15th July 2011. Modern Britain.
In Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892) by Oscar Wilde it was said: ‘a cynic is one who knows the price of everything and the value of nothing’.
If cynicism is prevalent in the new millennium in Britain it reflects the many failings and problems experienced in many sectors of society, one of which culminated Today, St Swithan’s Day in 2011, in the resignation of Rebekah Brooks, Chief Officer of News International.
The previous Sunday the News of the World, one of the many papers of the Group, after 168 years, was unceremoniously closed down after the extent of the scandal of phone-hacking became apparent. This had involved journalists and editors of many companies, but also embraced the police, and on the social periphery, Prime Ministers Gordon Brown and David Cameron.
The respected journalist, Max Hastings, in the Daily Mail wrote: ‘Our great institutions are becoming tainted by venality and incompetence, where are the leaders of integrity when we need them‘? He went on:
‘The resignation of Brooks is part of a wider scandal involving senior police and Cameron’s government. It is the latest of blows which have been grumbling for years to explode with the banking crisis in 2008 revealing a catalogue of greed, general nastiness and incompetence’.
Then came the Parliamentary expenses scandal when MP.s were exposed in claiming thousands of pounds in bogus claims which was followed by the resignation of the Commons’ Speaker. The Civil Service no longer taking the cream of the intellects had no ‘Sir Humphreys’ to control the errant Ministers.(1)
The nexus between companies and employees has disappeared as big corporations become distantly owned, whilst the small employer flounders in rules and bureaucracy from the European Union (EU), as well as battling against the home-grown culture of ‘elf and safety’.
Local-Government spends money as though it has gone from fashion with salaries and ‘pay-offs’ for Chief and other Officers, where tenure changes with the wind. Where once local Councillors were public spirited and claimed modest expenses, now they have expanded into expensive ‘Cabinets’.
The National Health Service for many years held up as one of the wonders of post-war social improvement, now staggers from crisis to crisis, whilst the Judiciary have to interpret legislation against a backdrop of EU laws on bogus Human Rights.
Authority figures were once respected because they had, well… Authority; now its a case of top-down interference and it’s all about survival. Drugs, knife-crime and raids on post-offices are a daily occurrence, and that’s just in the Author’s ‘backyard’.
At least we are living longer and as always we make of life what we will and who would like to go back to the ‘Good Old Days’.
(1) Sir Humphrey was the senior civil-servant in BBC’s, ‘Yes Minister’.