By David Worboys •
Updated: 02 Feb 2023 • 12:24
England´s green and pleasant land is not what it used to be,
thanks to years of national complacency
Photo Credits: David Worboy
“Made in England” had a reassuring suggestion of quality. We had respected institutions such as the Church of England, the BBC, the NHS and the National Gallery. We were blessed with a highly regarded monarchy, parliament and judiciary. And we had the dance music. It was a pleasant country to live in.
Some of the institutions have deteriorated or lost support. Many others still remain intact. We have Covent Garden opera, Arsenal, the Bank of England, the Financial Times and Oxfam. If there were such a thing as the capital of the world, it would still be London. Oxford and Cambridge remain among the most prestigious universities. English villages are among the most charming anywhere and we have the Lake and Peak districts, the Chilterns and the Cotswolds.
There was – and is – a lot to be proud of, but there has always been an undertone of arrogance and perceived superiority, probably resulting from the possession of a vast British Empire. It took us half a century to come to accept its disintegration (or its members´ liberation – or independence!).
It is natural to want to see arrogant attitudes humbled. Unfortunately, despite its problems and failures, the UK, especially England, falls into that category. From the days of imperialism and colonialism through sport and politics to Brexit, the UK still appears to consider itself too superior to listen to and learn from others. Pride (or complacency) is one of the major causes of the current demise.
Presently this manifests itself most clearly in the complacency of Conservative government ministers who, after more than twelve years of catastrophic failure, repeatedly express pride in what they and their party have achieved. They promise a world-beating NHS and an education system second to none. While there is nothing wrong with optimistic and ambitious targets, this about as realistic as a pledge to make Manchester the most glamorous city in Europe.
And I believe it is this arrogance that led to Brexit and all the UK´s economic, political and social woes. If deep concern for my country´s future makes me a “Brexit moaner”, so be it. When you look at our current predicament, membership of the EU, for all its shortcomings, worked well for our country for 47 years, with free movement of people, goods and services among and within our most important partner countries. But no! It was not considered good enough for the UK.
Getting back into the club is probably about as likely as Russia being admitted, but I fear we would be too proud even to think about it.
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