Bernard Ingham: Ten ways we can make this a better place to live in as we embark on 2014
First, we need the powerful to recognise their responsibility to their fellow men. It is not to destroy their country as in Syria or indiscriminately to blow people up, whether fellow Muslims or assorted infidels such as Christians whom they increasingly persecute. It is to build a peace and prosperity shared by all.
With modern technology, prosperity for the masses is perfectly possible if the power-mad rabble running too many countries cared for their people instead of ruthlessly exploiting them.
I realise this requires a change of heart and mind of Damascene proportions. Without it, Planet Earth will remain a playground for those who glory in war, conflict and blood.
Second – and this is in a sense an extension of the first – is for a new sensitivity in Western capitalism. Its purpose is not to serve Mammon but the people who have latterly been sorely abused by its practitioners. I look for sinners come to repentance and restraint, starting with the highest earners in the City and industry and commerce.
Telephone-number salaries and bonuses simply for doing the job are an affront to those trying to better themselves on a fraction of this smug, self-perpetuating largesse.
While we clearly must reward ability, anyone who cannot live well now and in the future on £250,000 a year – and some footballers get that a week – has a serious problem. So does society.
Third, this island nation will never be able to fulfil its destiny as an independent force for good in the world while it is a member of the European Union. It is not that the concept of European co-operation is wrong; it is the way that Europe, too often with palsied British assent, has – and continues – to develop.
It is only a matter of time before the euro blows up. It is increasingly an offence against humanity in the youth unemployment it has induced. We are mercifully outside its mangling zone, but we are still not able to govern ourselves. Until we can our democracy will be undermined by a growing and unhealthy contempt for politicians.
Fourth, I trust that every single voter increasingly recognises this year what is needed of them in 2015: a clear cut verdict on who is to govern us. While the current coalition has not been an unmitigated disaster, it is one where increasingly the junior partner glories in what it has blocked rather than facilitated.
What this country needs is not Dr No. It is Dr Yes who gets up and goes – and no less eagerly as Chancellor George Osborne brings solvency to the nation’s finances.
At the same time I hope – fifth – that sometime soon our politicians stop dancing to the media’s tune, hijacking ideas for PR reasons, and instead bring forward considered policies in due time. An end to coalition should help. If not, Lord save us.
Sixth, I long to see the welfare state back on its original footing – as a safety net and not as a featherbed for the indolent with limited horizons. It is time the British people complemented their compassion for the weak and vulnerable with a harder edge to all those who evidently think it is perfectly acceptable to live at the taxpayers’ expense.
Seventh, I cannot wait to see the education system pulling out all stops to create a disciplined youth prepared for work linked to their aptitudes. It is not doing that currently and it is handicapped by a ridiculous egalitarianism and a refusal to recognise competition is in the nature of man.
Eighth, we shall not get anywhere as a nation while we treat criminals not just with kid gloves but damn near gold plate their prisons in the unlikely event of their ending up in them.
Ninth, like the rest of the West, we shall be destroyed as an economic force unless we stop energy policy being driven by mad environmental zealots who demand the most expensive and largely useless technologies such as wind, solar and biomass.
Finally – and this is crucial – there will be no real security or prosperity unless and until Britain is paying instead of borrowing its way in the world.
Human nature being what it is, I don’t suppose the world will be all that much better in 12 months’ time. But I feel better for explaining how to improve it.