Britain, down the drain or in heaven?
May 10, 2001 1:09 PM   Subscribe

Britain, down the drain or in heaven? Interesting article from today's Independent (UK) that discusses how Britain's future will pan out. It seems that when we have an election we've got to go and become strangely self-critical before reverting to the usual refined apathy.
posted by nedrichards (12 comments total)
that's my first link ever posted! I get to feel all warm and fuzzy inside until someone shouts at me for an inappropriate post or something. I've been hanging around for a little while trying to get the mettle of MeFi so I hope it's ok.

Basically this guy's an economist/journalist (and one who usually makes sense). He's just dissecting what the British are good at, and what they aren't. Anyone think of any outrageous national characteristics / stereotypes that a nation actually conforms to? He seems to have got it pretty well right.
posted by nedrichards at 1:13 PM on May 10, 2001

I get to feel all warm and fuzzy inside until someone shouts at me for an inappropriate post or something.

Dammit, nedrichards, I think your post has an egregiously high vowel/consonant ratio. Did you even read subparagraph zz of paragraph (D) of section 47 of chapter 8 of the version 6.87q of the posting guidelines?
posted by anapestic at 1:20 PM on May 10, 2001

I agree. Look at that word "someone," for instance. Why, it actually has more vowels than consonants! That can't be normal.
posted by kindall at 1:36 PM on May 10, 2001

if I offer to be publicly flogged in a town square, somewhere in Eastern Prussia (whilst being sponsored fro the Scholarship fun of course) will that make everything better? Until then all I can say is yyyyyyyyyyyy (a solid, consonant filled meaningless babble).
posted by nedrichards at 1:40 PM on May 10, 2001

Perhaps I'm getting old, but (and whisper this quietly), some of those good things seem to be the better part (small as it may be) of the Thatcher legacy. The general openness/meritoracy, for example. Maybe you can tell I've been listening to a Radio 4 program on closed shop union arrangements that sounded medieval. Or maybe it's just that whoever was in power for that long would have both good and bad effects...
posted by andrew cooke at 2:19 PM on May 10, 2001

personally I'm all in favour of the thatcher legacy. She shall be described as a "good thing" in true 1066 style. All I was noting was that in true election cliche style we are 'on the brink' or 'balancing on a greasy pole'. It was just interesting that an election that almost everyone believes to be a forgone conclusion could (when we look back on it) be seen as a crucial moment, for either bad or good.

I'm very open minded on Blair, if he does well, good for him (and by extension us), but the mindless, and indeed needless bashing of Mrs T et al is quite silly.
posted by nedrichards at 3:00 PM on May 10, 2001

I'll only be in favour of the Thatcher legacy when I get the chance to piss on her grave. Growing up in the north-east during the 80s wasn't particularly something I'd wish on other generations.

But Britain is at an interesting point now. The 90s have softened it (Major's legacy as much as Blair's): we're simultaneously xenophobic and vibrantly multi-cultural; experiencing a kind of cultural renaissance and dumbing down the broadcast media.

Lots of interesting paradoxes. And strangely, I think that the Bush presidency is reminding us that the UK and US are two very different countries separated by a common language. We're good at being in a mess. It's a sort of self-confirmation.
posted by holgate at 3:20 PM on May 10, 2001

Fair enough. As a 90's kid (most of the 80's were a blur) that's what I feel I know. So much for the UK and US being separate what about growing up in Cornwall and the North East! To be honest I didn't (and probably still don't) have a clue what was going on elsewhere. And don't actually understand why people hate her with such a vehemence.

Indeed, Major's legacy is one that future historians will highlight significantly more than our own, and not just for Maasrict (apologies to all Dutch MeFi'ers).

We're in a mess, yes. But I think that it's a sort of superficial mess where we can roleplay at being terribly, terribly angry at the deteriorating state of our roads/railways/hospitals/grammar. It's not a propper, grade A, Albanian style anarchy yet, nor I think will it ever be.
posted by nedrichards at 12:45 AM on May 11, 2001

posted by prolific at 3:07 AM on May 11, 2001

yep. I knew I'd spelt it wrong, just not sure where...

sorry. Thanks for the correction.
posted by nedrichards at 7:20 AM on May 11, 2001

And you spelled it wrong by omitting consonants. Recidivist.
posted by anapestic at 9:26 AM on May 11, 2001

Maastricht is actually an interesting place, in spite of the tarring it received courtesy of Major. It's been a melting point in Europe for centuries.

What's intriguing about the UK, and something that liberal commentators are starting to elaborate fairly well, is that we're faced with a dilemma: we look to the USA for fiscal policy, and continental Europe for a model of public spending and services. And the two are utterly incompatible. You can't be, say, Sweden, with an American attitude towards taxes. Now, the liberal commentators argue that we're more minded towards the "give us good schools and hospitals" argument offered -- with high taxation -- on the continent, than the "give us back 'our' money" line trawled by Bush. And to be honest, I think they're right; because people appreciate in a very simplistic way that the economies of scale in the NHS may lead to a certain amount of managerial wastage, but that the result is more egalitarian than a private alternative. And people may complain about the NHS, but hardly anyone has a bad word against the doctors, nurses, and ancillary staff.

But of course, it takes exceptional circumstances (1906, 1945, even 1979) to deliver a government committed to radicalism.
posted by holgate at 5:40 PM on May 11, 2001

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