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A broken country?

(235 Posts)
Whitewavemark2 Wed 09-Oct-19 07:50:24

Looking at all the political threads, with their content so often one of complete and irreconcilable difference, it has occurred to me that we live in a very different country to the one we were brought up in.

Post war and for the subsequent decades, we lived in a society which largely accepted common goals such as attitude to extreme politics, the welfare state and its attitude to the unemployed and those physically or mentally disabled, or the attitude to people displaced by war or famine, etc.

We all had the same common goals. Where we differed was how we achieved these goals, which manifested in the political parties. Tories a largely centre right party, whose philosophical outlook was one of paternalism known as “one nation Toryism” and Labour, a centre left party whose philosophical outlook had been built and later expanded, on the recognition that the urban working class needed political representation, in order to represent its interests.

Both main parties largely accepted common goals, like those listed above, the difference was as I said how they could be achieved.

But now I would argue this system is rapidly breaking down, because we can no longer agree on what our common goals are.

Everything is in flux and under question.

This is resulting in huge divides, hate, and a parliament that reflects society at large which is so divided it can’t agree on the big issue of the day let alone carry on as a Parliament should with running the country. It seems paralysed.

I feel unsettled and dismayed at what is happening.

I can’t see a good outcome.

Marydoll Wed 09-Oct-19 07:52:54

Good post, Whitewave! I feel like you and am in despair at what our country has become.

EllanVannin Wed 09-Oct-19 08:23:35

It's certainly not " Great " any more, that's for sure.
Once the envy of the world with our educational system and NHS----what went wrong ?

Callistemon Wed 09-Oct-19 08:27:11

I'm not so sure, *whitewave perhaps time comes with rose-tinted spectacles.

I remember that many of the disabled were hidden away in hospitals and homes; people who had a Down's Syndrome child were advised to put them into homes, forget about them and 'try again'. Horrible.
People were put into mental hospitals and forgotten.

To be 'on the dole' was a matter of shame, not an accepted reality for anyone who may fall on hard times.

Just because we were told by politicians that 'we'd never had it so good' didn't mean that most did.

My father lived and breathed politics (Labour) and was often despairing at what was happening - with politicians and with senior management in companies.

I'm not saying some things are better now, just different, and everyone has a lot more to say about it. We are not as gullible or accepting now as we were then.

Whitewavemark2 Wed 09-Oct-19 08:48:17

I’m not talking about inequality in my post but common goals

Gaunt47 Wed 09-Oct-19 08:59:53

I do agree with the poster on the whole, and there are many reasons for the disunity the poster senses.
But I would point out that there are approaching 20 million more of us on this little island since that post war period the poster mentioned. Would this very fact alone make it very difficult to agree on those common goals?

Whitewavemark2 Wed 09-Oct-19 09:03:47

callistemon that is exactly what I am saying, in a different way.

No one questioned then whether those disabled children should be looked after, where we differed was how.
No one questioned whether the unemployed were given a safety net, and so on from the way our economy is run, to refugees, immigration. NHS, on and on. There were always a tiny minority who did not accept what the country largely did accept, but these opinions were listened to but largely ignored. Enoch Powell is an example.

The consensus was accepted by the vast majority.

Now we apparently have no consensus on the biggest issues of our times.

The debate isn’t how, but whether.

Whitewavemark2 Wed 09-Oct-19 09:08:25


But don’t forget our economy has also grown enormously and the extra people are positively contributing to the economy.

Immigrants have never before had difficulty assimilating into the common goals, there is no reason why they shouldn’t do now. Everyone else presumably is born into the culture.

jura2 Wed 09-Oct-19 09:11:16

Yes, so sad, tragic even. And some a revelling in it all sad

Anniebach Wed 09-Oct-19 09:13:48

In the 50’s and 60’s racism was rife in this country

GracesGranMK3 Wed 09-Oct-19 09:18:43

We certainly seem to be very divided on the 'goals' you talk about Whitewave. I would agree with Callistemon that what we achieved could have been better done but that is really said with hindsight and it was actually better than what came before it.

Does the country as a whole have ANY goals? Do we have any agreement to improve the lives of anyone other than ourselves? It would be good to know even one goal we could agree on.

Gaunt47 Wed 09-Oct-19 09:21:31

WWM2, absolutely the economy has grown but I'm not sure that immigrants have ever assimilated entirely. The cities I knew: New York, Toronto, London have definable ghettos from where money is sent to 'home' countries since it's much easier now to send money abroad than post-WW2.
I just don't think peoples from different backgrounds can be expected to agree on common goals. Doesn't make them wrong, just different IMO.

Grandad1943 Wed 09-Oct-19 09:25:02

I believe that following the second world war there was a general consensus as to the basic principles that should be upheld in this country. The surprise election of the Clement Attlee Labour government in 1945 demonstrated the above and much social change was brought about by that hugely reforming administration.

However, even with the election of the Winston Churchill Conservative government of 1950 that administration changed little of the reforms that the Atlee government had brought forward.

That consensus of governance continued I feel until 1979 when the Thatcher administration began the dismantling of the "social fabric" that had prevailed in Britain for more than thirty-five years.

Those changes (such as the selling off of the council housing stock) have in many instances taken almost three decades to manifest their true impact, but in that, we see the roots of the present housing crisis, the growing inequality of incomes and very much more.

The Brexit crisis has I feel only exaggerated the growing social and political diversions that were already within Britain, and in a nation which has no underlying agreed social foundation standards, that is a very dangerous route to be travelling.

MaizieD Wed 09-Oct-19 09:26:16

I don't think that the period when we had 'common goals' really lasted very long. It started to die when Thatcher was elected in 1979; when she was continually re-elected the decline accelerated. That she was continually re-elected indicates to me that 'consensus' didn't really exist very strongly..

grapefruitpip Wed 09-Oct-19 09:27:15

Agree WW and young people are bored stupid by it all.....who can blame them?

Lazigirl Wed 09-Oct-19 09:33:54

I agree with your evaluation Ww. I think many European countries are also going through a similar state of flux. The big game changer I think has been the Internet, where for example, people can readily communicate with those with similar views, however minor or extreme, and under a veil of anonymity can post whatever they like. News is instant and 24 hour and heads of state can announce major policies via tweets. We are now in uncharted territory!

Gaunt47 Wed 09-Oct-19 09:37:12

G1943 & MD - I wonder if the cracks in society didn't begin further back in the 1970s? That, for me, is when disillusionment with 'the system' and the betrayal of the electorate by successive incompetent governments, started to be noted.

Fiachna50 Wed 09-Oct-19 09:38:38

Very good post grandad. For myself I now live in a divided country (Scotland). I could weep when I see the state it is in. The march at the weekend shows just how divided it has become. I am born and live in Scotland and now avoid anything political like the plague. This definitely is not the same country I grew up in. Thats all I will say in a public forum.

Bridgeit Wed 09-Oct-19 09:47:31

We were led to believe that more council houses would be built with the money accrued from right to buy sales for folks who choose the option to do so ..... it never happened, certainly not in the numbers & way it was presented .

growstuff Wed 09-Oct-19 09:54:24

I agree that Thatcher's election marked a change in the direction the country was heading. However, the 1970s Callaghan and Heath governments were chaotic and, despite the horrendous things Thatcher did, maybe it was inevitable that a single-minded leader won the day.

I agree with those who don't think the past was all that rosy, although I also think that we're part of something, which is quite deliberately trying to undermine established systems.

CrazyGrandma2 Wed 09-Oct-19 09:57:08

Spot on Grandad1943.

Authoress Wed 09-Oct-19 10:01:34

What's the remedy? A common enemy? Getting behind the push to control climate change might work??

Davidhs Wed 09-Oct-19 10:02:25

It’s happening across the globe, discontent with the established system, the Arab Spring, Gillette Jaune, Trump in the US and Brexit in the U.K. A large part of the population are discontented with their “lot” and want change, with change brings uncertainty because more extra spending on social issues needs either more borrowing or more taxation.

The U.K. with very large open ended social commitments is in a difficult position, national growth is close to zero, many businesses large and small are not making much money. A large number are foreign owned anyway, so who is going to lend to us and at what interest rate?. That cost will be passed on to the population in general and future generations, the U.K. will need to work much harder to repay the debt.

Grandad1943 Wed 09-Oct-19 10:04:26

Gaunt47, in regard to your post @09:37 today, it should be remembered that following 1945 until the early 1980s Britain very successfully transformed itself from a worldwide imperial power into a worldwide economic power.

That transformation was carried out without the large social unrest that was witnessed in other former imperial powers such as France. The forgoing I feel is a tribute to Britains government(s) both Labour and Conservative that prevailed during that period, for no other nation throughout history has peacefully and successfully made such a transformation as that which Britain achieved.

The above achievement I believe could only be carried out due to both major political parties having an underlying agreed social and economic standard which made up Britains social fabric during those years of huge national change.

polnan Wed 09-Oct-19 10:05:20

I think I may be on the same wavelength as Gaunt47

I often think of what Mrs. Thatcher did to our communities

I do not think it was a good idea to sell of council houses and now it has gone even further,,,certainly the sense of community is very hard to find now.

programme on tv of some new houses built , specifically for people who needed social housing,, with architect designed area to encourage safe playing outside for the children, and a sense of community

comment made , of course, will be sold off to anyone who can afford to by...... so very sad...imo