Bernard Ingham: My reasons to be optimistic at start of 2019

IT may come as a shock to readers, but after nearly four score years and 10, I am determined to reform. My New Year resolution is always to look on the bright side.

Prime Minister Theresa May speaks during Prime Minister's Questions in the House of Commons, London. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Wednesday December 19, 2018. See PA story POLITICS PMQs May. Photo credit should read: House of Commons/PA Wire

Out go the curmudgeonly and cantankerous habits of a lifetime to the dismay of all true Yorkshiremen who, in the immortal words of the late Don Mosey, Dalesman and BBC cricket commentator, are “rude, boorish, stubborn, aggressive, argumentative, intolerant and just plain downright bloody-minded”.

My excuse is that I wish to be fashionable. After all, this is the year of Britain beginning again as, I trust, we kiss goodbye to the European Union and recover what made Britain great – independence, a sovereign Parliament and glorious democratic freedom.

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You may reasonably think I am a starry-eyed optimist when anything could happen with this Parliament of ours. But I believe the dogged and impervious Theresa May will conscientiously do her duty and get us out of the EU.

Mark my words, the sunny uplands beckon to confound hosts of economists, HM Treasury, wet and overpaid executives, fainthearts and treacherous Remoaners such as Tony Blair.

Brussels may turn peevish for a time and Jean-Claude Juncker will drown his sorrows. But the desire to trade will soon overcome and we shall flourish.

My Christmas postbag suggests people have given up on current politicians. They think they could not run a whelk stall. In my reformed state, I see things somewhat differently.

The present crop of politicians is living proof that we live in a democracy. It may be untidy, even unmanageable, but no one is being gagged. Freedom of speech – if not always wise utterances – proliferates, at least on political as distinct from social issues. We should prize this above all.

We even allow Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell to propagate their totalitarian Marxism which would both wreck our economy and end our freedom. I cannot believe that the British people would put them in Downing Street.

Looking beyond our shores, international relations are enough to intensify the nation’s apparent epidemic of depression and mental disturbance.

President Donald Trump, Vladimir Putin, China’s aggressive approach to trade, North Korea’s Kim Jong-un, Islamic terrorism and political disarray in Europe are between them enough to give anyone nightmares.

But not me. My new-found optimism teaches me that none of them – apart perhaps from terrorists – wishes to be incinerated in a pile of atomic dust.

Contrary to appearances, they are not entirely daft. They may well posture their way into the history books, but in the end they are survivors.

And they can only survive if the world does.

This brings me to the internet which is widely condemned for a multiplicity of offences from promoting gambling and porn to interfering in elections. It has also let loose on the world the intemperate outpourings of the prejudiced.

I am immune to its pressure because I only see what newspapers choose to print of it. In any case, their venom would be lost on me, having enjoyed being called all the names under the sun for decades.

I shall treat what I hear of its critical output with a certain amusement, confident that our legislators, once we have Brexited, will eventually catch up with this phenomenon and regulate it properly.

Brexit presents us with an opportunity to concentrate on remedying many ills.

Moreover, given that life moves from one extreme to the other – for example, from 17th century debauchery to Victoria prudery within a century – I look forward to a revulsion against current prurience, crime and general nastiness in society.

You may reasonably argue that we shall all be dead before we attain this modern Shangri La. But think of the benefit to our grandchildren and successive generations when we return to old fashioned values.

This would underline parental responsibility – the lack of which is responsible for many of our society’s ills.

It would improve schooling, which would in turn eventually reflect itself in public service instead of indulgence.

A more responsible society would also ensure that the police enforce the law, end the dominance of single interest pressure groups and abolish strikes in the public sector. And not before time.

This may be the darkest hour before the dawn. But my new optimism promises a reforming society which, as Theresa May says, works for everybody and not just bloated plutocrats. I shall not be there to enjoy it but that’s not the point. Others will.

I feel better already. Happy New Year.