Reading the papers it seems that Britain is chalking up a number of superlatives.
The most obvious, and the one that directly affects everyone, is the IMF forecast that of the G7 countries, Britain’s recession will be the deepest. Britain’s level of private debt, a key element in the current economic predicament, is the worst in the EU. So much for Britain being well placed to weather recession!
Britain’s debt-ridden system of unbridled capitalism, championed first by Thatcher and then perfected by New Labour, seems to have led the country to the edge of a social abyss – at least that is the picture thrown up by a whole raft of studies comparing Britain to its continental neighbours.
Social democracy is truly dead in Britain, if only because Britain is now under a Labour Government the most unequal society in the EU. British children according to another survey are the worst off in Britain: enjoying the least parental time, having the fewest rights and suffering the highest stress levels. British state pensions are the lowest when compared to average national earnings.
The wider society does not fare much better. In another study published a few weeks ago, I read that, if you exclude older people, the British were among the least likely to trust one another in Europe. Yet another study showed that Britain had the highest transient population (people moving rather than staying in any one location). The result is fractured communities and anomic men and women. As Margaret Thatcher said, ‘There is no such thing as society.’ Blair and Brown have realised her dream.
Then Britain spends more on policing than any other EU country; it has the largest prison population per head and has the most CCTV cameras at one for every fourteen individuals.
OK, Britain does not come out on the bottom in everything. It is not the poorest, does not have the most violent police – nor is it the most corrupt country in Europe. However even in these indicators Britain is slipping down the table rather than moving up.
It stinks. New Labour has failed and has done so spectacularly.