‘Take back control’: English new municipalism and the question of belonging

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Spring 2020
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DOI: 10.3898/SOUN.74.05.2020

New municipalism points to ways of grounding a revitalised democracy in more inclusive forms of belonging.

‘Take back control’ has been a central mobilising theme of recent British politics. The new municipalism will be critical to addressing this demand without indulging in nativism and ethno-nationalism, though to do so it must answer the question of how to fashion progressive belonging in a multi-ethnic, post-colonial nation. After a brief discussion of the British left’s responses to this question, this article looks at the ways in which some of the international new municipalist platforms have sought to reshape the nation state’s politics of identity and belonging; it then explores these ideas on the ground in terms of current municipal politics in England, looking at a number of different places including Preston and Wigan, and with a longer discussion of a recent project in the London Borough of Barking and Dagenham.

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