Ever since Roger Scruton applied the veneer of respectability to what had previously been considered mere bigotry, there has been a steady stream of those treading the same path, and all coming unstuck, usually sooner rather than later. With the loathsome Toby Young, Jordan Peterson, Brendan O’Neill, and Doug Murray The K, the impression of get-rich-quick villainy is inescapable. And then there is Matthew Goodwin.
Goodwin has become “respectable” by authoring, or co-authoring, supposedly highbrow books, and being given a platform by equally respectable magazines like the Staggers, whose editor Jason Cowley gave the game away when he spoke so highly of Scruton recently. But it is not difficult to see right through Goodwin.
One of those so seeing recently has been Jonathan Portes, who yesterday mused “Johnson: ‘There are parts of the country where English is not spoken by some people as their first language and that needs to change’. How does he plan to change it? Mass deportations?” Goodwin and his contrarianism were there in a shot.
“Here's another good example of liberal catastrophising … A politician (in this case Boris) makes a not unreasonable suggestion that we should all be able to speak the language to support the social contract & build cohesive communities … Yet, somehow, we are at ‘mass deportations’”. Quite apart from trusting anything emanating from Bozza, Goodwin deliberately interprets “English as a second language” as “Can’t speak English”.
This was picked up swiftly by James O’Brien: “Farage’s children speak German at home. You know this, you understand precisely the point @jdportes was making & yet you pretend not to. There may be other explanations for doing so but the only one I can think of is that you enjoy inciting ignorant hatred of immigrants. Stop”.
Goodwin was indignant. “To be clear, what I have an issue with is the instant jump from a speech, taken out of context, to ‘mass deportations’. I don't find that kind of talk helpful in the current context James. Nor your latter accusation. By all means carry on and you'll be hearing from my lawyer”. I shall write to the the Times about this, I tell you!
But having suggested he would be next in line to be referred to the precedent legal case of Arkell v Pressdram 1971, Goodwin then softened his tone. “Hi James, I understand you're a polemicist looking for clicks but your tweet was offensive. You know nothing about me. We've not met. I found Jon's ‘mass deportations’ unhelpful in current climate, as I find your style unhelpful. It fuels polarisation”. A big boy must have done it and run away.
O’Brien was unimpressed. “You asked to meet me in 2014 to discuss my Farage interview for a book you were writing. I happily agreed. You didn’t turn up then completely misrepresented the interview’s genesis in the book. I pointed this out to you here, you didn’t reply. Hope your lawyer is ‘no win no fee’”. Suddenly, Goodwin changed tack.
“I am out at the moment but I would love to debate you on these points. Invite me on to your show and let's thrash it out, seriously. Bring Portes too”. Peter Jukes of Byline Media had this sussed. “And your lawyer? Or just your publicity agent? Seriously, threatening legal action one moment and asking for a plug the next is kind of so very 2019”.
And all this from a supposed “Professor”, an intellectual, a serious thinker, and not just another trying to ape Scruton, honestly. Simon Ubsdell wasn’t so sure about that: “Perhaps times have changed a lot but this doesn't strike me as altogether appropriate behaviour from a ‘distinguished academic’. Goodwin is looking increasingly like a hysterical zealot rather than someone who is paid to think for a living”. Quite. And Jukes had more.
“I’m of the opinion Mathew Goodwin is auctioning for the role of the UK’s Jordan Peterson. Since Roger Scruton immolated himself so spectacularly, I think there could be a vacancy”. And after Goodwin tried the “conspiracy theory” jibe in return, Jukes upped the ante with “Quack conspiracies like Carole Cadwalladr’s multiple award winning investigations? Are you just Paul Staines with a teaching post?”
At least the perpetually thirsty Staines is free of pretence: he’s a propagandist, shameless with it, and doesn’t care who knows it. Goodwin, on the other hand, uses the pretence of intellectual gravitas to lend a seriousness to a philosophy that does not warrant it.
And if he wants to instruct his lawyer, then so be it. Just remember Arkell v Pressdram.
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