Harris’ augment is simple: it is that British politics is not listening to what people really want. And to hear it you have to go – as he does – to the places where it is being said. It is doing what the economist Danny Blanchflower calls ‘going walkabouts’ to ignore the formulas, assumptions and preconceptions and actually observe what is really happening in life.
I have long argued that what people really want in life is enough to live on, to live in community, to have the support of family and friends and to feel that they have a purpose as a result. That’s what my whole book ‘The Courageous State’ is really all about, in a sentence.
And no one is offering these things in British politics right now. There is simply too much flag waving on left and right for most people.
Both Rotherham and Brexit would have been rather different if people had been listening earlier, no?
A focus on housing, education, health, jobs, local services and invetsment in communities is what the British want of their politics. The rest they will tolerate because the political classes want it. But politics has forgotten it is about people’s ordinary lives first.
And possibly not mass immigration and the European Union?