I find David Goodhart's call for a "progressive nationalism" troubling. He says:
The interests of British citizens, of all colours and creeds, must come first. This may seem obvious...We may have obligations to all humanity but we have a much more special relationship with fellow citizens.
This is not at all obvious to me. What is the origin of this special relationship that generates greater obligations? Goodhart doesn't say. I'd guess there are two possibilities:
1. British citizens are victims of primitive accumulation - say through enclosures - which deprived them and their descendants of the land necessary to earn a subsistence living. Welfare benefits can be seen as compensation for this expropriation. Because we don't still expropriate all land from Africans, and so don't deprive them of a subsistence living, we owe them no such obligation.
2. British people naturally compare themselves to other Britons. So poor Britons feel bad by comparing themselves to rich ones. Africans never compare themselves with Britons, and so their poverty doesn't make them as unhappy.
These arguments, though, aren't overwhelmingly persuasive. Indeed, you could equally argue that we have stronger obligations to Africans than to other Britons.
1. A few pounds given to an African can save a life. The same sum given to a Briton just buys a can of Special Brew.
2. The mere fact of being born British gives you opportunities an African can hardly dream of: access to education, culture, science, medicine and job opportunities. Why should someone so lucky get even more, through welfare payments?
"Progressive nationalism" then, doesn't seem morally appealing, whatever its practicality or potential popularity.
Another thing: One thing Goodhart says is surely plain wrong:
Existing citizens' interests count too, especially poorer ones who are most likely to lose out from immigration.
Poor people lose out in numerous ways. The efficient way of protecting them is not ad hoc interventions against every threat, but - assuming we have obligations to the British poor - greater redistribution to relieve their poverty in the first place.