Editorial: Prospect 15 years on

David Goodhart reflects on his 15 years as editor of Prospect
November 17, 2010

This is my 177th and last editorial. My 15 years as editor of Prospect cannot challenge my grandfather’s 50 years editing the Law Quarterly Review. But it is long enough. I have created a magazine with a circulation of 30,000 and a place in British life, which can now flourish without me at the helm. Indeed it needs the new energy and ideas that my successor Bronwen Maddox will bring. She has the ability and experience to reach out to new readers while preserving what is best about the magazine’s character and most appeals to veteran ones. Of course I feel some ambivalence about handing my adolescent to a new parent, but thanks to my long-suffering colleagues I have learned to delegate more in recent years, and have already seen the magazine grow beyond me in many ways. I will miss the thrill of editing: the satisfaction of having a new idea, finding the best writer for it, and then helping to shape a piece of good writing that says something striking or informative. I will, however, be staying closely involved as editor-at-large, writing more and contributing as best I can.

Since my first editorial in 1995 (when Britain also had a Tory leader) I have acquired many grey hairs and worked too many weekends as the newsreel of contemporary history has rolled by: the rise and fall of new Labour, 9/11, Iraq and Afghanistan, EU expansion and the euro, the rise of China, the financial crash. Despite new Labour’s flaws, Britain is a better place in 2010 than 1997 and market-friendly social democracy remains the best big, albeit baggy, idea. The coalition half agrees—but is being tempted into some neo-Thatcherite gambles (see Tim Leunig on welfare and Sam Knight’s cover story on health). The most urgent debates now transcend left and right; one of them—the tension between diversity and solidarity—was the subject of my noisiest Prospect essay.

Here is a list of some of my Prospect highlights to date (a full list of these articles—with links—will be available soon on our website). Ruth Padel on tigers. Shiv Malik on 7/7. Martin Rees on eternity. Rowan Moore on Norman Foster. Michael Lind (his hard-headed liberalism has been the biggest political influence on me) on the Israel lobby. Bartle Bull from Iraq. Ian Buruma in China. James Fergusson’s Afghan asylum seeker. Anatol Lieven on the second fall. Edward Luttwak on the middle east. Andrew Marr on political writing. Alexander Linklater on C Hitchens (and the debate between the two brothers). John Lloyd on his stepfather. Adair Turner’s interview. Ben Lewis on modern art. Sarfraz Manzoor on Luton. Tim King on France. John Keegan on war graves. Jason Cowley’s literary interviews. Jonathan Ford on finance. Alison Wolf on the end of female altruism. Nic Dunlop’s Cambodian executioner. Anything by Paul Broks, Julian Gough, Mark Cousins, Aatish Taseer, Wendell Steavenson and the Skidelskys. And Michel Faber’s beautiful short story: “Vanilla bright like Eminem.” Good luck Bronwen.