Bernard Ingham: Never had it so good '“ but we're crippled by malaise
LIKE most of my generation, I was brought up to leave this planet in a better condition than I found it. Now, like Wordsworth, it 'much grieves my heart to think what man has made of man', notably in Syria. We have failed miserably.
The daily litany of human folly, homicide, terrorism and the cyber conduct of war by a different means has impelled me to take stock of how we have failed.
It is not, of course, all bad. My generation has probably seen the greatest material progress in man’s long history. In little more than 50 years, the world has become everyone’s oyster. Opportunity knocks. We are richer beyond the dreams of avarice than when I was a lad before World War Two.
Science and technology have opened up the world to the working masses and liberated women from lives of domestic drudgery.
The advances in medical science have raised life expectancy. Obesity, not malnutrition, is now an international concern.
In short, most people have never had it so good, as Harold Macmillan put it back in 1957 when the material improvement in Britain’s life was well underway.
However critical I am of politicians, they have, with notable backslidings, presided over a steady advance, at least in material comfort.
Most crucially, they have maintained for nigh on 75 years a wobbly world peace, as distinct from local conflicts, terrorism of various kinds and state-sponsored assassination. Given our history, that is an achievement.
Let us hope that a combination of Vladimir Putin’s Russia, President Assad, Kim Jong-un, Islamic turmoil, Chinese ambition and President Donald Trump’s wilful refusal to engage his brain before he tweets will not upset the apple cart.
Even in my most pessimistic moments, I doubt whether any of them is mad enough to unleash nuclear warheads. As deranged as some of them may seem, I doubt they are suicidal.
Instead the threat to our civilisation comes from two quarters – a vast migration from Africa and that powder keg called the Middle East; and, after too many years of soft living, Western palsy in defending its values.
My generation has waxed fat on plenty and waned with a softening of the brain. It has become careless of its own interests, not merely apologetic of its good fortune but ashamed of it, having failed abjectly to ensure that the downtrodden of the world are raised instead of just dishing out conscience money called overseas aid.
The result is a threat to the identities of Western nations since immigration is manifestly out of control, both in terms of international law and political will to reverse the tide for the benefit of the developing nations that desperately need their best to stay and create wealth.
Worse still, our Establishment – the so-called leaders of communal institutions – has lost its pride in being British. The result is not just epitomised by Remainers vehemently opposed to Brexit or Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who goes about as if he were living in Dickensian England.
Timidity, otherwise known as political correctness, has all but eliminated common sense while at the same time the deranged, fanatics and exhibitionists have been armed with a global platform – the internet. “Disgusted, Tunbridge Wells” now lives in every nook and cranny of the world.
Parental incompetence and irresponsibility in sending kids to school unfed or in filthy clothes is excused on the grounds of poverty by stupid teachers.
As for the university dons, I am irresistibly reminded of loonies taking over the asylum to the detriment of the inmates.
Militant women are probably doing themselves great harm – as I am sure Barbara Castle, Margaret Thatcher and Betty Boothroyd would agree – by claiming privilege instead of a manifest ability to compete and perform at least as well as men.
Chief constables, as distinct from the ordinary copper, are failing fundamentally in their duty to enforce the law with the entirely predictable result that crime and murder are spiralling out of control. You know that they are candidates for the funny farm when they drop support for a male voice choir because it won’t admit women. Ye gods!
It comes as no surprise that they arrest – and then release – a 78-year-old chap on suspicion of murder after wounding one of two burglars invading his home.
Society is in the grip of a crippling malaise. The only thing that gives me hope is that within 100 years 18th century debauchery was followed by Victorian prudery.
By 2075, I expect we shall be showing signs of a return to sanity.