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Twilight of the centrist dads A lazy new book unwittingly reveals the flaws of the Britpop generation

He probably thinks Amber Rudd should be PM. Credit: Barry Lewis/In Pictures via Getty

He probably thinks Amber Rudd should be PM. Credit: Barry Lewis/In Pictures via Getty


April 1, 2021   5 mins

Matthew d’Ancona’s generation was born around the late sixties and early seventies. They never solved the problems they inherited, and created a host of new ones all on their own.

They treated serious things with irreverence, and irrelevant things with seriousness. They were slavish to America, ignored China and took Europe for granted. Many of them backed the Iraq War and don’t understand why that means they can never be trusted with anything important ever again.

This is a generation that hid, or squandered what intelligence it had. They believed in win-wins and public private partnerships, or giving each others’ talentless children plum jobs. Publicly concerned — no, obsessed — with equality, they presided over a society that became as unequal as the one Horace Walpole lived in. Incredibly, they oversaw a decline in the average life expectancy for the first time in 110 years. They never built enough houses. They thought Will Self was a novelist, and Amber Rudd a future Prime Minister. They answered every policy question with the word “education”, so now our cities overflow with miserable PhD-holding baristas.

Their greatest achievement? Maybe Britpop, or the London 2012 Olympics Opening Ceremony, which are both ways of saying they don’t have one. Their lowest moment? The great triggering year of 2016 — which is when they collectively lost their minds. Ever since, these centrist Dads and Mums have faced their cultural twilight and political downfall with whatever the opposite of bravery is.

d’Ancona, whose book Identity Ignorance Innovation came out recently, is a flawless minor representative of this generation, and the age they lived in. He edited the Spectator and wrote columns about Westminster for the Sunday Telegraph. Like so many of his peers, he was a cultural populist, a believer in high-low relativity who never connected the culture of the nation with the court politics he obsessed over. He thought Brexit the “idiot option”.

So, of course, Brexit happened.

Then, from a new seat at the Guardian, d’Ancona dreamed his hideous dreams of post-Brexit Britain. We were duped. We were becoming a country in the mould of Philip Larkin: wintry, hopelessly nostalgic, ferociously bigoted, and alone — “an absurd and horrible vision”. He was finally finding his conscience as a peddler of big ideas, not backstage tittle-tattle. With Post-Truth: The New War on Truth and How to Fight Back, d’Ancona successfully landed his vault into the world of sub-TED, high-altitude musing. Post-Truth was one of three books with the same title published in 2017. Each asked how 17 million fools could be so easily hoodwinked by a slogan on the side of a bus. The big idea in all of them was that politicians lie.

Identity Ignorance Innovation is more of the same from d’Ancona. Quite literally: there are whole anecdotes and phrases of the “Ignorance” and “Innovation” chapters that are hard to distinguish from sections of Post Truth. Sometimes, as with sections on racial injustice in Britain or how to make 20-somethings more employable, d’Ancona does a seal roll onto his side and burps his ideas out as bullet points, like a harried junior writing a summary for an executive, not a professional journalist writing non-fiction that retails for a mighty ÂŁ20.

Like many writers of his generation, he views his ideas as “fiercely contemporary”. The self-image is that of the truth-teller: the bold intellect riskily crossing the lonely and treacherous frontiers of modern thought. “Countercultural” is the word he repeatedly uses, as if the ideas between the covers of Identity Ignorance Innovation are dangerous, or provocative, or fresh.

What are these ideas? It is hard to say in the sections on “Ignorance” and “Innovation”. The former is a lament about education, and how stupid grade-chasing has made the under-30s. They are “brilliant but ignorant”. Their potential intelligence has been crushed by “the deranged pressures of the digital microsecond” — the what now? Is it bold to think that the young are scandalously dense? No, it’s de rigueur, not just for d’Ancona and his generation, but every one since the Pyramids were built.

Is there a big idea then? Well, d’Ancona argues that liberals should view identity politics as an “entirely constructive adrenaline shot to the body politic”. Despite apologetically declaring himself a “one man privilege carnival”, he wants to grapple with race, cancel culture, Trans rights, statue-toppling and all the other deathless culture wars issues that vex our banana kingdom.

He thinks that these are trip-wire subjects that nobody else will touch and regrets that other commentators have “in the interests of a quiet life
 crept away from this particular field of inquiry”. Have they? Has Matthew Parris shied away from writing about these issues? Has Janice Turner? Has Trevor Philips? That’s just a few columnists at The Times. Even people who have only picked up a pen by accident in the last 12 months have probably fired off a thousand word think-piece about J.K. Rowling. It is practically a beloved national pastime for us to argue about these things at this point, like making jokes about Charles assassinating Diana, or letting Michael Portillo make his television shows about train lines in the Balkans.

Identity politics is, d’Ancona thinks, at “an important and exciting moment in its development”. The rise of movements that place racial, religious and sexual identity at their core has encouraged “a little more humility and restraint”. Well, I read Identity Ignorance Innovation in the week when a group forced a teacher into hiding, and within a few days of David Lammy being told that he was not English by a call-in guest on his radio show. Both incidents were examples of where identity politics is taking us, and will continue to take us, if it is not challenged. Exciting moments indeed!

On behalf of no one in particular, except liberal-ish centrist Dads who he flies a flag for, d’Ancona wants to make an offer to the youngsters who will not “tolerate the quiet bigotries of the past”. Look to America — bastion of racial decency and good practice — and see what we could build as allies together. Affirmative action can be used to nudge cultural norms towards “benign outcomes” on racial issues. If that doesn’t end injustice, d’Ancona assures his younger readers, “stronger medicine” can be taken.

In return for affirmative action (we have to hope that, unlike America, these policies do not summon a splenetic white identity politics into being) d’Ancona would like Gen Z to let him undertake the modernisation projects he has been banging on about since the 1990s. An “overhaul” of parliamentary procedure; “a new second chamber”; “real power to metro mayors”; “a fully codified constitution”.

But these are the reforms of an old Westminster “moderniser”, not somebody who cares about young people. Will overhauled parliamentary procedure or petty tyrant metro mayors build ambitious, beautiful garden suburbs, where the young can live good, decent lives around our major cities? No.

I suspect the last time the young looked this scary was the late 1970s. And the Britpop generation, whether it is d’Ancona or Will Self, Rachel Johnson or Ian Hislop, are getting on a bit. They are approaching the same age Harold Macmillan was when Peter Cook began doing his humiliating impression of the Prime Minister. Nobody has really come after them, but all the material is there: Pooterish social climbing, Partridge-level crap ideas, Fawlty-like exasperation amid a changing world.

Ridiculously, they still carry on like they are hated by an establishment full of port-soaked aristocrats and Thatcherites who want Nelson Mandela to stay in prison. Wrong: all those reactionaries died a long time ago; they are the establishment and have been for decades. They will have their Macmillan moment.

Ultimately, of all the vague and uninspiring proposals in Identity Ignorance Innovation, it is that last one — the codified constitution — that is the funniest. Imagine the d’Ancona constitution being chiselled into stone tablets and hung around the land. His generation’s prejudices would be made into law, to bedevil the British for centuries to come.

It was bad enough to be their children. At least when their grandchildren write the histories of the Britpoppers, they may have enough distance to treat them with the fairness they scarcely deserve.


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Toby Bray
Toby Bray
3 years ago

Not sure about the generational stuff, but this is an entertaining evisceration of d’Ancona’s pomposity. Thanks!

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Toby Bray

These people all had parents who created them and I was in an almost unique position to watch their creation. My father was the youngest of a large family ( 4 to a bed end to end , no electricity or gas- they used candles , communal water supply and privies ) whose mother dies when he was ten. He had won a scholarship to grammar school but instead finished elementary school and became a miner at aged 12. 28 years later with help of evening classes and training college he became a college lecturer when I was 10. The majority of the lecturers were from middle to upper middle class, very to the left politically but very to the right spending -wise, doing up old houses to their former glory , buying holiday homes , purchasing every mod-con. Their children were mostly brought up by au-pairs or anyone really ( such as myself)-so think The History Man-some of them only saw their parents at photo-ops such as demos & this lot are now in charge.

Brendan O'Leary
Brendan O'Leary
3 years ago
Reply to  kathleen carr

Sadly, that’s not so unique.

Lee Johnson
Lee Johnson
3 years ago
Reply to  Toby Bray

I may be wrong, but I think Will Lloyd was referring to the Britpop generation of people in power and not to the entire generation.
Looked at that way it sounds right to me

Paddy Taylor
Paddy Taylor
3 years ago

Forgive the ad homs but Matthew D’Ancona is a chap I can’t abide. He very nearly ruined the Spectator, seemingly determined to turn it into a limp, lib-dem coffee-table lifestyle magazine. The Guardian is welcome to him.
He’s forever moralising yet is happy to give those on his side of the aisle a completely free pass. Always striking poses and claiming to be taking a principled stand against whatever his sanctimony is aimed at that day.
To lay claim to a principle and then apply that principle inconsistently is – I would suggest – the very definition of hypocrisy.
D’Ancona clearly has some deep personal animus with Boris Johnson that clouds any sense of objectivity as a journalist – perhaps because the PM was the preceding (and far more popular) editor of the Spectator.
When Boris was in trouble over the Burqa row – in that he made fun of it as a silly garment WHILST DEFENDING THE RIGHT OF WOMEN TO WEAR IT – D’Ancona leapt in with both feet to denounce him, writing, “Johnson’s burqa row is more important and dangerous than Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech”. Which, if I’m not much mistaken, was the most stupid and hyperbolic thing to appear in the Guardian that year – and that is a very tight and competitive field!

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Paddy Taylor

Yes. I have read and supported the Spectator through seven editors now. D’Ancona was by far the worst. I could never understand why he was appointed.

D Ward
D Ward
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I think D’Ancona is losing/has lost the plot, myself

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I finally ditched my sub in February this year. There is not much intellectual blue water between Spectator writers and New Statesmen writers in 2021.

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago

So you didn’t like his book then? Fair enough, but don’t lump the rest of us who were born in the early 70s with those guardianista types. I feel no more affinity with d’ancona than I do with Billy eilish

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Billy who?

mattpope145
mattpope145
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

She’s great and I’m saying that as a white 26 year old male thanks

Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

She’s the kiddies version of Kate Bush, only more whiney.

Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

Spot on. I have nothing in common with d’Ancona apart from being born in the early 1970s.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Lovely stuff! I could never understand why d’Ancona was editor of The Spectator and fortunately he wasn’t there for very long. His natural home is the Guardian/New Statesman and, I suppose, writing nonsense books like the one referred to here. This assumes that the book it isn’t an April Fool and with that title it certainly could be.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Apologies for the repeat post, but both were ‘Awaiting for moderation’, for whatever reason.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Awaiting Moderation because you are a borderline ‘Wrong Thinker’

But d’Acona is obviously some sort of Major/Colonel in the Lemming Army who march by the rules of their book, ‘The Guardian’. Unfourtnately they lead from the rear though.

Alex Mitchell
Alex Mitchell
3 years ago

Not quite sure how you can rail against identity politics and then throw everyone in a single generation into the same bucket to criticise.

Dave Weeden
Dave Weeden
3 years ago
Reply to  Alex Mitchell

I almost gave up because of the generation stuff. I’m really not sure how it caught on. I’m sure history will indentify certain trends which were loud and clear at the end of the twentieth century and which dropped from fashion, but birth year has little to do with it.
I only persisted because Mr Lloyd’s piece on Virginia Woolf had been entertaining, and the demolition of the pompous D’Ancona turned out to be too.
If he drops the generalisations, including those advertisers use (where the generation thing may have some point), Will Lloyd has a pretty bright future.

Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago
Reply to  Dave Weeden

I think the generational war what lefty types (who I don’t lump in with traditional labour voting types) worked up after they realised with Thatcher and Blair they had lost the class war.
The BLM/Race divisions and the climate change thing are other areas worked up by lefty types to try and find new excuses for bossing everyone about while pretending they aren’t.
Jorunalism’s own little dark secret is nepotism…much of the media (and extended media solar system of fashion, politics and general celebdom) makes the Hapsburg monarchies look like like diversity welcoming meritocracies.

I think it’s why so much journalism especially in established organisations is so often so poor…it’s all relative….

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
3 years ago

This article didn’t really live up to its promise. As someone born in 1971, I wanted to find out what problems I’d inherited/created,’but alas it just seems a bit garbled and prolix. I hate Britpop, and Hislop was born in 1960 according to Wikipedia. He’s also I think a big Mahler fan. Maybe the piece should have been titled ‘Why I hate Matthew D’Ancona’ instead?

Jake C
Jake C
3 years ago
Reply to  Jeff Butcher

Housing crisis, iraq war,lop sided economy towards FIRE sector and south east,

Chris Mbosi
Chris Mbosi
3 years ago

Brilliant piece, hilarious take-down of the new (but actually quite old) establishment. Unherd is fast becoming the best opinion mag on the internet.

Simon Newman
Simon Newman
3 years ago

Matthew D’Ancona certainly deserves every criticism one could ever dream up, but I think it’s a bit unfair to tar the whole of early-Gen-X as being like him!

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Newman

Exactly, an article of two halves. The generation stuff is ridiculously generalised nonsense (I may be biased being born in the late 60s myself), where a small and privileged group is supposedly typical of an entire generations. Of all the stupidities of identity politics, the generational is the stupidest (although I do accept it is a useful shorthand that I have hypocritically used myself). The description of D’Ancona who is a complete bellend is spot on though. Also, I never really understood what centrist dad was except that those so described or who used the term for themselves were just awful.

Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
3 years ago
Reply to  Derek M

As long as you accept that inter-generational sledging is just a cultural artefact and in no way scientific or meaningful, it’s actually quite fun.

Sean Meister
Sean Meister
3 years ago

Whilst I agree with everything about the Britpoppers I find it funny that Lloyd seems to think it’s Affirmative Action that has caused the rise of white identity politics in the US. It definitely wasn’t the decades of Neo-Liberal order that decries and humiliates anything White yet protects and covets anything non-White. Affirmative Action is just another policy in a long line of these humiliations.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago

Look to America — bastion of racial decency and good practice…

Oh dear…

https://www.zerohedge.com/political/two-teenage-girls-carjack-and-kill-uber-driver-cnn-calls-it-accident

Last edited 3 years ago by Nigel Clarke
Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

Yes, I’ve seen the footage of that on a few podcasts over the last two days. Truly horrific. The girls were aged 13 and 15 I believe. But they are black, so it can’t have been a crime.

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Yeah it actually really upset me, a lot more than many of the recent images of violence. Just not sure why this is different.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Like the two teenagers who burnt an apparently inoffensive middle age white man to death in his own apartment in upstate NY or the Syrian who shot a number of people dead in Colorado. It doesn’t suit the media narrative so it’s little reported, same as in this country. Or maybe it’s just that white people or Christians are less likely to riot than black people or Muslims

Wilfred Davis
Wilfred Davis
3 years ago
Reply to  Nigel Clarke

‘Look to America — bastion of racial decency and good practice
’

I assumed that was heavy irony on the author’s part. Did I misread?

Arnold Grutt
Arnold Grutt
3 years ago
Reply to  Wilfred Davis

No.

tony deakin
tony deakin
3 years ago

Thought d’Ancona’s musings on post-truth were worth hearing out but he does seem to conform to a particular Guardian type that have a high regard for their own policy prescriptions (see also Will Hutton, esp. in relation to the EU).
(PS Liked the title of the piece, though I can’t get my head around the idea of Ian Hislop as a Britpopper – I have no recollection of him appearing on Top Of The Pops circa 1995 doing material derivative of XTC/Wire/Roxy.)

Last edited 3 years ago by tony deakin
Mike Boosh
Mike Boosh
3 years ago
Reply to  tony deakin

TBF, I think Hislop played keyboards in Shed 7 for a short time in the early 90s

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Mike Boosh

No, you’re confusing Hislop with Ed Davey. Hislop played bass with Bogshed in the mid-80s.

tony deakin
tony deakin
3 years ago
Reply to  tony deakin

Turns out Rachel Johnson had a Tapes & Treatments role a la Eno in Sleeper. She also contributed to Oblique Strategies in the form of adding a card that states the following:
‘RE the most vexing creative impasses – it is permissible to milk one’s own background – education, family connections, etc. – in order to attain a satisfactory outcome.’

Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
3 years ago
Reply to  tony deakin

God, I miss XTC …

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago

“They will have their Macmillan moment.” I don’t think they’ll preside over a record expansion in affordable housing, nor a sustained period of low unemployment and high economic growth.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago

Ah those halcyon days! But there was a slight downside.

In 1960 when a ‘working man’ might earn £10 a week if he was lucky, transport costs were very high.
A single from Paddington to Oxford was about 19 shillings ( just under a Pound for younger readers) and 37 shillings, Paddington to Bristol!

‘We’ also manage to kill about 7,000 on the roads, no speed limit seat belts or breathalyser. Happy days indeed, but somewhat short.

‘

Basil Chamberlain
Basil Chamberlain
3 years ago

That’s an interesting statistic and slightly surprises me (the high train fares, I mean, not the road casualty stats which don’t surprise me at all!).

Simon Baseley
Simon Baseley
3 years ago

The roads were very dangerous places. In 1967 it became a requirement that all new cars be fitted with seat belts, but it would be another 16 years before the law required people to actually put them on. In 1967, 7319 people were killed either in or by a motor vehicle compared to 1710 in 2019. There were 18 million cars on the nation’s roads then compared to 31 million now. Many cars were clearly not fit for purpose. The MOT test, introduced in 1960 originally only required vehicles more than 10 years old to be checked, but so staggering was the failure rate in that first year, that within twelve months the requirement was changed to include vehicles seven years old or older.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Baseley

Yes agreed, but great fun to drive on, in a MG TC, over the Hog’s Back, at night in the rain at 80 mph!

Last edited 3 years ago by Charles Stanhope
Ted Ditchburn
Ted Ditchburn
3 years ago

Not so great when it coughed, spluttered and then rolled to a halt though? 🙂 Cars are a lot better now…though when we look back on these things I think the general term for seatbelt introduction, drink driving laws, and all that stuff is ‘progress’.
.In race relations or attitudes to women the idea of ‘progress’ seems to have been delegitimised,
I had a bloke having a pop at me for stealing his future and at one point he said he had to face a jobs market post-covid the like of which we haven’t seen since the 1980s…when …er…the supposedly favoured generation was out there trying to find, or keep, a job….?
It’s the same with borrowing for homes, apparently the government can go crackers because *interest rates are at historic lows*. Not in the 1980’s they weren’t.
I am not flipping the coin to do down young people today, but they do need to give there heads a wobble sometimes and stop blaming everyone and anyone just because Papa d’Ancona or AC Grayling tells them they’ve never had it so bad, because the country didn’t vote the way they wanted getting on for 5 years ago now..

alanschenk
alanschenk
3 years ago

”and within a few days of David Lammy being told that he was not English by a call-in guest on his radio show. Both incidents were examples of where identity politics is taking us, and will continue to take us, if it is not challenged.”
And the issue is? Appears to me the writer is channelling his inner d’Ancona. Since when is someone of African descent also ethnically English < https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/English_people >? Lammy may well be British in the political sense of the word, but when you begin to assimilate someone else’s identity, what pray tell do native English have left, or would you rather the whole concept of ethnically English disappear (the census has already achieved this) but ensure for example that Afro-Caribbean identity continue on?
Who do you think built this country in the last 1500 years or so, Celts, Anglo-Saxons (English), Normans and who else? Whose cultural, historical, social, legal and parliamentary legacy do newcomers think they are culturally appropriating when they come to the UK? I have no issue with people calling themselves British, but it is clearly a fallacy for anyone not ethnically English to call themselves such. Do ethnic minorities living in Japan identify themselves as ethnically Japanese? Do white South Africans identify as Zulu? Can I move to China and identify as Han Chinese? The answer is obvious, but apparently not in Europe where assimilation is the order of the day and so as not to offend, the ethnic majority of this country have to give away their ancestry and identity for what, social cohesion?

Last edited 3 years ago by alanschenk
David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  alanschenk

Well said!

Joffre Woods
Joffre Woods
3 years ago

Oi. You describe the Nobs. Those of us geezers that were actually on the front lines are too fried to write books.

Diane Duggan
Diane Duggan
3 years ago
Reply to  Joffre Woods

Ha ha ha.

Hilary Arundale
Hilary Arundale
3 years ago

Phew! Thanks for taking some of the heat off us boomers. Down with gen x centrist dads, all guns on deck! Fire!

Jeff Butcher
Jeff Butcher
3 years ago

He he

Joerg Beringer
Joerg Beringer
3 years ago

Self-righteous Millennial/Z bashes the Xers and ignores that self-righteous Boomers were really in charge.
Plus ça change….
For some substance, read The 4th Turning.
As a side benefit, you’ll also learn that the disastrous and first time ever Covid responses are due to Boomers and Millennials/Z self-righteous idealism.
Millennials/Zs are the poorest equipped generation ever to fix the 4th turning’s crisis though- they’ll just preside over and ensure our downfall.

Scott Carson
Scott Carson
3 years ago
Reply to  Joerg Beringer

“Millennials/Zs are the poorest equipped generation ever to fix the 4th turning’s crisis though- they’ll just preside over and ensure our downfall.”

Social media will help them to be far more eloquent in explaining why it was all someone else’s fault. But they’ll probably spend more time agonising over what gender they are than addressing population growth and climate change.

Peter Scott
Peter Scott
3 years ago

Perfect. Wonderful.
Has exactly the right tone; absolute scorn, the only mode which can correctly designate such members of today’s privileged worthless ‘meritocracy’.

Last edited 3 years ago by Peter Scott
Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 years ago

Pedantic but it shows how the people who are actually at the extremes like to think they are at the centre. The centre of the Brexit debate were those people who had mixed views, typically opposed to the federalising creep of the EU but concerned about the economic consequences from leaving. Because they shared the views of either side to an extent, Brexit centrists did not demonise either side.
If d’Ancona wants some identity politics, let him have some. By his surname, he has presumably been part of the colonising ruling class since 1066. Time for reparations and time for him to head back to France. There is probably a dinghy on a local beach that he can use for his journey.

John Hughes
John Hughes
3 years ago

Ancona is an ancient Italian city, on the Adriatic south of Rimini. Surely Matthew of that city is a character in a Shakespeare play set in an Italian city-state? Not descended from the Normans.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Great stuff. Although Identity Ignorance Innovation might be an April Fool.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It may be but you can get it on Amazon

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 years ago

This article was a lot of words that circled around the central point that – just as thinking of the “yoof” of the day as irremediably dense is as old as the pyramids, so is the panic of an older generation when they realise that the ideas that prevailed when they were at the zenith of their “power” are now old hat.

Paul Hayes
Paul Hayes
3 years ago

They thought Will Self was a novelist

He was a faux novelist; a novelist manqué.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Hayes

I enjoyed Great Apes.

Kerie Receveur
Kerie Receveur
3 years ago
Reply to  Paul Hayes

Much like Zadie Smith

Ken Charman
Ken Charman
3 years ago

So, many of these clowns started their journalistic career writing for the NME in the 1970s and graduated to mocking the uncool with “Have I Got News For You”. They hit peak “right-on” under Tony. Like many of this generation I never participated in their nonsense. Maybe we need to recognise the chain of succession is unbroken between them and today’s intersectionalist, critical theory, social justice drones. Patronising trendy progressivism is a continuum and not a feature of intergenerational Dad to v son rivalry.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ken Charman
David Boulding
David Boulding
3 years ago
Reply to  Ken Charman

“Progressive” is a very ill-used word. There is nothing about socialism that is “progressive”. Nothing! “Progressivism” creates unpleasantness and division always. A better description might be “regressive”.

matthewspring
matthewspring
3 years ago
Reply to  David Boulding

Thelma and Louise ‘progressed’ off the edge of a cliff at some speed, if I recall correctly.

Richard Parker
Richard Parker
3 years ago

Well, that ramped up sharpish, didn’t it? Please tell me it was an April fools’ joke.

Scott Carson
Scott Carson
3 years ago
Reply to  Richard Parker

I fear you’ll be disappointed, he’s probably serious. The amusing thing is that he writes with a similar degree of confidence in his own opinions as d’Ancona does. If April 1st were Irony Day, we’d have a winner.

Mark Knight
Mark Knight
3 years ago

Brilliant!

Andy White
Andy White
3 years ago

Bracing! It so needed saying as well – thank you!!

Wulvis Perveravsson
Wulvis Perveravsson
3 years ago

The best thing his generation could do if they want to help out the young is club together en masse and sell them their (cheaply bought and massively over-inflated in value) houses at a huge discount. Any takers on this idea among you and your peers Matthew? No, didn’t think so.

John Hughes
John Hughes
3 years ago

Thank you for the enjoyable review. Matthew D’Ancona’s apparent call for the acceptance of ‘identity politics’ may be because he knows this will generate debate, get him on TV in discussions with critics, and sell his book. The review is good enough to tell us his argument, and why not to bother buying it. There is a one other detailed review on line, by James Bloodworth published in the ‘Times’ on 26 March. It is a somewhat more favourable critique but also finds D’Ancona’s arguments largely unconvincing. See https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/identity-ignorance-innovation-by-matthew-dancona-review-cjlbd0fdm
Ian Hislop is certainly not of the ‘Britpop generation’ whatever that is. Was it something to do with the start of the Blair Government when the band Oasis and the Gallagher brothers were invited to a Downing Street reception?

Last edited 3 years ago by John Hughes
Andrew Lale
Andrew Lale
3 years ago

‘…d’Ancona wants to make an offer to the youngsters who will not “tolerate the quiet bigotries of the past”. I would like to make a counter-offer to everyone else who will no longer tolerate the noisy bigotries of the present, emanating from the Remain tendency over the last four years. If you call me a xenophobic neo-colonialist racist gammon for voting to leave the EU, you probably don’t have the moral high ground.

Terence Fitch
Terence Fitch
3 years ago

Geub Street article about Grub Street. Outside a London coterie very little of this would make any sense to vast numbers of Brits. A bit like Greene complaining to a tiny readership about the upstart crow Shakespeare though Ancona is clearly no Shakespeare.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago

Ouch!

Douglas Allford
Douglas Allford
3 years ago

Don’t hear many fans of the ‘report’ mentioning Windrush — a catastrophe visited upon British citizens; it follows from a ‘hostile environment’ designed by two home secretaries to induce ecstasy in their supporters.

Jake Prior
Jake Prior
3 years ago

Don’t agree with everything there, but that was maybe the best book review I’ve read. And I guess I’m a Britpopper. Great to hear your generation standing up for yourselves. I just wish you’d do a bit more of it when your lives are wrecked by old people that demand the government stop death, and unhealthy people that they protect them from the consequences of their choices. But I digress, great article.

Simon Denis
Simon Denis
3 years ago

Aggressive and odious nonsense. D’Ancona may be many things but he deserves better than a saloon bar hatchet job like this.

david stevenson
david stevenson
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Sort of agree. I’m no fan D’Ancona and think that most of his ideas are no hopers but if we are honest this is indeed an angry hatchet job that inflames the alleged ‘generation’ wars and doesn’t make a coherent argument. I’m not even sure that most centrist dads would recognise D’ancona as one of their own. Much rather have heard James Butterworth on the subject or Paul Embery who’d make much sharper points

Nigel Clarke
Nigel Clarke
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

Why? Seriously…why? He’s so wet he would evaporate on a mild sunny day.

Derek M
Derek M
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Denis

No I don’t think he does

9fby6nvct9
9fby6nvct9
3 years ago

Well, I read Identity Ignorance Innovation in the week when a group forced a teacher into hiding, and within a few days of David Lammy being told that he was not English by a call-in guest on his radio show. Both incidents were examples of where identity politics is taking us, and will continue to take us, if it is not challenged.

This reminded me of nothing so much as the Basil Fawlty scene: “Oh I see, bigotry is my fault is it? Oh of course, there I was thinking that it was bigots’ fault because they’d been left in charge, or the enabler’s fault for not waking you, and all the time it was my fault. Oh it’s so obvious now, I’ve seen the light. Well I must be punished then, mustn’t I? You’re a naughty boy, centrist dad, don’t do it again”
Speaking personally, I’d rather blame the bigots for their own behaviour than the people targeted by their bigotry, even when the latter have the temerity to say “I’m gay / Jewish / a woman / black and unashamed of it”. But hey ho, apparently that’s identity politics and I’m the cause of the bigotry, rather than people who say “you’ve only got yourself to blame for going on about it all, why can’t you just be black *quietly* like your lot did in the old days”