“Brexit and the election of Donald Trump – the two biggest protest votes in modern democratic history – marked not so much the arrival of the populist era in Western politics but its coming of age.”
In the midst of a series of political upsets David Goodhart has published a book which tries to make sense of the road leading to a divided United Kingdom – a book he says was originally planned to warn of the ‘coming backlash against the political status quo’, until the events of the past year outran his own expectations.
The Road to Somewhere looks at the rise of populist parties in the light of Brexit, Trump and the French National Front. In the attempt to explain such developments, Goodhart distinguishes between ‘somewheres’ who are rooted in particular localities and who lost out as a result of globalisation, versus the ‘anywheres’ who go with the flow of capital, embracing change en route.
The issue of immigration, Goodhart points out, is where the battle lines are drawn. The irony is that the family/neighbourly values which ‘somewheres’ often say they are only seeking to restore, are often found in the self-same immigrant communities whose presence they clearly resent.
The Road to Somewhere sheds fresh light on the current political landscape. Goodhart addressed a frenzied issue and brings reason to both sides of the argument – a vast improvement on the stock images of aggravated protestors. Though his book does not address how such divisions can be fixed, it does much to show how they have come about; and that, in itself, is surely step in the right direction.
The Road to Somewhere: The Populist Revolt and the Future of Politics is published by C Hurst & Co.