About Comment

Issues of moment — not necessarily this moment. Articles appearing in this section will tend to be longer and more considered than those appearing elsewhere. Some will comment on current news and events. But, in general, I’ll try to avoid stories of ‘’this moment’’, to concentrate on more substantial issues of our time. I may not contribute much profound or original, but writing about such topics may, at least, clarify my own thoughts.

Backward, complacent and incompetent are the adjectives which spring to mind, whenever I consider the state of Britain today. And it really doesn’t matter which area of national life I’m thinking about. Almost all of them are dominated by useless, posh-boy, amateurs — with delusions of moral and intellectual superiority.

Problems forseen, solutions available, decades ago. Counter cases may exist, but right now I can’t think of any really fundamental problem today that wasn’t being being debated in roughly the same way, when I was a teenager in the 1970s — global warming, damaged ecosystems, congestion, pollution, terrorism, inequality, obesity, low productivity, racism, nationalism and immigration, etc. While pretty much the same solutions were being contested and resisted by the same forces as today.

Not because problems are endemic or irresolvable. You only need to look at other societies that have either resolved, or at least begun to resolve, such problems — to know that what British ‘leaders’ consider ‘impossible’ is eminently (and imminently) do-able.

50 years ago the Dutch decided to improve city life by reducing car access. Today, no significant Dutch group contests that premise. They’re too busy having the next debate about balancing the interests of city cyclists and pedestrians.

60 years to abolish free supermarket plastic bags? — Give me a break! As soon as it was done, nobody but plastic bag sellers could think of any good reason why it hadn’t been done decades earlier. It was the right thing to do. But utterly trivial. It won’t put the slightest dent in our waste disposal problems — and yet it was considered ‘politically impossible’ for almost the entirety of my life.

“Fog in the Channel, Continent cut-off” is the stock British response to suggestions that we might learn anything from other peoples’ experience. Wilful ignorance is our national pastime, celebrated in our criticism of those we deem “too clever, by half” or “opinionated”. No wonder almost every reform we undertake seems like a reluctant copy of something we condemned as ‘foreign madness’ only weeks before.

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