Thursday, 10 June 2010

Happy Brits

Our friend in my favourite British political photograph of the last decade looks well pleased with life doesn't he? And he is not alone, it seems.

IPSOS-MORI released some interesting data last week. Their study showed that between November 2009 and January 2010, British people were the seventh most happiest people in the world with their local area.

A brief look, first, at which parts of the world have parochially happier folk shows that the Netherlands (85%), Canada (83%), Australia (82%), India (76%), Germany (74%) and USA (73%) all beat the UK’s result of 72% of people who were satisfied with their local area as a place to live. Sadly we don’t have research into what makes people in these places so happy with their local area, but need we ask why Holland is top? Also, it’s hard to imagine “happy-go-lucky Aussie” complain about anything. I digress, and also stereotype. But all in good humour.

Now let us look at the countries below Britain. I won’t bore readers with them all, but most notable among them include Spain, where 64% of people reported being happy with their local area, France, where 56% of people said the same and Japan, where a mere 48% were happy with their local area as a place to live. By far my favourite however, in a slightly perverse way, was Sweden. The social democratic paradise from whence all pure social democratic ideals and policies shall come henceforth has a population of whom only 69% are happy with their local area as a place to live. Has this led Swedish politicians to cry “Broken Sweden”? Not to my knowledge.

It must firstly call into question the reasons for Michael Gove’s trumpeting of his utterly bonkers ‘free schools’ plan as being modelled on Sweden’s system of local schooling. Especially when combined with a Swedish Education Minister’s comments that the system simply increases the gap between rich and poor.

What it also calls into question is why David Cameron, like he had done many times before this research and like he has done many times since, declared Britain “broken.” Cameron, along with homophobe chronie Chris Grayling, who famously said that TV show, “The Wire has become part of real life in this country too,” relentlessly pursued a campaign of scaremongering to dupe the electorate into believing Britain was a damaged society. Grayling, in justifying his analogy with The Wire, explained how the show was, “...a horrendous portrayal of the collapse of civilised life and of human despair. Neighbourhoods where drug dealing and deprivation is rife. A constant threat of robbery to fund drug dependency. Communities dogged by violence and by violent crime.” I’d suggest an addition to these horrific scenarios whereby bigoted bed & breakfast owners turn away people because they’re homosexuals too. But that is maybe a bit too outlandish.

In addition to Grayling’s - let’s call them “musings”, because this guy does seem to just continuously say the mad things that float around his head without giving them any real thought whatsoever - Cameron, amongst many other mentions of “Broken Britain”, once said,

"Do you realise that actually we need to have a more pro-family country, we need to get behind marriage and commitment and fatherhood and we need to have much more discipline in our schools and we need to have a revolution in the way that we provide welfare and education that will really mend the broken society."

Now, let’s condense the issues that Grayling and Cameron talk about into general policy areas. They talk about drugs, poverty, local robbery, violent crime, violence in the community, family breakdown, schools and welfare provision. All of these are broken down into localised issues and the problems that the Tories say that these issues create are local problems that have, they say “broken” Britain.

I am not, in any way, saying these problems do not exist. In fact, due to the area I personally live in, these sorts of issues are right on my doorstep. But how in God’s good name can these two men, and others, claim that Britain is “broken” based on these issues, these local issues, when 72% of people are happy with their local area? So 28% reported being dissatisfied. And what were the 2 top concerns for Brits? Well, top priority was “Activities for Teenagers”, which 39% reported as being important. And the second top priority, with 37% of people saying it was important, was “Road and Pavement Repairs”. You couldn’t make it up really.

So of all the aforementioned policy areas that Grayling and Cameron declared as being pressing issues for “Broken Britain”, where do “Activities for Teenagers” and “Road and Pavement Repairs” fit in?



  1. I presume you call Chris Grayling a homophobe because of his comment about B&B's. Accomodation establishments that cater for gay people are allowed to tell straight people to shove off. Isn't that heterophobic?

  2. If that is true, then yes I would consider that slightly counter-productive. And if I happened to mention any of the owners of those establishments in a blog post, I would indeed refer to their discriminatory policy.