Dear Editors, 

I am struck by the relentless frequency of negative stories about how Britain is broken. Our elites are corrupt and out of touch; our institutions have been captured by an American cabal of identitarians and race baiters; our economy is moribund; the NHS is crumbling; our planning system is sclerotic; we are finished, over the hill, condemned to decline, either slow or precipitous, depending on your taste or news source. 

And yet, and yet: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

I have lived abroad for thirty years, bouncing between Hong Kong (pre-Xi) and the United States. During that time I managed only nine months in the UK in the (seemingly) halcyon days of Her late Majesty’s diamond jubilee and the London Olympics. As Wordsworth said: “Bliss was it, in that dawn, to be alive”. I read Jeremy Warner’s recent article about how things are not THAT bad, and I felt inspired: at last someone sees the country as I do

I moved my life back to the land of my birth because my father has recently entered a convalescent home at 95, and I wanted to spend – in the 90’s saying – more time with my family, having been the prodigal son, or at least a partially absent one.

Coming back after such a time presents many more difficulties than I had originally anticipated. Effectively one is a new immigrant, albeit with some record of previous British-based life. I had to register for council tax in order to have proof of residence. Once this had been achieved, I could open a bank account, get a mobile phone, register with a GP, start dental and other chronic health care, stop renting a car and lease one (though not in the conventional way), and get a new updated driver’s license at a post office (my overseas residency defeated the DVLA online process). At each stage, I was met with friendliness, courtesy, cooperation, and eventual success. I travel twice a week to Newcastle-upon-Tyne for my job, and Northern Rail has been reliable, polite, informative, and my refunds for lateness (twice in three and half months) are remitted to my account automatically; and I love the electronic tickets. Even my internet going down and British Gas’ appointment systems were dealt with.

I realise that I am lucky in that I am an educated, employed, white man, living in the family home in a relatively rural yet connected part of the country (West Cumbria). But the seamlessness of the website is unbelievable in comparison to the unconnectedness of the US. Of course, our health care system creaks and groans under an antediluvian funding model, but every interaction with my local health clinic or hospital in Newcastle, has been a day in the park in comparison with the twilight of US health care requiring job-based insurance or state or federal income-based programs. Don’t get me wrong: I got great care there, but it was a struggle. And that’s my point: although things took time, and I learned to have patience while things fell into place, here in the United Kingdom it wasn’t a struggle.

This is not to minimise or dismiss the real problems that are encountered by people every day. Dental appointments took a while, and were at a private clinic, and I am lucky my firm provides dental insurance (which I still contribute to). Cost of living issues, under-investment in housing and communities, lack of concern for one’s neighbours and vice versa, all make life harder and bleaker than it should be.
But my experiences belie the slough of despond that permeates the media, politics, the blob, and their quango attendants.

This is a country with beautiful countryside, shorelines, cities, towns and villages (I had no idea daffodils flowered in such profusion and longevity). We are a polite, commercial, tolerant, and forgiving people. I have had more friendly and good-hearted interactions with strangers in the past few months here, than I have for many years in the States outside my circle of friends and acquaintances across the Pond.

Our demise (and that of the monarchy at our country’s head) has long been prophesised, and yet the resilience, good nature, sense of humour, and genius will find a way through. Whether it was the overthrow of James II, the loss of the American colonies, June 1940, or even 1979, every time we have overcome the naysayers and found a way out of seemingly insurmountable problems.

I returned to my home apprehensive and naïve. I am happy to report that this is, indeed, Great Britain! 


Steve Rogerson

Who gets to define a “progressive”? 

Dear Editors,

“Progressive”, as in Humza Yousaf’s “progressive ideals” is a slippery concept. It suggests if not a desired endpoint, then certainly a direction of travel. If lowering the voting age from 18 to 16 constitutes a progressive measure (which its proponents in Scotland certainly suggested) then why stop there? Reduce it to 12? To 8? Why have a lower age at all? And would reducing the age of consent to, say, 13 constitute a progressive measure? If not, why not?

Regressive ideals are a much less slippery concept, because we’ve been there already. We know what they look like. 

And the curiosity is that the zeitgeist of so many so-called “progressives” looks distinctly regressive, like that of a pre-Enlightenment world, whether it’s the notions of true as opposed to ‘assigned’ gender redolent of a pre-scientific age, a sinister Medieval antisemitism or the apocalyptic visions of natural disaster visited upon us as a result of our sins, a notion straight out of the story of Noah. 

So, please, Reaction, if you have to use the word “progressive” (and I’m really not sure that you do), at least put it between quotation marks.

Nic Allen

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