The Government – which increasingly seems to live in an entirely different world to the rest of us – is making disapproving clucking noises about the amount of depression prevalent in the population, which they doubtless consider entirely unjustified in view of all the blessings of cackhanded administration they shower upon us. Schemes are afoot to provide thousands of hastily-trained therapists [all of twelve weeks!] to remedy this situation; and not content with that, we are now being regaled with proposals to incorporate ‘lessons in happiness’ into schools!
Just how miserable and worried people can be coaxed, commanded or dragooned into being jolly and carefree on the say-so of government ministers and bureaucrats escapes me. If many people are becoming increasingly depressed these days it is just possibly because there is plenty to be worried about. And not only worried, but frightened. In fact, I cannot remember a time since the 1930s of my childhood when people were so preoccupied and dismayed about the world situation and its possible knock-on effects. Even during the Cold War, with its recurring crisis points such as Suez–Hungary and Cuban missiles, feelings that impending doom is a likely possibility were not nearly as widespread as they are today.
Yet our Walter Mitty [“I did it My Way”] retiring-at-a-snailspace Prime Minister – one of the most self-deluded characters ever to have occupied 10 Downing Street – tells us that Britain is “a country comfortable in the 21st Century, at home in its own skin, able not just to be proud of its past but also confident of its future”. If he believes that, he would believe anything. The trouble is that he does believe whatever he chooses, against all the evidence. This, presumably, is a quality of mind bestowed upon him by the ‘gift’ of Faith.
Blair’s policy of ‘liberal interventionism’ smacks of hubris even more than the wild-eyed religiosity of William Gladstone. Practically everyone – even those who still won’t admit it – knows that his cosying up to the wacky Bush-wacking Administration’s
Before the attack on
As a consequence of what many of us regard as the government’s misguided - and sometimes deliberately misleading - approach to these and many other matters, there has been a sharp erosion of trust: between citizens and government, between different sections of the community, and often between individuals. The air is filled with harsh and strident voices talking past each other and shouting one another down. This itself is dismaying. I cannot remember a time when public discourse and argument was more irritable, and often downright bad-tempered, than it is today. This alone gives the lie to Blair’s fantasy of a ‘comfortable’ country.
The fact is, people no longer feel as secure, in their own lives and homes, as they used to. The government does not help by continually issuing fleshcreeping warnings about the high risks of terrorist attacks – or by its unprecedented onslaught upon our traditional and hitherto much cherished civil liberties [“yesterday’s concept”, as the Prime Minister airily dismissed them]. Ostensibly to ‘protect’ us against terrorism, the Blair government has ushered in a snooper’s society in which we are continually watched by umpteen CCTV cameras, are apparently soon to be assailed by the amplified voices of invisible watchers ticking us off if we drop litter in the street, and in the not far distant future are likely to be compulsorily fitted with ‘smart chips’ so that our whereabouts and doings will be ceaselessly monitored.
I for one find this prospect not only highly alarming but deeply depressing. I don’t want or need to talk to a quarter-trained ‘therapist’ about my perfectly realistic fears and indignation: I want a political sea-change which will bring about a U-turn in these imbecile antics of our ‘rulers’.
Any hope from Gloomy Gordon? Don’t make me laugh. But cheer up – you’d better, or they’ll slap an ASBO on you.