. The wider movement is real, and came out of mothers in the US protesting the murder of their children.

Naren Savani
Naren Savani
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

“Pompous” is the word which came to mind, but snobbish equally fits the bill.

mark.hanson
mark.hanson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

Your assertion that “Prior to the 1950s Black education was as good as any” is simply counter-factual.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Jonathan Story

“Prior to the 1950s, Black education was as good as any in the US.”

LOL

RORY SMITH
RORY SMITH
3 years ago

‘You’ll also find that many of us anti-brexiters are not remotely left wing.’. So are you trying to say that the anti- Brexit Labour. Lib Dems and SNP and their supporters are not left wing?.If you believe these parties are not left wing, your view of British politics is a very strange one indeed.

Chris Francis
Chris Francis
3 years ago
Reply to  Howard Gleave

What is it about the BLM narrative that frightens you so much?

Esmon Dinucci
Esmon Dinucci
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Francis

They want to destroy capitalism, destroy family structures, open all prisons, and get rid of law and order. Then they want to install – if the Uber factionalism doesn’t destroy them all – Soviet style arrangements that have evidentially always failed the people they purport to represent and save.

T J Putnam
T J Putnam
3 years ago
Reply to  Esmon Dinucci

Haven’t noticed any of that stuff, you’re trying it on.

RORY SMITH
RORY SMITH
3 years ago
Reply to  T J Putnam

It was on their website. You really should try to keep up.

Esmon Dinucci
Esmon Dinucci
3 years ago
Reply to  T J Putnam

You need to look at their gofundme page and read it – it is there in plain sight.

John Nutkins
John Nutkins
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Francis

Does your question reflect utter naivety or are you being cynical? Or are you ignorant of BLM’s aims?

Martin Adams
Martin Adams
3 years ago

I agree with you. In a separate post I have suggested that Prof. Goodwin’s analysis points towards the probable popularity of policies that are more socially conservative. But will they do it? Your final sentence nails my own reservations about the likelihood of that happening ” “them” and “they” being the left-leaning powers who, for the health of this country, need to be curtailed:

It will take more than a sunny disposition to make any progress against them – it will take courage and quite a bit of the kind of ruthlessness they themselves show.

Thank you!

stephen17891789
stephen17891789
3 years ago

How do they “control” the UK’s “official culture”? I am Oxford educated and have had a prosperous professional life. I am not sure “power” I have in comparison with a government which has armed forces, armed police and surveillance infrastructure to enforce its will. Your complaints sound rather paranoid and conspiratorial. I certainly haven’t the power to wreck anything. If brexit fails to achieve anything positive, for the economy or the social fabric, then that will 100% the responsibility of the brexit government bringing it about.

Andrew Thompson
Andrew Thompson
3 years ago

You read very much like the declinists talked about in this article. Calm down dear its only Brexit, move on now.

J J
J J
3 years ago

The Government can’t use the Armed Forces and Security Services to fight off the liberal elite who largely control every other public institution and the media. I believe there are laws against it. So your argument is mute.

Michael Spooner
Michael Spooner
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

moot?

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
3 years ago

‘ why have Johnson’s voters stayed so loyal?’

Because they do not live in the journo-twittersphere of outrage and confected liberalism ?

Amazingly, when they see the problems in the economy they ascribe it to the pandemic and not necessarily to poor government. When they see ‘criticism’ they see opportunists and click-bait.

Who’d have thunk ?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Lee Johnson

Because they are pensioners and unemployed. We know who voted Leave and Remain.

trentvalley57uk
trentvalley57uk
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Check the stats. Highest voting area for brexit middle england

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

Middle England is not old?

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

How old are you Jewemy ?

andy young
andy young
3 years ago
Reply to  Lee Johnson

About 12 I’d guess. In terms of emotional development anyway.

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The data showed people above the age of 40 disproportionately voted Conservative and under 40 Labour. That is hardly ‘pensioners’. The unemployed disproportionately voted Labour, not Conservative. It was the employed working classes who voted Con, with the exception of ethnic minorities and public service workers. Although Con actually won in all the social classes.

Do your research before posting next time

T J Putnam
T J Putnam
3 years ago
Reply to  Lee Johnson

You’re not paying attention, the tide is running out fast on the hopes invested in Boris. No 10 know this, that’s why they are flailing around.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  T J Putnam

Yes it’s turning out like a tragedy from Aeschylus. The Goddess Fortuna, gives Boris both Brexit, and the greatest electoral triumph in years.

Sadly he indulges in Hubris, thus provoking the wrath of the Goddess Nemesis, who throws C-19 at him and destroys him.

A poignant tale of triumph and tragedy compressed into little more than a year. “Consummatum est”?

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

To suggest that BJ was somehow the cause of a global pandemic is a little on the stupid side, wouldn’t you say. No government of any persuasion could have had a different outcome, indeed many would have done much worse. It’s clear the government followed the advice of the scientific advisers to the letter. Go and read the SAGE minutes.

The polling is clear, all the people who voted for BJ in the landslide election still support him. All those who voted Labour or Libdem still hate him. COVID has made no difference.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Don’t be ridiculous, I’m certainly not saying he “was somehow the cause of the global pandemic”
However I do maintain that he has, and still is, handling it poorly.

Whatever SAGE says it’s up to him to use his unique judgment.
In short he should have followed Sweden not SAGE, as he is not as it has turned out, a natural leader, but rather a supine follower. I, and I suspect you, had hoped for much, much, more.

Incidentally I lay the complete blame for this C-19 fiasco at the feet of the pestilential Chinese.
Don’t you?

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

@Irony detector enabled@

iambetsytrotwood
iambetsytrotwood
3 years ago
Reply to  Lee Johnson

Spot on. What a breath of fresh air Goodwin is! His intellectual courage in his world of academia is all the more impressive. Behind today’s Declinist’s Narcissism lies unconscious, pathological envy – hence their hot resistance to its acknowledgement. Pathetic!

Paul Blakemore
Paul Blakemore
3 years ago

A clear-eyed and accurate summary of the state-of-play in Britain today. Excellent stuff Mr Goodwin!

O C
O C
3 years ago

I had the pleasure to meet Matthew Goodwin at an event and he is very compelling. I find the last sentence here most worrying for Labour. MG told a story about going to Parliament to show his findings to both Labour and Tories in ~2016/17 and when he briefed Labour they did not have a single question. When he briefed the Tories, Lynton Crosby kept him in the room and forensically questioned everything from his methodology to his actual findings. I don’t think much has changed – Labour simply has no desire to listen to anyone with a different view to their own.

dansmith1763
dansmith1763
3 years ago
Reply to  O C

I suspect today Labour would be more open to interegating the data.

2017 the Corbyn Camp inside Labour were in the process of winning the Civil War that had been raging since he came to power in 2016. The idea that either faction inside Labour at that point was interested in anything other than their internal Civil War is naive.

plynamno1
plynamno1
3 years ago
Reply to  dansmith1763

I’m sure he was elected party leader in summer 2015. Then his hard-core Remainer opponents, who’d been defeated in the Referendum on UK Membership of the EU, forced another party leadership ballot in summer 2016 that he won with an even bigger majority.

He was saddled with his party’s Remainer policy, unfortunately ” having done well at the 2017 general election by claiming respect for the 2016 Referendum result ” a now openly Remainer policy presented by the likes of Jenny Chapman, Sir Keir Starmer and almost all of the PLP. And so his and their ‘goose was cooked’ well before the 2019 general election.

Starmer & Co blame Corbyn on their 2019 general election defeat though really he was just the face of their mistaken and anti-democratic policy stance.

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  O C

I think the problem is that it’s technically impossible for the Left to address the concern raised by Goodwin. They believe the history of the UK is one of exploitation. That the UK is essentially an evil, imperial, capitalist construct. A country full of racism, injustice, sexism, inequality and poverty. The majority of the country know this to be untrue. But such a belief underpins the political philosophy of the Left, if they deny this narrative then their ideology collapses. So they are stuck with it. The best they can do is openly reject their own history and move to the centre (as Blair did), but as Boris’s fat arse is clearly sat front and centre on the middle ground, they can’t even do that. Boris is essentially kryptonite to the Left, that’s why they hate him so much.

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  O C

I think the problem is that it’s technically impossible for the Left to address the concern raised by Goodwin. They believe the history of the UK is one of exploitation. That the UK is essentially an evil, imperial, capitalist construct. A country full of racism, injustice, sexism, inequality and poverty. The majority of the country know this to be untrue. But such a belief underpins the political philosophy of the Left, if they deny this narrative then their ideology collapses. So they are stuck with it. The best they can do is openly reject their own history and move to the centre (as Blair did), but as Boris’s fat bum has clearly sat itself on the middle ground, they can’t even do that. Boris is essentially kryptonite to the Left, that’s why they hate him so much.

T J Putnam
T J Putnam
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

Boris was kryptonite to Corbyn for sure and now looks to be kryptonite for his own brief hegemony.

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  T J Putnam

His Party and his own leadership still substantially outperform the main opposition Left wing party in the polls. Despite the biggest health and economic crisis for 75 years. I suspect he is not going anywhere.

T J Putnam
T J Putnam
3 years ago
Reply to  O C

Keep more up to date. Labour has a lot to prove but it’s no longer the Corbyn club Tories prefer to fight

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

A vote for labour or the lib dems is a vote for never ending negativity, derision and hatred for this country, its people and its history.
Keir starmer and who ever ends up running the lib dems will be proven remainers and 2nd referendumers and are therefore irrelevant or outright dangerous for the working classes

graham68
graham68
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

Starmer has made it clear that rejoining is not high on his list of priorities.

stephen17891789
stephen17891789
3 years ago
Reply to  graham68

Well Starmer is not stupid enough to walk into a big hole festooned with banners proclaiming “elephant trap”. In the case of brexit, let this brexit government have all the rope it needs to hang itself. Any intervention on his part would be used against him. Everything that happens now is the responsibility of Cummings and Johnson. There are no perfidious remainers anywhere near power. Everyone in the cabinet is a brexit zealot. They wanted power. Let them make of it what they can. They may find that reality is not as biddable as low information voters

Nick Whitehouse
Nick Whitehouse
3 years ago

Stephen,
You are really showing us peasants that you are clever.
I see no intention in your remarks as accepting the democratic vote.
Perhaps, now that we are leaving, you might consider doing your best to make it a success for the benefit of everybody.
Or even mitigating the disaster that you foresee, it might make you feel better.
.

David Gould
David Gould
3 years ago

He has to get out the political anti sematic swamp first then remove his rose tinted blinkers to find the elephant trap .
The more he bleats the deeper his mouth & mindset drags him in

Hugh Jarse
Hugh Jarse
3 years ago

Always wondered what is in grapes that make them taste so sour…?

plynamno1
plynamno1
3 years ago
Reply to  graham68

What’s it doing on his list at all?

stephen17891789
stephen17891789
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

People who work are “working class”. I am not really interested in the destructive and violent class war politics that infects the far right and far left. In fact the majority of those who voted for remain were in work. That is to say, working class. If you are an unemployable loser who blames immigrants for why your life has been a failure then whatever you are, working class you are not.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago

Oh dear!
So anyone with a job, from the floor cleaner, to the barrister whose floor she scrubs, is working class. And anyone who is unemployed is unemployable, due of course to their own fecklessness.
Do not choke on your own sense of entitlement Stephen.

dansmith1763
dansmith1763
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

The vast majority of unemployed Pensioners voted Leave.

The majoity of the employed working class voted remain.

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  dansmith1763

There is a very clear analytical distinction between those who work in middle and upper class jobs and those who work in working class jobs. If you are unaware of this distinction, you really should not be involved in this discussion.

And for the record, pensioners use to work too, before they become pensioners.

Paul Theato
Paul Theato
3 years ago

Johnson has Olympus Mons to climb on roller skates before I consider him to be serving my conservative and patriotic interests. His only appeal for me was that he was not the grotesque political Neanderthal, Jeremy Corbyn, or yet another anti-Britain, Postmodern, democracy-lite, deluded nutcase from the Liberal Democrats. It’s easy to win when the opposition is so appalling.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Theato

Yes, I was about to make the same point. Matthew’s analysis is correct with regard to the Declinists, but this only goes so far and is something of an intellectual side issue. The fact remains that Boris and the Tories continue to be popular partly because they appear to be getting Brexit done, and partly because the other parties are full of such extraordinarily nasty and incompetent people, the sort of people whose only possible home is the modern Labour and LibDem parties.

That aside, is it not something of irony that the Declinists tend to be the least patriotic of people, yet are forever obsessed with the country’s ‘influence’ and status etc? I suspect they are not particularly concerned with the country’s influence and status, but with their own influence and status.

Caroline Galwey
Caroline Galwey
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Nail on head!

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Theato

Yes, spot on! He has ‘shrieker’ form and it is beginning to show.

His response to ‘The Great Panic'(TGP) has been feeble in the extreme. Does he deserve an iota of sympathy because he was so nearly scythed down by C-19? No,off course not. He had already rendered himself ” not fit for purpose” by over indulgence on a scale that would make even Billy Bunter blush.

Worse, his obsession with TGP has meant not a scintilla of effort has been put into preventing 3000 plus illegal paddlers crossing the Channel this year.

He may have successfully crossed the Brexit Rubicon, but he is going to have do much better to achieve the ‘Triumph’ he so abjectly craves.

alun Crockford
alun Crockford
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Would it be fair to assume you did not vote Conservative?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  alun Crockford

No, off course not. As many have so appositely said what alternative is there?

However if Boris wishes to play Caesar, he has got to start acting like Caesar.

John Champness
John Champness
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Theato

Yes, the opposition in 2019 was poor and ineffective, so it became an easy Conservative win; and Labour continues to be destructively inward-looking. But I won’t enjoy participating in Unherd if comment veers away from policy debate into unmoderated name-calling such as “grotesque political Neanderthal, Jeremy Corbyn, or yet another… deluded nutcase from the Liberal Democrats”. It’s harder to debate policy issues than to rubbish politicians personally – but probably worth the effort, as the main essays show.

Paul Theato
Paul Theato
3 years ago
Reply to  John Champness

I agree with you John and accept your rebuke. I’m lazy and guilty as charged. I could blame a volcanic anger at the state of our democracy and those responsible for it, but there are better and more productive ways to deal with that.

Ian Barton
Ian Barton
3 years ago

Ironically, while the BBC continue to push this “declinist, negative, repudiating” agenda, the “better educated” will remain forever cognitively-biased, frustrated and out of power …

porkthistle
porkthistle
3 years ago

Whatever his many faults Johnson offers hope and optimism. Starmer and Labour come across as sour, miserable and negative.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  porkthistle

“… his many faults …”
a pathological liar?
Starmer is serious, BoJo is a clown. The British (should I say English) love their clowns.

Chris Francis
Chris Francis
3 years ago
Reply to  porkthistle

Nice bit of divisive generalising. He can certainly offer hope and optimism from his guilded cage. Let’s hope he can deliver.

John Munro
John Munro
3 years ago
Reply to  porkthistle

Any fool can go in for mindless boosterism but at some point reality has a dreadful habit of intervening and successful delivery of something is required.

Alan Matthes
Alan Matthes
3 years ago

Sadly, the Tories have moved so far to the left there is nothing remotely ‘conservative’ about them. They have presided over years of mass migration from outside the EU, they have allowed the relentless advance of woke progressive politics throughout our institutions and now favour ‘pushing cultural change’ (as Priti Patel puts it). Why not actually defend our culture, identity and way of life? This nation will die of apathy under a grinning Tory baffoon.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago

This despite the fact that he’s a Russian asset according to the observer/guardian.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

You don’t seriously believe that do you?
Even Diogenes would be shocked.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

No. Of course not. The entire Russian interference – from trump Brexit and the elections – is nonsense. A few tweets. Have a look at carole cadwalladr’a twitter though. A lot of people drinking the kool aid. Boris being a Russian Asset and Cummings and Trump and the Brexiteers.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Eugene Norman

Good man! You had me worried for a moment.

Mark Robertson
Mark Robertson
3 years ago

The view from Scotland is very different.

The Johnsonian “positive and forward-looking creed that is more interested in national renewal and salvation than decline and repudiation” and Boris’ posh-boy image do not gel here. The Union is at serious risk and popular unionism has not recovered from Ruth Davidson’s departure. Ruth was high profile and popular across the board. Jackson Carlaw is a weak contender. Boris risks being the last prime minister of the UK.

Vicki Robinson
Vicki Robinson
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Robertson

Yes, I agree. Boris embodies a certain type of English poshness intensely disliked north of the border. He didn’t help himself on his recent visit by saying the union is strong, rather than acknowledging that many Scots are very unhappy and the UK is now very fragile. He could, and should, have listened to ordinary people seriously considering independence.

However, the English left has contributed to the situation too. They seem angry and frustrated with England, unable to accept the large number of small-c conservatives who will vote for a moderate Labour party but not a radical left one. This has left Scotland stuck with a Conservative government it does not want.

It’s very sad because I believe England wants change as much as Scotland.

Iain Muir
Iain Muir
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Robertson

Sadly, Scotland is badly infected with a particularly sour strain of inverted snobbery which colours much of its political thinking. I hear it all the time. England is showing positive signs of moving away from this mindset. I’m still waiting for Scotland to grow up and show signs of doing the same.

John Munro
John Munro
3 years ago
Reply to  Iain Muir

No. We simply despise Johnson for the lazy, over entitled, amoral and incompetent liar that he is. Its not inverted snobbery; simply realism.

He failed badly in Scotland. He didn’t have 75% or so of the MSM fawning on him and was opposed by a disciplined party which knows how to win elections.

Iain Muir
Iain Muir
3 years ago
Reply to  John Munro

It’s not about Johnson; it’s older than that.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Robertson

Scotland Cannot be Independent in EU, Cannot afford to Join the Euro,Dictator v Sturgeon is Not as popular as the illiberal liberals in media make out ,she is Kept in Power by the Greens who are another bunch of Nanny state,Climate deluded *** who will never Gain Credence in England,Wales,Northern Ireland. If Dopey SNP ( Nazi Sympathisers since 1934) Want to put a border across their best Customer.Then Scottish beef Farmers will lose out to English &NZ farm produce

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago

One of the most interesting elements of Covid 19 has been the decline in the support and belief in the media. This appears to have come about due to their constant attempt to blame Johnson for everything. From Morgan in the morning screaming lockdown for no good reason to Peston, Kuensburg, Rigby and the other “talking heads” at the evening briefing asking the same, usually irrelevant, question to pin blame rather than gain insight and understanding. While in Scotland the same organisation fawn over Sturgeon.

Then we have the Newsnight diatribe, contributors with obvious political sympathies not being disclosed, twitter accounts that show political bias from those who claim to be impartial and a constant stream of “it’s all terrible here”.

We are an optimistic country and Johnson gives us an optimistic vision for the future. Those who dislike him are pessimistic. We shouldn’t be surprised when the country asks for the glass to be half full!

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

Belief in MSM has been going on for a long time, hardly new.
“We are an optimistic country and Johnson gives us an optimistic vision for the future.”
Did Tony Blair win election by NOT being optimistic?

Let’s see how optimism will fix Blackpool!
Make Med vacations illegal?

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The decline in support for the media has been very noticeable over the period of lockdown. There are several polls on the issue showing a downward trend. The light of television has shown up their questioning as inept!

I would argue that Tony Blair’s victor in 1997 was based purely on personal attacks on John Major and other members of his government. (and yes there was a lot of material to work with!) His government was very cynical and we can all remember “cash for honours”, Mandelson’s house, passports for Hinduja brothers, 45 minutes to a WDM attack from Iraq and many more times the public where manipulated. By the time he left government the country was even more cynical of politics than it was in 1997. I recently watched the Election 97 program on BBC Parliament. The gushing praise of Blair has not stood the test of time!

As for Blackpool, there are figures out today suggesting the number of people taking holidays in the UK has shot up. It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow anyone any good and Blackpool and other UK holiday resorts might just get through this with a bad July and a massive August.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

He won 3 elections…in case you missed the news.
Yay….the upside of global pandemic. Blackpool over Mykonos.

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Three elections and by 2005 the electorate didn’t care about him. They were just waiting on someone electable to head up the Conservatives!

So you don’t care about Blackpool, just looking for something you thought would be a good attack line but had failed to pick up on good news!

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

He won 3 elections that is/was the test not your (or my) opinion.
Even after the Iraq debacle he won the GE2005.
Yes, pandemic is good news.

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

He won 35% of the vote yet people like you complain about leave “only” winning 52% of the vote!

Please read what I said earlier, I said “It’s an ill wind that doesn’t blow anyone any good”. Do you understand what that means?

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

I did not complain about the % of the Leave vote (feel free to quote me BTW).

David Bell
David Bell
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I didn’t say you, I said people like you who try to reject the referendum result! That’s people who see the world as pessimistic and look for the bleak picture of the UK while yearning for it to be removed.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  David Bell

Anybody who didn’t stop believing in the media 10 or 20 years ago has not been paying attention.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago

“They prefer stability over change. And they favour continuity over disruption and discontinuity.”

I find it hard to see how anyone who preferred stability and continuity to change and disruption would vote for the bunch of Tory Leninists currently in power.

“It is perhaps no coincidence that the two most visible outbursts of declinism in post-war British politics arrived in the early 1960s, after a decade of Conservative dominance.”

But this was the heyday of Butskellism, the one moment in British history when both our main parties were genuinely committed to the only kind of stability that really matters to most people: ensuring that everyone (or nearly everyone) had a job, a house, a pension and could settle down and raise a family. This was scarcely a period when the “Left-leaning educated classes” were pushed out of the mainstream and into the margins; rather, their assumptions and priorities had been largely accepted and assimilated by the Conservative Party of the day. Significantly, this consensus disintegrated as soon as the Left shifted its focus from economics to social issues.

“Many voters simply do not share this incredibly negative view of the world. They want to look forwards not back.”

Surely then they are not really interested in continuity and stability. People who value these things look back to the past with gratitude and hold to it as an anchor; they do not look forward to an uncertain future.

“Johnson is offering a positive and forward-looking creed that is more interested in national renewal and salvation than decline and repudiation.”

Which is really only a symptom of the disreputable Americanisation of British politics. How I yearn for a Prime Minister whose enthusiasms would be tempered by some hint of a tragic vision! And to think that Mr Johnson studied Classics at Oxford, yet seems unmarked by the lessons of Sophocles and Seneca. That seems to me a more fundamental indictment of the university system in this country than many of the problems which my fellow posters here complain about, often justly, on a regular basis.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

Unfortunately ‘Greats’ is taught through the miasma of Christianity, which rather inhibits real in depth study of Classical philosophy.

Even after a four year sojourn the PM, Boris Johnson KS, has much to learn about the Classical world, given his throwaway remarks on the subject.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Mr Johnson’s shallow optimistic worldview suggests he doesn’t understand Christianity either.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

Yes, your probably correct. Let’s hope he understands the ‘North of England’ and justifies the trust they placed in him.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

A very good post that makes many good points. It’s hard to disagree with any of it, and the point about the left shifting its focus from economic to social issues is very pertinent. But we live in a very different world now, and I’m not sure that any kind of Butskelite consensus is now possible.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

We do live in a very different world; we live in the world that the opponents of that Butskellite consensus (on both left and right) deliberately made. Of course you’re right that the current circumstances don’t lend themselves to that kind of consensual politics, and needless to say the postwar settlement had its own blind spots; but I can’t help feeling that we’re where we are because some powerful people made some strenuous efforts to get us here. And to the extent that we got here by taking a series of wrong turns, one might wish at least to consider turning round and retracing our steps.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It depends in Times of Economic slumber or Depression,Some Keynesian Policies are Still relevant Unfortunately the dopes in Lib-Lab-Cons-Green-Snp cannot see beyond the next 4-5 year electoral cycle..,They are obsessed with Scoring Twitter points than Paying heed to Party Grassroots ,No Logic just hype & Media hysteria no wonder Itv news,Ch4,BBC ,CNN are such turnoffs..

stephen17891789
stephen17891789
3 years ago

A first rate analysis. Most people want to have a stable and comfortable existence. They are not looking to be impressed into an alt right culture war directed by Mr Cummings. That is why I am optimistic that in the longer term that British people will see brexit radicalism as at best an embarrassment and will crave more stable governance. However I am pessimistic about the short and medium term. Eventually this country will have to make an accommodation with the EU at least in economic terms but I do not expect the present brexit jacobins to be able to do that. I would hope that a future Labour government could start to rebuild bridges. Or moderate conservative government. But I do not think one of those is likely for a very long time.
We need government that understands the fundamental economics of trade, that it is mostly local. And that Britain’s role as a great power has ended. It is a regional superpower and that is not such a bad thing to be.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

You have the temerity to castigate Howard Gleeve for his “illiterate ” use of capitals, then do the same yourself!

Above, line 13, Labour government, line below conservative government. Base hypocrite. Or were you perhaps trying to make a subtle, chippy point?

You should ask Oxford Brookes for your money back.

Chris Francis
Chris Francis
3 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

What an angry, patronising ‘know all’ you appear to be. Feel sorry for you. Are you one of those people that gets a kick out of nasty, condescending retorts. Pathetic

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Francis

You appear to be the angry one here. Did you not read Stephen T’s patronising response to Howard Gleeve’s post?

Stephen T, in a previous post was crass enough to describe himself as “Oxford educated and having a prosperous professional life”. Not only is that a clear breach of the adage “self praise is no recommendation”, but it offers a perfect opportunity to lampoon him, “sine missione”, does it not?

Give the vehemence of your response, and allowing for the fact you are an obvious shrieker, may I ask if there is any relationship with Stephen T? His catamite perhaps?

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago

“Most people want to have a stable and comfortable existence”. Correct people do indeed want that. However, being members of the EU this is what we have NOT had. We’ve had mass migrations and wages for the lower end reduced to rock bottom and our countryside concreted over to make way for housing for the millions of extra people that have arrived in just 10 years. The former Eastern bloc stripped of its working age populations. Smaller businesses are crushed under the weight of EU legislation.

When we see what the EU, or their flag-ship project, the Euro has done to ClubMed and how that crisis has been kicked down the road yet again just this last week it’s no small wonder people don’t like the EU. They have sound economic reasons for hating the EU.

Remainers don’t like Brexit because they were expecting to escape the throng and have their retirement in an idyllic French village and now it’s going to cost them more.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

sine 97 c.66% of all migrants are non EU Citizens.
UK is the most deregulated large economy in the world (respected international studies, not Leaver’s insane opinions).
Other EU countries (Northern EU protestant) seem to be dealing perfectly fine with the EU Red tape!
Could it be that UK SMEs are (brace yourself!) not very good at global competition. Hard to believe I know but could it be true?

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I suspect the irony of your ‘declinist’ rant is lost on you.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  J J

Stating facts is not declinist.

jet bright
jet bright
3 years ago

Oakeshott contrasted the politics of “scepticism”, not “pragmatism”, with those of “faith”.

This matters because the declinists are in almost no sense engaged in the politics of scepticism, simply a different politics of faith. They do not doubt, as the sceptic does, the ability of grand rationalist projects to transform society for the better. They’re just upset that their own projects of this type have been abandoned.

As Oakshott observed, in the post-war era the politics of scepticism is on the retreat, a tendency that has only accelerated since his time. Where sceptics can still be found, it is on both sides of the metropolitan-liberal/rest of country divide.

Anayo Unachukwu
Anayo Unachukwu
3 years ago

Matthew Goodwin, time and time again shows that he gets it. Same could hardly be said about several political pundits about the current political landscape.

He rightly identified Declinism and its very close cousin Culture of Repudiation, two preferred potent weapons of metropolitan elite, in framing their narrative about what they dislike about the country, in their never-ending circular logic that emboldens them to talk over everyone; they end up talking amongst themselves and nobody else.

Chris Francis
Chris Francis
3 years ago

Interesting to see people responding on here with ad hominem attacks on the ‘liberal, intellectual, left wingers’ making exactly the same sweeping generalisations that they accuse the left of making. The anger, self righteousness, and arrogance of knowing how the world works, when all on the left are wrong is hypocritical in the extreme.
The article epitomises this, cherry picking stats, developing stereotypes, feeding the usual narrative of academics and liberals being dangerously out of touch with ‘the real world and real people’. I read this forum to try and get a balanced and nuanced view of current affairs- this article is neither of those things. Once again we have ‘I’m right or you’re right, and if I’m right, you’re wrong. Total lack of critical thinking. I’m sure I’ll get the usual invective back for stating how poor this article is but when are people going to accept that world views are complex, usually grey, not always well informed, influenced by a myriad of experiences and articles like this should try not to fall into the classic trap of generalising, overstating and divisiveness.

Graham Evans
Graham Evans
3 years ago
Reply to  Chris Francis

Those on the right frequently complain about the left wing bias of our universities, but you don’t have to be left wing to disguise political propaganda as political analysis, as Goodwin has demonstrated.

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  Graham Evans

Goodwin is a Left Winger. Do your research

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Graham Evans

I too have detected a certain sympathy for the working class in Goodwin’s utterances.

gwenshannon1
gwenshannon1
3 years ago

So I am the only one that regrets defending him to family and the ensuing row. Or telling Americans he is not like Trump. I just wish he would listen to the real scientific evidence and understand the difference between epidemic and endemic for starters,

J J
J J
3 years ago
Reply to  gwenshannon1

If you had bothered to read the SAGE meeting minutes, you would be aware that the PM followed the scientific advice to the letter. It’s why the Left and Media have been unable to find the smoking gun they so desperately wanted.

If there is any criticism, it’s that the PM should not of so slavishly followed the advice of his medical science advisers. But that is a tall criticism to make in the midst of a national medical health emergency.

Stephen Follows
Stephen Follows
3 years ago

Which is why Starmer ‘taking the knee’ should be on the front cover of the next Conservative manifesto.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
3 years ago

What a brilliant idea. That will warm the hearts of Red Wall England like nothing else.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

An audio clip of Thornberry standing in the HoC equivocating on Russian involvement in the Skripal case would be almost as effective (especially given she will still be a ensconced in the Starmer shadow Cabinet when the election comes round).

T J Putnam
T J Putnam
3 years ago

And the Labour one!

Alex Wilkinson
Alex Wilkinson
3 years ago

The left is what it is. They can’t ‘change track’. To do that they would literally have to cross the floor and become Conservatives.

stephen17891789
stephen17891789
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Wilkinson

The “left” covers a huge spectrum of political philosophy, from communism and tyrannical socialism, through anarchism, democratic socialism and social democracy. Lumping all of that together as “The Left” is laughably ignorant and paranoid. It would be the equivalent of grouping together ‘one nation’ conservatism, economic liberalism, Thatcherism, nativism and fascism.

J J
J J
3 years ago

Alex’s point, I suspect, is that BJ has taken the centre ground. Perhaps even the centre left in terms of the economy. There is no where for the Left to go other than to deny being Left.

Martin Adams
Martin Adams
3 years ago

An excellent analysis of the present situation, and a lucid explanation of the British electorate’s response. I am especially struck by the validity of two terms used by Professor Goodwin ” the cultures of declinism and of repudiation. They are especially potent because they refer not only to perspectives rooted in the present, but also to long-term trends that go back to World War II or earlier.

It seems to me that this article also supports, by implication, an argument made elsewhere by me and many others, that a whole area of political inclination and thought is being evaded by the mainstream parties in this country. The Boris Johnson supporters identified by Prof. Goodwin reject the perspectives created by declinism and by the culture of repudiation. But they also show an inclination towards social conservatism that is not being served by the one party that might be expected to serve it ” the Conservative Party.

History shows that such conservatism can often, and effectively, be allied with liberal fiscal policies ” classic liberalism if you like. Mrs Thatcher moved the party in that direction, which is one of many reasons why Simon Heffer and several other political commentators and historians have said that she was more of a radical liberal than a conservative. After all, her most-admired Prime Minister was Gladstone.

So I find myself wondering whether a Conservative Party that developed socially conservative policies in an intellectually disciplined way ” rather than giving in to wet-and-woke crowd pleasing ” would have an endurance among the electorate that would comfortably outlast the presence of Boris Johnson.

Stensh-Brown
Stensh-Brown
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Adams

Biggest issue is Scotland, which is not dealt with in this post. But the Nats can be defeated as they are self-confessed “haters” – entirely negative. See this video number 57 (SNP Leaders) on YouTube channel “Ian Mitchell’s Book Recommendations”

Richard Slack
Richard Slack
3 years ago

What, actually, has Johnson won apart from the last election where he was able to frame it as the Brexit election. He has been fortunate to be handled incredibly lightly by the media, Laura Kuenssberg practically admitted that she felt it her duty not to expose the failings of the Government because it might affect public confidence. The General Election handled the Tories incredibly lightly compared to how they handled labour and why people seem to think it is dominated by lefties and liberals, in nearly 60 years of reading newspapers I have never seen such bias as we now have.

Johnson, of course, has no compunction of telling untruths even in Parliament and so long as the old convention remains of not calling someone a liar in Parliament he will do it with impunity, and, indeed shut down Parliament when it gets to difficult for him. He sprays around promises of world-beating thisses and thats with little intention or stamina to put the hard yards in to do them Unfortunately the English have a weakness for a toff.

Stensh-Brown
Stensh-Brown
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

I agree

alun Crockford
alun Crockford
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Slack

So what you are suggesting is that everyone who voted Conservative was not quite as clever as your good self ?

david bewick
david bewick
3 years ago

I’m afraid Starmer finds himself in a similar position in many ways to Neil Kinnock. He is following a very left wing leader in Jeremy Corbyn and a movement that is Momentum. Kinnock followed Michael Foot and the Militant Tendency. I would suggest Starmer’s front bench shows a paucity of talent that is even greater than Kinnock’s. He also has an 80 seat majority against him which historically has never been overturned after one parliament. Maybe the best Starmer can aim for is to position the Labour party for the 2029 election and accept he will never be prime minister himself. Perhaps one advantage Starmer has is that Kinnock came up against one of the great prime ministers in M Thatcher.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  david bewick

Kinnock also came up against Major. And look what happened there.

Graham Evans
Graham Evans
3 years ago

This is less political analysis than political polemics, which evidently excites most of those who have commented on the article.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago

Why did the most deprived areas of the country voted Leave? Does Blackpool, uniquely, understand the significance of the Lisbon Treaty and its impact on the uncodified British constitution?
Politics are tribal and Brexit has made them even more tribal; BoJo has locked in the support of Leavers. I have no doubt that many Leavers are genuine when they say they are willing to suffer to get Brexit done, but I also believe that “talk is cheap” is a cliché – because it is true.
Look at demographics, Old people are Tory/Leavers and Young people are Remain/Labor.
Tory’s won the battle but they are going to lose the war.
Since BoJO likes classics a Phyrric Victory!

Geoff Cox
Geoff Cox
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

But Jeremy, this point has been made for all my life. The thing you seem to have missed is that everyone gets older every day.

Graham Evans
Graham Evans
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

In fact educational achievement is as much linked to Remain and Leave as is age. University graduates are much more likely to have voted Remain, while those with few or no skills are much more likely to have voted Leave. However probably no more tan about 10% of these who are pensioners will have attended university whereas among the young the figure is much, much higher.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Graham Evans

That old trope that Remain voters are “better educated”. Total nonsense.

At one time only the better educated went to university. Since Blair every fool goes to university and they come out of Uni with huge debt and a degree in “gender studies” etc etc. Many modern university graduates can barely spell.

Graham Evans
Graham Evans
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

Clearly you won’t let the facts get in the way of your prejudices.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Graham Evans

The fact is only the very clever few went to Uni in the past. Now everyone goes and the level of education is very low.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

How did Oxford and Cambridge vote?
Or are we to assume that those 2 World Class Universities (as Leavers always remind us) have produced just fools?

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I have Oxbridge family and leave is the order of the day. But then being grown up probably didn’t suffer the onslaught of leftism that pervades all our universities these days.

David Barnett
David Barnett
3 years ago
Reply to  Graham Evans

It would be interesting to know how many very highly educated “leavers” there are (say with Ph.D. in physics, like me).

I suspect that the “remainers” form a unimodal distribution centred on moderate educational achievement, while leavers are bi-modal.

One mode is relatively uneducated but with an instinctual feeling that the EU is just wrong for the UK.

The other mode involves quite sophisticated reasoning able distinguish between unity and uniformity (the kind of reasoning that ended the 17th century wars of religion).

Amongst other things, I see the uniformity of the EU as an existential problem in uncertain times. If you look at the mass extinctions over the last 500 million years, it is the smaller organisms, and the clades with a lot of variety which have descendants leading to us. “Too-big-to-fail” is an existential problem.

My experience of highly educated “remainers” is that they can’t get their heads around arguments like the above, but are very good at rationalising their slogans.

Andrew Edgeworth
Andrew Edgeworth
3 years ago

I agree with this analysis. Look at unemployment. Just before Covid unemployment had declined to under 4%. Brilliantly low compared with previous decades. But just listen to the ‘declinist’ BBC. Comparatively slight job losses in sectors like aviation are greeted with almost gleeful doom mongering.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Never forget just how much the the British Broadcasting Corporation hates Britain. It is invariably the case that any organisation with the word ‘British’ in its title will have as its chief enemy the British people – British Rail, British Steel, British Leyland etc.

Robin Lambert
Robin Lambert
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Normally I dont Like Selloffs, but BBC can go to subscription Anytime soon is NOT soon enough.. I had to point out to many Green & Labour Candidates, in 2015,2017,2019 General elections ,EU state Aid rules Mean You Cannot renationalise Railways or Royal Mail..Starmer (A rejooiner) and Corbyn Couldn’t see this, Many issues We see Not properly analysed Control Freaks, love ”Climate Change” even when they are proved lies eg ”Hockey stick” missing out medieval Warm Centuries…I despair Where Scientific reasoning has Gone ?I n Favour of ”Fixed Data” Boris on SARS2 is just as guilty as Captain hindsight (Starmer,davey,sturgeon et al)

Graham Evans
Graham Evans
3 years ago

You mean the unemployment figures compared to when Thatcher was PM. Unemployment during the post war years when Butskellism characterised both the Conservative and Labour parties it averaged 3%. Under recent Conservative administrations it’s averaged 6%, and even in 2019 was still 3.9%.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Graham Evans

Which is why 6.2 million EU citizens have voted with their feet and come to the UK. To be unemployed?

Graham Evans
Graham Evans
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

Most of them have come because the UK was the only major economy to allow Eastern Europeans freedom of movement when their countries joined the EU. They came here simply because the UK offered better opportunities than remaining in countries whose economies had suffered 50 years of Russian dominated communism,and for most their second language will be English.

Incidentally unless there has been a big influx of EU nationals in recent years your figure of 6.2 million is way over the top. According to the ONS there were just under 3 million EU residents in the UK in 2014.The Migration Observatory of Oxford University estimated in 2018 that there were 3.6 million EU nationals living in the UK, including the children of EU nationals born here, and 330,000 Irish citizens.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

3m not 6.2M
plenty of high paying jobs in Germany/Austria…how come the heroic (!) Englishmen and women don’t seem to cut it in the EU labor market?

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

And yet the UK is still full of whingeng remain voters. Funny that.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Benjamin Jones

Someone has to pay taxes to keep the triple lock in place and welfare for Blackpool going on.

David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Who would want to live in Germany or Austria? Not me for one. Although I was once offered a well paid job in Germany which I turned down.

Country Hermit
Country Hermit
3 years ago

This column is very interesting and astute. But I find it hard to reconcile the description of voters who are both nostalgic and averse to change yet at the same time are forward-looking and voted for the biggest upheaval of many decades (Brexit).

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Country Hermit

Don’t bother.

T J Putnam
T J Putnam
3 years ago
Reply to  Country Hermit

Good point. Part of the answer is that many believe their life has changed for the worse over many years and were willing to take risks to recover something lost. So far Brexit beyond the shout hasn’t delivered the goods. That may change but Government is already moving the goalposts around in an effort to maintain support despite disappointing outcomes. However coronavirus has taught people how to watch the discrepancy between rhetoric and results……

Paddy Briggs
Paddy Briggs
3 years ago

“They prioritise the nation and the national community. They prefer stability over change. And they favour continuity over disruption and discontinuity. This is why they cherish Britain’s history, heritage and collective memory and are more sensitive to attempts to deconstruct them.”

This is brave but I’m afraid doomed attempt to give an intellectual substance to prejudice. That prejudice prefers its comfort zone to the challenge of considering new ways of doing things. To “prioritise the nation” is nationalism by any other name. Because it’s obverse is to have to denigrate other nations. The “English, The English, The English are best” poppycock so brilliantly mocked by Flanders and Swann 50 years ago. The “National community” extends this xenophobia to race and culture. That “community” is white and if it has a religion it’s Christian. What it certainly isn’t is brown and Islamic.

“Stability” actually is retrospective and nostalgic. The change (e.g. to a multiracial society) has already happened and the status quo is now this. The “national community” is diverse – not just from immigration but also from freedom of movement from the EU27. So the days of the continuity of the “White, Anglo-Saxon, first language English are in the distant past (1950s Britain.

“Disruption and discontinuity” is a further euphemism for the perceived threat of the culturally challenging. Race and nationality are at its heart. When the policemen, the doctors, the teachers and the rest of the service sector employees are more likely to go to the Mosque than the Church and the plumber is Polish that shakes up the status quo and is perceived as disruptive.

“Britain’s history, heritage and collective memory” is the reason to believe that it once was better. And as we say that we begin not to recognise our nation any more so we rerun the newsreels of the times when it was “better”. The spirit of the Blitz which hardly any alive today remember and the blue birds over the white cliffs of Dover. The poppy police around Remembrance Day are a modern phenomenon – we don’t just want to Virtue Signal our own patriotism with at least a fortnight of poppy wearing we want to condemn those who opt out.

Whether what Mr Goodwin identifies here are truly “values” I would strongly challenge. A prejudice is an uniformed attitude not a value and most of this is the narrowest form of prejudice. And you don’t have to have more than a passing understanding of 20th Century nationalism and the horrors that ensued from its dominance to want to avoid it ever happening again. But, as I say, the “value” of “prioritising the nation” is profoundly nationalistic.

In our binary world there is little room for nuance. The “Black Lives Matter” slogan is a pretty straightforward one but it won’t appeal to those who have the pseudo “values” Mr Goodwin identifies. And the problem is that real values are more complex, not binary and require a generosity of spirit and a social intelligence which Boris Johnson does not stand for. Those who vote for him even less.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Briggs

The organisation Black Lives Matter is committed to the destruction of capitalism, the nuclear family and all western values. They are also intent on starting a race war. This is because they are mostly, at this point, represented by young, middle class whites.

Paddy Briggs
Paddy Briggs
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I’m not talking about the organisation I’m talking about the slogan.

Steve Edwards
Steve Edwards
3 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Briggs

Paddy, you seem to be implying that (at least) the 10% of former Labour voters who turned Tory in 2019 were mean minded and stupid; have I got that right? Is it your view that Labour fell to the lowest number of votes since 1935 because the voters voted the wrong way? Are their views,experiences and opinions valuless? As I asked Fem, have you read PROFESSOR Goodwins’s book?

hijiki7777
hijiki7777
3 years ago

I find this an odd article. I agree with much of it. I see on social media the most appalling attitudes towards leave supporters from Remainers and I think the ability of the Tories to join up Leave supporters with traditional Tory supporters who support Remain means that they have a very powerful coalition of support that potentially can win many elections.
However the reason we “attack” Conservative right wingers is because we disagree with them. That is how politics is. I am sure in Canada where the Tories are also in a minority they are attacking the ruling Liberals because they disagree with them.
I appreciate that Goodwin takes a nuanced view of the “Declinists” – a term I have never come across before. There is a problem in that in politics you want to have a positive vision, but in reality there is a shift in economic power from west to east, and there is global warming – a problem not seriously being tackled and I wonder if it can be in a democracy (and I am not proposing any alternative to democracy). There is also Conservative declinism. We are not getting our empire back, we can’t run other people’s countries by regime change, abortion is not going to be banned and equal marriage is not going to be repealed. Johnson’s rowing back on opposing the “Nanny State” is somewhat remarkable. And as the UK breaks it’s links with the EU (and I accept the EU looks dangerously unstable at the moment) we find a hostile environment with Trump in the USA, China, Russia, India and Brazil all repudiating values we hold dear like human rights. Can we really “win” a trade war with China? I hope we can because I hate to see what is happening there, but they seem to have a stronger hand than we do.
There is the irony that I suspect most sensible Tories are hoping for the liberal Biden to win the US general election. If Trump wins then the trade deal if we get one might show us where we really are today.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  hijiki7777

I agree. Except that it is not Trump that is repudiating ‘values that we hold dear’. It is the American hard left who will do away with all those values if the Democrats win and are then controlled by AOC and Co, who are committed to what is, essentially, a hardline socialist programme.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Democrats will win because the people will vote them in power….hard to believe I know but remember they won the Midterm Elections in 2018 and Trump lost the popular vote by 3M.
AOC was challenged in the primary and she (terrifyingly) won by a mile.
The people voted for her, hard to believe I know but do give it a try.

Peter Frost
Peter Frost
3 years ago

It may be that Johnson still caries a large following. At the same time I doubt that many would defend his inept role as foreign Secretary where a British subject is now languishing in an Iranian gaol because he didn’t want to read his briefs on the situation before being 8nyervoewed by the media.

He has proved that he proves the Peter principle that everyone is promoted to their highest level of incompetence. His action. Of shaking everybodo3s hand in a Covid ward confirmed the same as PM.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Peter Frost

Boris’ statement on Mrs Nazhari Ratclifffe (apologies if I’ve spelled that incorrectly) was indeed rash and unprepared. But it it the fault of the Iranians that she is in an Iranian jail, not Britain’s, and not Boris’. Moreover, if you go to places like Iran having been at one time a journalist and/or worked for the BBC (which I believe to be the case here) then you know that you are likely to be detained. Most sensible people don’t go anywhere near these places and they have little sympathy for those that do. As such, this is a matter of zero consequence to 99.999999% of the electorate.

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

She did go to Iran, on an Iranian passport, to visit her family. It doesn’t seem especially unreasonable to think that one might take even quite serious risks to visit one’s mother.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Boris also claimed that he had a plan for Home/Elderly Care in front of Downing Street (after winning the election in 2019). The fact is that THERE WAS NO PLAN! So was that a rash answer or a lie?

Peter Frost
Peter Frost
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

But he still failed in his duty. The foreign secretary has two jobs, to enhance UK interests abroad and to protect UK nationals abroad. He did not do so. Never mind whether the individual has made mistakes. Unless it is beyond all doubt that the individual has broken the law the FC should do his job and read the facts before he speaks.

Chinese Bear
Chinese Bear
3 years ago

There’s a lot to think about in this article but I find some of the assumptions simplistic. For example, I can fully understand why the Brexit vote happened, although I did not at the time think that it was the best solution to the justified grievances of many British voters. I can also understand and respect the reasons why many voters deserted Labour for the Tories last year, but I do not think that Boris Johnson is the best leader or the ‘answer’ to their problems.
And, while I respect the Brexit vote, I still oppose the idea of hard Brexit. Given that the result was close, it would be better to compromise and accept a Norwegian or Swiss-style relationship with the EU. Hard Brexit/’No Deal’ is polarising opinion and creating tensions within the Union because Scotland voted strongly against Brexit. There was an excellent report on the ‘Norway option’ by Robert Halfon (Con.) and Lucy Powell (Lab.) last year that set out a blueprint for positive compromise.
The article also ignores age, which overrides class in both 2016 and 2019. Many younger working class voters chose Remain in 2016 and in 2019 the Conservatives were propelled to power by older voters, with the young and early middle aged opting for other parties. There is also (in the article) a monolithic view of London and ‘the provinces’. There are large numbers of white working class people in the capital (some Brexiteers, some not). Some of the poorest areas of the UK are in the capital. Equally, there are many affluent enclaves in the North of England and many critics of the hard variety of Brexit.
It is worth noting that Rishi Sunak is ahead of both Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer in polls for favoured Prime Minister-designate. This suggests that (whether Sunak will provide this or not – I can’t yet tell) there is strong support for a more consensual and less confrontational brand of Conservatism.

D Glover
D Glover
3 years ago
Reply to  Chinese Bear

I think Sunak is popular because every time he appears he has a wheelbarrow full of money and he smiles while throwing it all at us.
Will he be popular when austerity and spending cuts and tax rises are all he can give?

Chinese Bear
Chinese Bear
3 years ago
Reply to  D Glover

You could well be right; I doubt his online sales tax will be popular with some of the ‘new’ Tory demographics. I mentioned him because I think that a lot of wishes are projected onto him at the moment – I am keeping an open mind about whether he will or can fulfil them. The main wish I think is for a more consensual approach to government, an end to the current extreme adversarial stance and perhaps above all a truce in the ‘culture wars’, which as well as being destructive and toxic are also mind-numbingly boring!

Bromley Man
Bromley Man
3 years ago

‘Objective reality’ charts an inevitability of UK’s decline vis-a-vis other world powers over the last hundred years. This makes possible a politics of declinism, sometimes called populism. So, the question you have to ask yourself, is whether BJ is going to halt it, or accelerate it.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Bromley Man

BJ’s optimism will turn Blackpool into a competitor to St. Tropez.

Lucy Smex
Lucy Smex
3 years ago
Reply to  Bromley Man

The latter.
The only upside is that the rest of the Western world are joining us, so it’ll be less obvious.

Kieran Garland
Kieran Garland
3 years ago

This is not about the Tories, it’s about Johnson. I’m a cleaner and I can tell you better why people don’t like Johnson. It’s for exactly the same reason that most people here do like him – it’s because he’s a bully.

The author talks about elites – Johnson’s the walking embodiment of one. And the best description of elites that I know is: people who seek to dominate and humiliate others. That’s it. That’s the depth of them. Why’s that relevant?

Remember, Johnson once organised to have a journalist physically beaten. That’s not a smear. >> There’s a tape recording of him planning it <<. And in it, he doesn’t consider the chance of the attack, even accidentally, turning fatal or crippling, and only looks to keep everything secret. Why? Because – spoiler, chaps – he doesn’t give a monkeys about other people. Johnson’s not a mystery.

Now I can’t know, but I’m guessing most people on here knew this about him, yet they chose to ignore it. Fine. But it’s not because of imagination, or pride, or positivity, or whatever other guff was suggested. It’s because they don’t mind having a bully on their side. That’s all. It’s no more complicated than that and there doesn’t need some fawning think-piece for people to hide behind.

Only the bit that’s hidden from the writer is the converse – the fact that other people don’t like it. It’s not that they’re remainers, or negative, or what, ‘declinists’?! Honestly. Cry me a river. It’s that they don’t much like thugs. They don’t trust them, they don’t see gangsterish behaviour as something to admire, or encourage, and they wouldn’t want loved ones to, either. They don’t really trust people who do like them, and they see bullies as both sinister and more or less parasitic on the people around them.

So please, stop thrashing about looking for an ostentatious defence as to why people don’t like Johnson, even if you still do. It’s because he likes throwing his weight about and he’s on your side. It’s because he’s bully. That’s it. And we’ll be at the very least wary of him until he’s out.

T J Putnam
T J Putnam
3 years ago
Reply to  Kieran Garland

So true and so well said.

Kieran Garland
Kieran Garland
3 years ago

Johnson is an ordinary bully. He once quite casually organised for a >> journalist to be physically beaten <<, without any regard to how that may have escalated to something either debilitating or fatal for the intended victim.

Johnson’s appeal is not a mystery. Lots of people like bullies. The author’s efforts to explain away the lack of Johnson’s more general appeal need not be so contorted, and nor is there required so many other fantastical, psychological sub-plots. A great many people simply like bullies, especially when they’re on their side. But the author plainly misses that a great many others, whether the bully is on their side or not, simply don’t like them. And that is really all there is to it.

Nor do they trust them, nor seek to encourage them. And this frankly somewhat fawning think-piece fails to engage with the other, more obvious possible motivations for opposition to Johnson beyond a ‘lack of imagination’, or lack of some kind of positive mental attitude.

The much starker fact remains: that a great many, all across the political divide, flatly abhor gangsterish behaviour of the Johnsonian kind, however else it is often expressed, and are deeply distrustful of those who aren’t. They also don’t really see why it is that such bullies should be rewarded with the highest of public offices, or why they should be trusted even when they achieve, albeit democratically, such honoured positions.

Elites, as Machiavelli warned, seek only to dominate and humiliate others. Johnson is an elite, and he is your man. But the rest of us will remain, at the very least, wary of him until he departs his post, and in the interim there’s frankly nothing that will reasonably temper that impulse.

T J Putnam
T J Putnam
3 years ago

That’s the dream, anyway, and some of the comments here show there are willing dreamers about. Prof Goodwin doesn’t discuss the engagement of dream with various so called realities because he stands apart from that negative thinking said to characterise those who disparage Britain. Not a good sign though that he has a lot more to say about these nay sayers than he does about the dream or the dreamers.
We should take dreaming seriously especially when as now most people feel change is needed to improve or even maintain their life circumstances. The understanding of what kinds of change could prove beneficial is bound to lag some way behind the sense a new direction is needed.
Many people have lent Boris &Co their hopes but that doesn’t mean they are mere passengers on his dream boat, as he would like to assume. Prof Goodwin overlooks the evidence of increasing public circumspection: engagement and reflection which has been accelerated by the virus. This is bound to increase when more consequences of the Brexit chosen by Government are encountered.
Since March the tide has been running out and they must be aware of this in the No 10 Bridge, judging by the frequency with which they take soundings and adjust their course. They must also be aware of some rocks in the mist which can be seen clearly from shore, as there’s less and less progress in the water despite increasingly desperate attempts to find a course that will keep some wind in their sails..
People are becoming used to the pattern of bold announcements from the foretop soon to be qualified and partly countermanded, with little effect other than sapping confidence. The weight loss campaign is particularly becalmed and replete with metaphorical risk. On the Continent some are already mocking that Boris must be an expert in weight loss because he has already caused Britain to lose a lot of its economic, political and cultural weight in the world.

Steve J
Steve J
3 years ago

Interesting article. I must admit that I really don’t understand Boris Johnson’s popularity. I see him as a charismatic bullshitter who is out of his depth as PM. He agreed an awful withdrawal agreement with the EU (it’s better than May’s, but that isn’t saying much) and he has completely mishandled the covid-19 pandemic.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Steve J

People that voted for him (and Brexit) believe in the Politics of Faith. And faith is inherently irrational.

Tim Rowe
Tim Rowe
3 years ago

Anyone who is not within the twittersphere had an inkling that the Brexit vote would win and that Boris would win the election, primarily because they speak to and discuss with real people and not echo chambers for their own views. Corby received many times more ‘likes’ to his tweets than Johnson did and look what happened. The problem we have is to undo the much of the liberal left education, civil service and higher academic systems. Until that happens, and it will be a long process, there will be constant battle. Of course given a few years of Brexit and that will become the status quo and all the young people who grow up during that period will see that as the norm and the majority will be comfortable with that status and vote accordingly. This is why the liberal left establishment have fought so hard to attempt an overturning of the Brexit Vote.

graham68
graham68
3 years ago

Johnson isn’t winning. He is behind Starmer in every poll. The only reason why the Conservatives are ahead of Labour is because Corbyn made Labour toxic, and his sycophants refuse to move on.

stephen17891789
stephen17891789
3 years ago

Actually Johnson’s approval ratings are slipping. According to YouGov Johnson scores 40% approval whereas Starmer scores 47%. Johnson certainly benefited from having a Bennite clown as the opposition leader but those days are now gone.

Benjamin Jones
Benjamin Jones
3 years ago

Ah, the polls. Lol.

David Waring
David Waring
3 years ago

Lifting ones eyes across the pond to the USA I am struck by the fermented outrage resulting in riots in Seattle and the Wall Street Journal piece by Daniel Henninger on the unrest titled “Progressives to Cities: Drop Dead” I leave it to liberals to savour the final sentence of the piece.
Once again I note the parallel developments between the US and the EU.

Richard Turpin
Richard Turpin
3 years ago

The education mandate needs to be confronted head on, the policy makers and curriculum advisors are all part of the identity politics cancer that has become the key protagonist in their efforts to subvert the young and indoctrinate at will. I am appalled at the length powerful educated liberals will go to unbalance the young, encourage apologist and divisive rhetoric in the name of equality and continue to view education as a key political harvest of which they are the only people allowed to sow.

I actually believe the media and left leaning educators have never ever had as much power or greater opportunity to corrupt, misinform, divide and separate the population as ever before.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Turpin

So your education policy is education not indoctrination?

Richard Turpin
Richard Turpin
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

My education policy is one that isn’t driven by political identity and rhetoric.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Turpin

That is your interpretation.

Richard Turpin
Richard Turpin
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

As is yours.

Eugene Norman
Eugene Norman
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

It’s already indoctrination.