PRIDE BEFORE A FALL – Euro Weekly News
England’s green and pleasant country is not what it used to be, thanks to years of national complacency. Credit: David Worboy
Despite the lack of sunshine, I love the country I grew up in. When I was very young it was a united country whose people showed courage, discipline and humor during and after the hardships of World War II.
“Made in England” had a reassuring quality suggestion. We had prestigious institutions like the Church of England, the BBC, the NHS and the National Gallery. We were blessed with a highly respected 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 are still intact. We have Covent Garden Opera, Arsenal, Bank of England, Financial Times and Oxfam. If there was such a thing as the capital of the world, it would still be London. Oxford and Cambridge are still among the most renowned universities. English villages are some of the most charming around and we have the Lake and Peak Districts, the Chilterns and the Cotswolds.
There was – and is – much to be proud of, but there was always an undertone of arrogance and perceived superiority that probably stems from the possession of a vast British Empire. It took us half a century to accept its disintegration (or the liberation of its members – or independence!).
It is natural that arrogant attitudes should be humbled. Unfortunately, the UK, particularly England, despite its struggles and failures falls into this category. From the days of imperialism and colonialism to sport and politics to Brexit, the UK still seems to consider itself superior to listening to and learning from others. Pride (or complacency) is a major cause of the current downfall.
This can be seen most clearly in the complacency of conservative government ministers who, after more than twelve years of catastrophic failure, are always proud of what they have achieved and of their party. They promise a world-best NHS and an education system second to none. While there’s nothing wrong with optimistic and ambitious goals, it’s as realistic as a promise to make Manchester the most glamorous city in Europe.
And I believe it was that arrogance that led to Brexit and all the UK’s economic, political and social problems. If deep concern for my country’s future makes me a Brexit moaner, then so be it. If you look at our current situation, despite its shortcomings, membership of the EU has worked well for our country for 47 years, with free movement of people, goods and services between and within our key partner countries. But no! It was deemed not good enough for the UK.
A return to the club is probably as likely as Russia’s admission, but I’m afraid we’d be too proud to even think about it.
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