‘Despised’ – Book Review

Despised is the latest in several books which is now seeking to advance a new and important idea. Before this it was Nick Timothy with Remaking One Nation and Matthew Goodwin with National Populism. Both, in some sort of way, were putting forth the view that most people in Britain are middle of the road. So nothing new. Well, that’s where you’d be wrong because what we commonly understood as mainstream, that one must be a liberal in the economy and a liberal in society, is redundant and it is being replaced by a new mantra: centre-left on the economy, centre-right on society.

For Paul Embery in Despised, the differentiation from that short lineage of literature is that he presents a Blue Labour inspired analysis from the perspective of the industrial working class, which includes areas in the ‘red wall’ that Labour lost. You might re-interpret this as a sort of ‘I told you so’ but instead I choose to see it as ‘you chose to ignore us before 2019, please don’t continue to ignore us now’. In the book Embery discusses a whole range of topics with the growing chasm between the Labour Party and the working class. He tackles this in many ways, not least an entire chapter relating to the left’s adoption of “liberal wokedom” or, less popularly known as identity politics. Be under no illusions however, this doesn’t make Paul a racist et al. In fact, there are various paragraphs throughout the book in which he embraces the multicultural nature of Britain’s working class naming his own father-in-law as one of them.

He obviously discusses some topics which some may find uncomfortable (particularly on the left) to talk about: immigration, identity, patriotism, and globalisation. In one section he makes the case that Britain is not prejudiced in the way many commonly caricature it. The most important component of all, however, is the continual reinforcement of the claims he makes with evidence. So, for example, when making the case against a prejudiced Britain he cites polls from reputable pollsters including YouGov. It all makes it just that little bit more compelling.

I can imagine it might be hard to read if you’re invested in a lot of the liberal agenda relating to society in-particular but read it you must and not because I have any particular investment in his book. Instead, I have an investment in the left and the Labour Party and the ideas Paul proposes – which includes promoting the nation state – I believe are part of a growing body of literature which could offer some answers to those in, and even on the outside, of Labour who want to know how to win back the working class.

For more on Despised and Paul Embery, tune into the Liberal Base Podcast ‘Can I Make A Point?’ at 16:00 on Monday. Find out more via the website (liberalbase.com) or the twitter @liberalbase.

Daniel is a political activist and an Associate Editor of Liberal Base. His interests are in populism, democratic crisis, western party politics and automation. He tweets @danny_hod and blogs at dannyhodson.com

Image Credit: Polity Books