Head Hand Heart by David Goodhart review – does getting a degree matter too much?

Do too many people now go to university? And shouldn’t manual work and care work be more valued? A timely but flawed polemic

David Goodhart has been on the winning side of successive ideological battles over the last 25 years. As founder of Prospect magazine in 1995, he correctly sensed an emerging Blairite zeitgeist that built policy innovation on the “big ideas” of ambitious Anglo-American intellectuals. His controversial 2004 essay, “Too Diverse?”, which challenged liberal orthodoxies surrounding immigration, appeared heterodox (not to mention menacing) to many of his readers and associates, but foreshadowed a decade in which anti-immigration sentiments and Nigel Farage moved steadily towards the mainstream of British politics.

His 2017 book, The Road to Somewhere, which coined the catchy binary of liberal “anywheres” and traditionalist “somewheres”, captured Theresa May’s stated ideological project of a new working-class conservatism, later discernible in Boris Johnson’s 2019 election triumph. And now, Head Hand Heart arrives to throw doubt on the shibboleths of the “knowledge-based” economy and the importance of graduates in society, just as the government has made clear it wants fewer people going to university, and as Covid-19 threatens a major financial crisis for higher education.

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