Time for Britain to pull its socks up and prove doubters wrong – Bernard Ingham

WHO says history never repeats itself?

TEESPORT, ENGLAND - MARCH 04: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson (L) and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak (C), stand on board a boat on the River Tees on March 4, 2021 in Teesport, England. Teesport has been chosen as one of eight sites for new freeports.

Thanks to the war against Covid-19, Britain is financially nearly as badly off as we were at the end of the Second World War with our huge borrowings at the mercy of renewed inflation.

The big question is whether we are in as good a state to meet the challenge of the age.

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Well, today society is socially, educationally and materially far more equal, if you leave aside the relatively few billionaires who childishly parade their wealth like Roman Abramovich the Russian oligarch who owns Chelsea Football Club.

Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak during last week's Budget.

Opportunity knocks on every door.

But thereby hangs a caveat. Have we had it too good for too long?

After all, obesity has replaced rickets as the childhood problem even though we chuck uneaten food away by the ton while food banks for the “poor”, relatively speaking, flourish. It doesn’t add up.

Nor are we a self-confident nation any more. Have we ever been as insecure, I wonder, with daily concerns about mental health?

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex during their TV interview with Oprah Winfrey. Photo: Joe Pugliese/Harpo Productions.

Or is this a reflection of the politically correct, sensitive “woke” society we have become so that even former Civil Service heads of department can win thousands in compensation for “bullying” by Ministers?

We long to be free of Covid restrictions just as every single-issue pressure group tries to restrict our freedom of thought, expression and language.

Speakers are silenced, statues torn down and people hounded out of office with, I am sorry to say, the connivance of institutions, such as universities, that should know better.

Meanwhile, the National Trust, while supposedly the guardian of our heritage, is delving into the past for connections with the slave trade.

Don’t the dunderheads know that a distinguished Yorkshireman, William Wilberforce, abolished slavery and the Royal Navy enforced it?

And if the British Empire was as oppressive as it is painted, how come it has morphed into a Commonwealth 
of 54 nations of all races, colours and creeds?

On this evidence we have never been worse equipped to cope with the ravages of the Covid war.

If we have one thing to hold on to, it is the continuing brilliance and ingenuity of our scientists, plus forecasts of an economic bounce back once the animal spirits of entrpreneurs are let loose.

But before we throw our caps over the windmill, let’s face some other uncomfortable realities.

The future of Britain has never been less secure since its formation 300 years ago, even though the independence-obsessed Scottish Nationalists are currently indulging in internecine warfare.

Secession is also in the minds of the Welsh Nationalists and the EU is trying to seal off Northern Ireland from the UK because of its land border with the EU – i.e with the Republic.

The monarchy, which the Left would like to get rid of, is in turmoil caused by two wayward sons – the Duke of York and the Duke of Sussex.

Thank God the Queen sets an impeccable example of service. Otherwise, we might wake up to find Jeremy Corbyn president.

Parliament is not working properly – and not just because of Covid. It is so lax about its rights that Chancellor Rishi Sunak has got away with just about the most leaked Budget I can recall since careless talk forced out Chancellor Hugh Dalton in 1947.

Just about everything is trailed before the event these days. Yet this is supposed to be a democracy where Parliament hears first.

The EU is disgracefully playing silly beggars over our trade because we have had the temerity to leave its sinking federal ship. What a pathetic institution!

And 75 years since Winston Churchill made his “Iron Curtain” speech in Fulton, Missouri, we confront not just a reinforced Iron Curtain under Vladimir Putin but a bamboo curtain erected by Xi Jiping in Beijing.

Worse still, China is planting bamboo across the world, colonising from within while Russia threatens from without.

All this, a record £400bn budget deficit and a Prime Minister who is so careless about money that we have had another splurge of spending in the Budget while he is embroiled in financing the expensive refurbishing of No 10. Ye Gods, what an example!

Yet he is 13 points ahead of Labour in the polls. That tells you that the Opposition isn’t working either.

I conclude that from Prime Minister downwards we had better pull our socks up sharply. There is serious repair work to be done.

Let’s show we mean business instead of counter-productively – and expensively – faffing around.

Let’s show we aren’t as daft as we currently look.

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