This England

The English have changed for the worse in recent years.

In the process of establishing a base in Italy, we’ve encountered scores of young Brits looking to start businesses there. This is bizarre – our Italian friends say Italy is an awful place to start a business and they start theirs in the UK.

Yet the young Brits keep moving out, lock stock and barrel, and many are succeeding. They say they feel alienated from their own country by un-assimilated immigrants, and can’t stand the “political correctness” of Brit officials.

So the UK is losing its bright, energetic, hopeful young people.

Doctor Theodore Dalrymple, the Hogarth of the our age, has a diagnosis:

My wife, who is French, was attracted to the culture of this country because, as late as 1979 or 1980, the people, including administrators in hospitals, were obviously upright, whatever else their failings might have been.

A quarter of a century later, all that has changed; deviousness, ruthlessness, an eye fixed on the main chance, sanctimony in the midst of obvious wrongdoing, toadying and bullying have become the ruling characteristics of the British people, or at least those of them who are in charge of something.

The old virtues – stoicism, honesty, fortitude, irony, good humour and so forth – can still be found, but only in people who are of no importance, at least in the public administration.

If I may put it very strongly, good people are like a defeated class in this country.

Dalrymple is describing the destruction of social capital.

The problem is not insoluble – the Victorians reversed an equally serious decay, producing the upright Brits that created most of the modern world. They did that because crime and corruption had reached levels unacceptable to them.

Let us hope modern Brits make a similar transition.

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