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James Gray, MP for North Wiltshire
3:00pm Thursday 17th January 2013 in News
So it’s back to ‘old clothes and porridge’. The festive season is a dim and receding memory; the parties over, the credit card bills thumping onto the mat; the trees are bare, the days short and gloomy. The economy is stubbornly refusing to grow. Immigration, spending cuts, law and order issues, the environment being wrecked.
Old Jock Fraser in Dad’s Army would be in his element: “Ye’re all doomed,” he would incant. And maybe he’s right.
Or maybe he isn’t. There is so much to be glad about. The US has backed off its self-created fiscal cliff; the Eurozone seems stabler than for a while; more people are now employed in the UK than they ever have been in history.
We are clobbering benefit cheats, reforming our education system, handing control of the NHS back to doctors and away from bureaucrats. We are taking the poorest paid people in society out of the tax system altogether.
We, in Britain, may be suffering from a post-New Year hangover but we are so lucky to be able to afford the kind of festive activities which caused it in the first place!
A billion people in the world – most of us included – go to bed every night overfed; while a billion others go to bed starving. We have remarkable prosperity in this country by comparison with most parts of the world. And sometimes it is worth reminding ourselves that that is the case.
It’s rather like the weather, or the cricket scores. We Brits like a little groan over it; but we know in our heart of hearts that we prefer a damp British drizzle to Sahara heat or Arctic cold. We complain about traffic congestion, but realise how lucky we are to have cars and decent roads to drive them on; we complain about the poor TV schedules, but actually should be grateful for the 50 or so free-to-view channels we enjoy; we complain about our schools and hospitals, but actually secretly admit that they are amongst the finest in the world. People across Africa, India, the Middle and Far East would give anything for health and education half as decent.
And it’s the same with politics and government. We like to have a go at our MPs and at the Government. Yet even having a go at some of these national and international issues, throwing a few verbal snowballs at passing politicians is actually a sacred right which we enjoy in this free liberal democracy of ours, and which people across the world are losing their lives fighting to achieve.
So old Jock Fraser is wrong. But we do need to be reminded of how fortunate we really are.