The opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympics was an outstanding statement of how Great Britain could be seen. Just as it was all to be undermined.
Industrial revolution (cities and towns developed hit by globalisation). NHS (fast appointments and abolition of the waiting list lost through austerity). Wide range of musical cultures (lost through pop star competitions). Innovation (creating the internet, more debatable).
A decade of austerity. Fundamentally stupid as it deflated the economy where working people had secure jobs. Removed services that people with greater needs valued. Recreating old problems of homelessness, poor housing and especially poor private sector landlords. Life expectancy starting to fall, with specific examples like poorer dental health. Directing money away from local economies to tax havens. A labour market that became casual and did not help communities expecting jobs for their own families.
Politics in a stale funk. Issues heralded as catastrophes. Loss of emphasis on the ability of government and collective provision to solve problems; rather emphasising individuals’ brilliance at a time when it had become mediocre through cliques and lack of national ambition. Heralding virtue and moral superiority, rather than understanding and problem solving.
When Leftists took over, still the catastrophes, the cliques, the celebration of individuals, who were actually worse at persuasion, leading to a result akin to 1983, without the excuse of being able to see we hadn’t seen a policy led campaign without focus and rehearsal fail before.
Some pockets of progress on real challenges – e.g. Nottingham on transport. But often in the cities whose relative advantages over towns were growing.
And then the hatred. A murdered MP. A social media that is unaccountable (bravery to smear and diminish others whilst being anonymous) and whose potential to bring us on has been lost. A culture reduced to blandness rather than being stretching. Enabling the 2016 EU referendum result that tears up our trading arrangements and creates the potential for the break-up of our union across the mainland and parts of Ireland. Further enabled by a political media that doesn’t value politics and unwilling to cll out actual poor political behaviour.
Meanwhile, the new challenges of saving the climate inadequately addressed even though the necessity spasmodically respected.
The ceremony – celebration of collective ambition and achievement; hope.
Our reality – huge inequality, quality of life for so many so badly diminished, tolerance of hatred.