David Goodhart on city policy in the UK

People today are less individualistic and mobile than we often imagine (the majority of people continue to live within 20 miles of where they lived when aged 14) and if the increasingly important role of grandparents in childcare is to be believed then the extended family still lives too. Most of us, even if we prefer to “keep ourselves to ourselves”, still want to live in places with high trust, low crime, some continuity in the faces we see in the street and the local shops. 

So policies that try to dampen population churn, promote the integration of minorities and preserve meeting places like sub-post offices and pubs would be welcomed by most people, especially those generational groups that most appreciate stability: children, old people and young families. 

To the extent that politicians have failed to do much about those things, at least in big urban centres, it is arguably because the political nation – especially the left part of it – remains haunted by the “thick”, and now unobtainable, community of [James] Walvin’s Failsworth [in the 1950s]. Nostalgia for lost intimacy is the enemy of achievable community today. – David Goodhart, Prospect, June 2015

Published by

Paul Hodson

Head of Unit "EnergyEfficiency" at European Commission, Directorate-General for Energy

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