ON this auspicious day – the start of a new decade – let us give thanks for being blessed to be British.
We have all the more to celebrate, having decisively rejected Jeremy Corbyn’s experiment in British communism, because this sceptr’d isle is almost uniquely healthy among the major economies of the world.
Our combination of record employment, low inflation, a better-than-most fiscal position and generally thriving industry and commerce in spite of the Brexit doom-mongers gets us off to a roaring start.
Better still, thanks to impending Brexit, we can look forward to free trading with the world and the recovery after 46 years of our sovereign independence. We also have, at last, a new Speaker of the House of Commons in tune with the majority who is only too happy to let Big Ben chime our entry into the brave, new Brexit world.
Our Prime Minister may be a gambler but, so far, he is a lucky gambler. And Napoleon prized luck in his generals when reviewing their qualities.
Just to rub in our good fortune, let us look at the world at the dawn of what could be another Roaring Twenties. The demise of the European Union has been canvassed over Christmas by Bulgarian analysts because of the strains caused by the single currency and the effort to stave off recession by printing money.
The EU’s plight is all the greater because of the parlous state of the German and French economies and the perilous political position of Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron. These two leaders of the great EU project are in trouble.
Yet we Britons now have a government with a substantial majority seeking reconciliation after the stresses of Brexit and the invigoration of the North and Midlands. We also have a Prime Minister who knows that he had better perform, or his feat in winning seats at the recent General Election in areas dyed red from the dawn of democratic time will leave him feeling blue.
It is also not too much to hope that he will counsel caution in his relations with the bullying impulsiveness of Donald Trump and the dangers presented by Russia, China and Iran.
It is also clear he will be a “toughie” when it comes to the suppression of terrorism.
In short, we have a lot going for us. Of course, the old pressing problems have not gone away. It is, to say the least, daunting to list them: the GP service and wider NHS; the welfare of the old and vulnerable; educational standards, not least in universities; criminality and particularly knife crime; homelessness, drug addiction and the exploitation of children; immigration; ageing infrastructure; divisive nationalism; regional economic disparities; the wholesale attempts by minorities and politically correct to impose their will on the majority; ambulance-chasing lawyers; the wilful neglect of their clientele – indeed withdrawal of service – by businesses such as banks; and the general low level of management which has much to answer for in this catalogue of problems.
These cannot be remedied quickly but there is a reasonable prospect of their being blown away by the end of the decade if we all put our minds to it.
If their elimination – or substantial improvement – is what we all seek, then let us aim to do our bit to make Britain an even more wonderful place than Boris Johnson says it already is. Compared to the state of most of the planet, he has reality on his side.
I doubt whether I shall live to see the dawn of the Bountiful Thirties that are within our grasp. By then I would be 98. But I want my great-grandchild soon to be born to inherit a better Britain than we now have – a Britain already unrecognisable from the one I entered in the 1930s.
We shall have no excuse if we fail. We have given ourselves in the recent election the opportunity. An enormous weight rests on Boris and his ministers to improve matters in an affordable way – and so to influence the world that international drags on our progress are avoided or mitigated.
But expecting government and politicians to do everything has always bugged me.
Margaret Thatcher made the point in saying “There is no such thing as society”. Those who read her whole quote will know that she defined society not as the state but you and me, all of us. We ultimately make or break a nation.
Let us then together make Britain even better. A happy – and purposeful – New Year.