Monday, 6 April 2020

Making assumptions about attitudes

Yesterday’s call from the queen for us all to take pride in the UK’s response to the pandemic reminds me of a speech at a Plaid event many years ago by a guest from the SNP.  She talked about having been on a British cruise ship in the Mediterranean which suffered engine failure followed by a breakdown in the power in the kitchens.  Drifting in the middle of the sea with only cold food to eat, one of her fellow guests referred to the stoic nature of the response by saying “Doesn’t it make you feel proud to be British”.  Her quick response was to say that she’d have been rather prouder had the ship been underway and had they been eating hot food.
And so it is with the UK response to the pandemic. Of course it’s good to see most people responding responsibly and accepting the temporary deprivation in mostly good spirit, but I’d find it a great deal easier to be proud of the UK if the government hadn’t spent 10 years cutting back on the NHS and other public services, four years working out how to cut ourselves off from our nearest neighbours and sources of support and mutual aid, and two months underplaying the extent of the crisis, doing too little, too late, and increasing the toll of preventable deaths as a result.  There’s more pride in competence than incompetence; a willingness to learn from and work with others is a better cause for pride than pretending we’re exceptional, different, and know better than anyone else; and honesty and straight talking generate more pride than obfuscation and lies.
I don’t doubt that there are many in the UK whose attitudes are coloured by a rose-tinted folk memory of ‘the war years’.  Most of them weren’t actually there, of course, but they hark back to a sense of unity and resolve, ignoring the huge rise in crime and selfishness which was also a major characteristic of the time (if anything, the real surprise today is not that some people flout the rules but that so few do). For that group, the presentation of facts which undermine that interpretation is not only unacceptable, it’s almost treason. The government and the monarch are assuming that those attitudes, that ‘official’ version of history, is one shared by all, or almost all the population, and that an appeal to that folk memory will rally the populace. That might well turn out to be just another miscalculation by an out-of-touch elite.


Anonymous said...

Excellent observation.

Gav said...

Well said.

[watched the show and was half expecting her majesty to burst into song at the end. Disappointing.]

dafis said...

H.M seems quite content to be "playing" the role of some kind of fairy godmother to the "nation" and millions still attach real value to the entire charade. Gets increasingly weird. Delusion reaching masochistic pitch among the "faithful" while the rest of us do our best to ignore the nonsense as it contains nothing that can be taken as a point of learning.

Anonymous said...

'Out of touch elite' or 'in touch commoner' ... please spare the world and Wales any more of Mark Drakeford and his appalling use of the English language. Let the man speak Welsh, no one is listening to him so what difference would it make?

As for the last ten years, thank goodness we did what we did do otherwise just imagine the mess we'd be in. You need to take more pride in English achievement, a lot of our brightest originally hailed from Wales but had to leave because of the policies you continually espouse.

John Dixon said...

"As for the last ten years, thank goodness we did what we did do otherwise just imagine the mess we'd be in." Yes, I suppose it is hard to imagine where we might be today if we'd had properly funded public services over the last ten years. But thankfully, there is always an English nationalist like yourself around to point out how disastrous that would have been and how lucky we are that the English government was farsighted enough to cut them back instead.

dafis said...

Anon wrote his/her comment just after midnight - a chance perhaps that a touch too much of the hard stuff brought demons to the surface. On the other hand some people come out with this drivel persistently without taking a draught or three to smooth the flow. He was about right about Drakeford but to use the Welsh language as means of reducing the First Minister's "reach" is a touch silly. If he's daft in English what makes Anon think that having him speak Welsh is any improvement ? Again the logic based on being tired and emotional.

Spirit of BME said...

Dear Betty – the old darling, I missed here chat, but saw a picture of her the following day.
I think the boys in the communications dept at Buck House, needs to go out more.
She was dressed with three stings of peals, dropped pearl ear rings and a diamond broach, none of which were paste.
Making contact with a single parent with three children in a high rise flat in the current situation, is bound to fail.
So, back to the drawing board chaps.

dafis said...

Spirit of BME. Normally I would agree with your advice, but Betty has long held the view that dressing up as some kind of latter day fairy godmother, or the nation's posh gran, helps to create a sense of aspiration which motivates the single parent and his/her brood to fly forth from their high rise flat and engage with work and taxable income. Sadly empirical evidence for this stance is a bit hard to come by. Most evidence suggests that those who are motivated to acquire a bit more disposable income/wealth prefer to do so by taking what don't belong to them, deal in substances which seem to have limitless markets,or peddle their own or others' orifices often for the gratification of people who regard Betty as a sacred institution.

Easy to miscue one's purpose in these changing times,especially if one is nearly 94.

John Dixon said...


"Most evidence suggests that..." Really? That looks more like a jaundiced view than an evidenced one. I can't deny that some people fit into that category, but in my personal experience, most people who "...are motivated to acquire a bit more disposable income/wealth..." try to do so honestly. We should never forget, though, that 'honestly' itself covers a multitude of sins, some of which (like hedge funds gambling with our pension funds) ought to be as illegal as any other type of theft.