What is the point of this article ? Reads just like yet another Tory-bashing article by yet another academic with an agenda to push (and it appears a new book to shift). Should UnHerd really be serving the chat show market where authors come on the sofa to do interviews in exchange for free PR ?
There is the usual lack of understanding of why people vote conservative – random generalisations like that there is nothing “natural” about the Tory party. What is this supposed to mean ? And is it any more or less “natural” than the other parties ? And so what if it is (or isn’t) ?
The final sentence almost unknowingly blunders on the only truth in this rather sad effort: “For him and his associates, Birmingham went, above all, with the phrase “self-made”.” Yes – the conservative party is for people who want to make something of themselves. And are happy to get off their backsides and get on with the job. That is a lot more than “the prosperous commuters of Sutton Coldfield and the white ex-car workers (or their widows) of Northfield are now the only people in Birmingham to vote Conservative”.
Quite how someone with such a tenuous grasp of reality gets to be a Professor is beyond me.
It’s what I call a “Nick Cohen article”. Start off with an incorrect assertion and then support it with a few historic anecdotes laced with left-wing arsenic. If you’re lucky you might spin a book out of it.
I want Unherd to keep providing a range of views but many of us subscribe to avoid articles like this which are merely trailers for BBC/Guardian/New Statesman readers with enough spare cash to want to buy the book.
That tenuous grasp is a requirement.
Exactly, the whole thing was twaddle from start to finish. I have never known Birmingham to have been associated with Conservatism in any meaningful way to start with. And also – Thatcherism was a product of Birmingham, because some Marxist loser used the term in 1979. Whatever, Prof.
The article is correct in recording the Chamberlain (Joseph, Austen, Neville) association with Birmingham.
It fails to mention Powell (another Birmingham native and West Midlands MP) – a glaring omission given it’s obsession with “Thatcherism” and the clear influence he had on voting in the region in the mid 1970s.
“Enoch Powell, so intelligent that he made the rest of his party doubt that they were really Tories.”
I suspect the Conservatives are more interested in Birmingham less because it represents some idea of “deep England” (whatever that even means) and more because it is not as affluent as the South but more affluent that the North and has proven its willingness to vote Conservative with the back-to-back elections of Andy Street. It, and the wider Midlands, is therefore a key battleground for the Tories.
Are we also to assume that the inhabitants of any other city would list natural landmarks as opposed to man-made ones? Would Londoners not list Tower Bridge, the Houses of Parliament, Buckingham Palace and Marble Arch as key landmarks? I’m not sure that the phenomenon is Brum-specific, rather the logical result of people living in dense cities that are man-made by definition.
As an aside, Goldman Sachs very publicly opened a new office in the city a year or two ago so I suspect that quite a few Goldman Sachs employees have set foot in the city.
Andy Street was formerly MD of John Lewis, so there’s a bit more to him than just being “well-meaning and amiable”. I suspect he’s contributed more to the public good than this rather condescending academic.
“As for Goldman Sachs, I suspect that most of its employees have never set foot in Birmingham”…they opened their first office outside of London there last year. Sloppy.
Yes, but he loves the city, so he doesn’t need any facts.
I had not realised Birmingham had only one Cathedral, one internet search later Birmingham actually has three Cathedrals. None of which were built in the 20th Century. A fairly significant mistake the youngest Cathedral was built in in 1873 but became a cathedral in 1980. That’s a quick look at wikipedia but i doubt anyone’s lying about that kind of information.
I have just noticed the comment below about Goldman Sachs Birmingham office which i find relevant to the lack of knowledge about the city the writer seems to be writing about.
I have to agree with the other commentators here on the style of the article . Especially as I started reading Unherd due to the articles on Flyover Country matters outside of London.
Never having lived near the city i associate Birmingham with Spaghetti Junction and various 2nd division musical acts some of whom i have spent money on.