Monday, 23 December 2013

Britain’s new spirit of scepticism towards the NHS – and other lefty shibboleths – is refreshing

When the Left took over British culture in the 1960s, they encouraged us to start disrespecting Royalty, the Military, the Police, the House of Commons, the City of London, the Aristocracy, the Church of England, the Past (in particular the British Empire), High Culture, our elders etc. This process accelerated during the ghastly 1970s and the standard left-liberal anti-authoritarian message finally took root – like a particularly poisonous weed - in the 1980s, and bore fruit in the Blair era.

Of course, waving two fingers at everything your parents believed in is fine for a while. But no society can exist without institutions to respect or heroes to emulate, and so the liberal-left public sector establishment set about replacing traditional objects of respects with a new set which had nothing to do with fuddy-duddy concepts such as loyalty, courage, honour, discipline, wisdom or order, but which instead represented the sort of priorities approved of by educated leftists, e.g. caring for the vulnerable, supporting “victims”, rule by “experts”, undermining democracy and annoying America. So in came the NHS, social services, scientists, the BBC, socialist academics, trade unionists, the UN, the European Union, angry feminists, rock stars, handsome young terrorists, foreign aid workers, fashion designers, Trotskyite actors, charities, sundry TV personalities and Third World tyrants. This trend reached its zenith with Tony Blair’s accession to power and the outpouring of ersatz grief following the death of that mistress of disloyalty and empathetic posturing, the Princess of Wales.

But so marked has been the change in public attitudes during the past 16 years, 1997 now seems a very long time ago.  I suspect that’s partly because the new range of left-wing shibboleths have turned out to have a far less powerful hold on our loyalties and affections than those they replaced.

I was sitting in a waiting room in a major London hospital a few weeks ago with about a hundred other "clients" when some bossy cow appeared and informed us (in a tone which implied it was somehow our fault) that we’d all have to wait an even longer time than usual to be seen.  “I am very short of nurses this afternoon. One has fallen ill and has had to be taken to Casualty.” Ten years ago this approach might have engendered sympathy and meek compliance. But this is 2013 and the chap next to me muttered “Always the fucking same,” and a woman sitting opposite said, “We’re all bloody ill – that’s why we’re here!” There followed a flood of complaints and anti-NHS anecdotes from all quarters: a former nurse was particularly scathing about the incompetence and self-importance of the current breed of "angels".

Any mention of social workers reminds one of multiple failures to prevent children being brutally murdered by moronic slapper mothers and their psychopathic “boyfriends”, followed by highly-paid compassionate jobsworths assuring us that “lessons will be learned going forwards”.

The reputation of scientists has been severely tarnished by a growing suspicion that climate change is an expensive fantasy based on dodgy research and remorseless propaganda.

Thanks to a variety of blunders and revelations about superstar paedophiles, the near-universal approbation of dear old Auntie has almost evaporated and up to 70% of the British public now want the BBC licence fee scrapped.

The majority of tax-payers no longer believe foreign aid reaches those it’s supposed to help, and that, if it does, it entrenches their poverty. The dictator-ridden and wholly ineffectual UN is widely seen as a problem rather than the solution. We want out of the EU. Nobody cares about academics any longer, we’re all getting sick of being lectured about our responsibilities to the world’s poor by multimilllionaires like Bono, or having some capering California-domiciled tit like Russell Brand telling us our paltry earnings should be redistributed to lazy people who want more free stuff. We’re beginning to wonder why we're expected to view highly-paid charity executives as secular saints, and only a few retarded middle-class students and a handful of immigrants living on benefits don’t want to see all terrorists instantly strung up by the testicles.

I’m all for this new spirit of sceptical realism, but it’s left a bit of a void in our national life. We can’t simply go back to revering the institutions we automatically admired half a century ago. The City, the Police, the Church and the Commons in particular have, in a variety of ways, forsaken their right to our respect. I suspect that’s why the reputation of the Royal Family and the Military have enjoyed such a revival in recent years – there are very few national institutions left in which we can take genuine pride.  This would explain the joyous outpouring of patriotic fervour in response to last year’s Royal Jubilee and the London Olympics: the British need people and institutions which allow them a measure of collective self-esteem.

I'm not sure what  the British will turn to as an object of reverence in future, but I'm optimistic that it'll have something to do with loyalty, courage, honour, discipline, wisdom and order - concepts which are due a revival.   


  1. "...with loyalty, courage, honour, discipline, wisdom and order - concepts which are due a revival. "

    Or to quote Thomas Mann in 1918: "Ich will nicht Politik. Ich will Sachlichkeit, Ordnung und Anstand." ["I don't want politics. I want objectivity, order and decency"]. Not dissimilar to your own list.

  2. Good opinion piece by Anne McElvoy in today's Times which begins with the question why there aren't any/many right-wing comedians in the UK today. She ends up talking about heart and idealism, possessed by US political comedians and missing from their UK counterparts.

    In between, she has this:

    Commissioners say that they can’t find comedians on the Right because the metier is inherently subversive, and anti-Establishment. I don’t think this really covers it, as contemporary political comedy rarely takes aim at the hidebound parts of public services or devotes an entire tear-down to say, the more bonkers claims of the National Union of Teachers or the self-serving proclamations of the British Medical Association.