MichaelCD - The Blog.

The thoughts of Michael Cadwallader. Coffee loving, history book reading, Cheshire man.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Modern Britain - We've Never Had It So..........

The state of modern Britain excites wildly different opinions in public discourse. One person says we have never has it so good, another will say we're poorer. One, probably a New Labour supporter, will say that crime is very low, the other will say that is political spin. And so on.

Recently, the Economist's leader waded into the debate, emphatically stating that we have never had it so good:

Yet in a way it is odd that Britain's spirits should be low. The place is enjoying a period of extraordinary prosperity. Fourteen years of stable growth have kept unemployment down. There have been social gains as well as economic ones: fewer children and pensioners live in poverty than ten years ago. Crime is broadly lower. And with prosperity has come renewed political clout. Britain has helped to shape aid for Africa, the debate on climate change, European enlargement and, last week, negotiations to restart world trade talks.

All this is especially remarkable in contrast with the recent past. A quarter-century ago, the home of the industrial revolution was closing factories and mines. The class war raged as unions took on the government and business. In the South Atlantic a weird little war palely recalled Britain's glory days. Comparison with mainland Europe is also gratifying. After the humiliation of il sorpasso, Britain's GDP per head has once more overtaken not just Italy's, but also France's and Germany's. Although Britons are too good-natured to indulge in anything as Teutonic as Schadenfreude, they might be forgiven for a small smirk at the troubles of their old rivals.

That the Economist is cheerleading modern Britain shouldn't come as a surprise. After all, they believe that globalisation is an unmitigated good. The thing is, the worries of the British people are not as irrational as the Economist would have us believe.

Peter Hitchens' new blog post contains an extraordinary quote from a Russian journalist, that sheds some light on why it isn't that odd that the British people's "spirits should be low":

Under its corrupt government, which is widely believed to sell seats in the upper house of parliament in return for contributions to ruling party funds, the once-free nation of Britain is rapidly turning into a police state. Pre-trial detention, once limited to 72 hours, is being repeatedly extended to far longer periods. Old rules about the accused being innocent until proved guilty are being cast aside. The right to silence has been abolished and so has the law which prevented anyone being tried twice for the same offence. The police increasingly take action against individuals for expressing opinions which defy 'political correctness', the official orthodoxy of the British state. The major Churches claim that new laws discriminate against their freedom of conscience. The streets are under perpetual surveillance by closed -circuit TV cameras recording every action. The citizens are shortly to be issued with internal passports similar to Russian ones, and will be compelled to provide their fingerprints to their authorities. Schoolchildren are already being fingerprinted on such pretexts as allowing library access. The police increasingly use arrests - not followed by charges - to harass those they wish to pursue - and anyone arrested - whether convicted or not - is now compelled to give a DNA sample. As a result, Britain now has the most comprehensive DNA records of its population, anywhere in the world. Many state bodies now have the power to search people's homes, and the old maxim that 'An Englishman's Home is His Castle' is now so untrue as to be laughable. Elections are still held, but are a sham in which all the parties have more or less the same policies. The main political movements, which have lost much of their popular support, are kept going by state subsidies and contributions from millionaire businessmen. The main state-owned broadcasting system is slavishly loyal to the government and keeps minority viewpoints off the air, or treats them with contempt and derision, while the other channels mostly purvey low-grade pornographic entertainment, so-called 'reality' shows of stunning banality, old movies and sport. Meanwhile, actual crime is out of control, though citizens are legally prevented from many actions of self-defence and a government minister recently advised Britons to 'jump up and down' if they saw an old woman being attacked in the street, in the hope of distracting the attacker. This is the country which lectures Russia about 'civil society' and 'human rights'.
The fact is that whatever 'prosperity gains' globalisation's champions claim it has provided, there are at many, many drawbacks to life in modern Britain. And what they also fail to understand is that economic prosperity can be transient, but once traditional liberties and moralities are lost they are gone forever. So when you see this in action, the cry of 'never had it so good' seems extremely hollow.

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At 7:30 am, Blogger Martin said...


The claims are so hollow they echo.


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