Having just spent a week in London with my grown-up daughter who is highly qualified and professional and in her late twenties, I can come to no other conclusion but that for my children's generation, the U.K. nowadays is nothing more than depressing. As a parent, some aspects appear to me to be nothing short of an outrage.
Over more than two decades ago, we saw the fall of the Berlin Wall which signalled the demise of socialism and less than a decade after that, capitalism was shaken to its very roots as a result of greed and malpractice owing to the loophole of a fundamental lack of regulation of the global financial system. Gordon Brown thus made the working population shoulder this ailing sector by means of a national debt the likes of which has not been seen since war-time Britain.
Basically, we experienced within a short space of time the failure of both socialism and capitalism. The continuity of the latter was assured by beleaguering a whole generation with few prospects on all important fronts such as property ownership and job security which for my parents the war-generation and for my generation i.e. the post-war generation were the norm.
'An Englishman's home is his castle' - well, all that is sadly now very passe! The vast majority of this generation have no prospect of getting onto the property ladder whatsoever thanks to the iniquitous practise of the banking sector which has used monies advanced by income earners and none other to underwrite their own securities and interests and pay out inflated bonuses to bosses. Just where are the politicians because this has nothing to do with democracy - 'demo' - I understand as representing the people? In my mind, the people going out to work to prop up this sham have every right across the entire political spectrum to bring down a Government over the issue. How do they get away with it?
Just how many young people can put down the required deposit to begin owning their own property without major big-time financial assistance from their elders? Better still, just what percentage of parents can afford to help them to the required level today? Justifiably and without further ado, banks should be subject to massive state intervention in order to oblige them to aid and advance their sole benefactors or creditors i.e. the people. Just who do the politicians think that they are fooling? Both my parents and I became property owners and today, we are coerced into thinking that progress is being made with Government performance and this whole austerity programme with the lamentable set of statistics given recently.
The situation in London compels this generation to rent at inflated prices with very little security in terms of tenure at the mercy of an unscrupulous capitalist doctrine with many other hangers-on the likes of which my generation thankfully have not experienced. Furthermore, this extends well beyond the London boundaries: I, who during the seventies and eighties climbed the property ladder on the south coast and was able to establish a good family dwelling for my wife and children, could nowadays no longer get started. Shame on the system which now only allows a small privileged minority to do the same! THIS SHOULD BE A MAJOR ELECTION ISSUE. Not only are my children's generation forced to give up the right to own their own property, they are faced with an ever mounting tide of a lack of job security and performance appraisal pressure and I am talking about professional people with degrees from top Universities. The ever increasing amount of bureaucracy created in the state sector in education, health-care and policing renders their efficacy severely weakened while investment in business has dried up owing to a lack of funding on the part of financial institutions. On all these fronts, entire volumes of fundamental 'critique' could be written. It is high time politicians were appraised on their performance. It is indeed very debatable whether Japan is not demonstrating a better alternative in terms of economic recovery which is far more beneficent towards its people.
Any student of Keynes knows that this austerity programme is not working. Just how can we pay back a debt long term by reducing income and spending power in terms of both the private and state purse? Comparing entire national economic policy underpinned by the skills of a whole generation with a private household budget is indeed a facile argument. The entrepreneurial esprit has been not just stifled but made almost extinct.
A change is well overdue and I am not talking party politics but a fundamentalist review of what democracy is supposed to mean. The current scenario opens up deep cracks in this respect and I as a retired parent but still a parent, am acutely aware that politicians are failing my children's generation. A whole new political agenda in terms of what Governments are obliged to deliver is urgently required. They have been left unchallenged for far too long and the only super-governmental body other than the ballot box to which we, the people can turn in terms of crisis (and for this generation of young people, it is indeed just that) is the Constitutional Monarchy! Her Majesty would do well in her constitutional role as protectorate of the salient features of our democracy if She were to insist that such issues be placed at the top of the agenda of the three major political parties. Indeed the time has come that pragmatic solutions were sought. Enough is enough!
As it is, the system is failing our young and I on their behalf, feel utterly deceived, disillusioned and let down.
Recent headlines serve well to illustrate the injustice being meted out to the British populous: Michael Gove's recent proposal that we should lengthen the school day and that teachers should be prepared to forfeit more of their holidays. Well I know that I am right in saying that within Europe, British teachers remain amongst the most dedicated with the smallest amount of holidays. Ask parents around the world who send their children to English International schools and they will tell you that English-trained teachers are more willing to give freely of their own free time than teaching staff in their own country. Furthermore why should we ape a system in far-flung parts of the world which have nothing to do with the social background and context of modern day Britain? Do they have a history of democracy like ours? More relative to the educational debate however is just why after endless controversial headlines in the media concerning this present Secretary of State for Education do we have such an incompetent, farcical, self-infatuated, pouting figure who looks more like an ageing, slimmed-down Billy Bunter directing pupils' education in the State sector and the teaching services in the 21st century? May The Lord give me strength!
Then, there is the matter of Mr. Iain Duncan Smith's attempt to take the moral high ground by urging better-off pensioners to relinquish their free bus passes and winter fuel allowance i.e. from people who in the majority of cases have paid into the public purse throughout their entire working lives. He aims no doubt to swell Government funds by a few measly coppers! No Mr. Iain Duncan Smith why don't you request the banking sector to return some of the ever mounting debt which they owe the public funds or even turn to some of the royal hangers-on who seem even today justified in asking for more?
As for the statement made by David Cameron's adviser Jesse Norman that the likes of Eton prepares you so much more for public service than other educational institutions, I have never read such smug nonsense in my entire life. Just to remind him, Mrs. Thatcher, whose service to the public at large resulted in her moving the whole political infrastructure to right of centre in consequence of the mayhem created by militant trade unions was the product of a STATE GRAMMAR SCHOOL. Ostensibly, she created New Labour headed by Tony Blair. Her educational background afforded her an innate understanding of what the wider public in terms of their aspirations hoped to achieve and her legacy is still appreciated by many both left and right of centre. How can these elitist institutions like Eton which are populated by none other than the offspring of those who can afford to pay large sums of money possibly know what the wider public is all about in order to realise their endeavours? That is surely what real public service is all about in government. From early childhood, they are protected from such exposure and such an institution can only pay what amounts to lip service to this end. Just what percentage of the pupils from Eton have parents who are local shopkeepers or have small businesses i.e. those who today cannot advance and progress one jot because of Government policy? The likes of Eton are there to serve and protect their own which reflects exactly what is happening in Britain today. The fact that ex-Eton scholars populate the Cabinet explains all too well why income earners are burdened with shoring up the City's major financial institutions without any recourse or advantage from their hard earned investment. Those with large funds behind them are reassured without further ado and can carry on as normal and are not affected and what is worse, in some instances, they are better off!
If the intentions of voters who identify themselves today with middle-ground politics and vote for David Cameron put such shiny-suited, mealy-mouthed ex-public school tricksters into power, then I think the electorate should re-assess what they hope to achieve when they put their cross on the ballot paper. Under Harold Wilson and Ted. Heath some of us, being products of State Education were privileged in the sixties to be awarded first-class scholarships to the best of higher education and we can see crystal clear just what is going on.
I am rapidly coming to the conclusion that this young working generation would undoubtedly be better-off in the new world. Especially if they are well qualified. They may have to pay for private health insurance but being young, in most cases this would be easily affordable as would be setting themselves up in their own home and taking care of the next generation i.e. our grandchildren. As it is, they have been made scapegoats in the U.K. for propping up a system which demonstrates increasing levels of corruption and which represents in some respects a flagrant breach of what democracy is intended to deliver to the people.
The media in The U.K. seem to lack a real sense of what I can only refer to as 'Zeitgeist' and the sooner some of these Public School brethren are shown the door, the better it will be for the majority of those who are daily footing the bill for the country's continued stability.