If a recent report is to be believed, it turns out a lot of people in their fifties and sixties are turning up in accident and emergency wards after getting drunk. The BBC headline is a bit misleading while being literally true. It is worded to imply these oldies but boldies are the victims of assault and that alcohol is the cause. This is belied by the actual text. “[Researchers] suggested some older binge drinkers were still behaving as they did when younger, in the 1980s and 1990s.”
So to put it bluntly, old gits are getting drunk and picking into fights.
It is a fact of life that many people don’t change that much as they get older. We pick up habits and stick to them. We are also conditioned by are experiences. It’s a bit like the way cinemas used to operate. You turned up whenever and bought a ticket. You could then walk in and watch the film from whatever point it had reached. You were free to stay as long as you liked. So if you got there twenty minutes late you could sit in for that much of the next showing. This was done commonly enough for the phrase “this is where we came in” to become a cliché.
Let’s have a look at where someone born in 1960 came in. Keynesian demand management was delivering close to full employment. Social security payments were an adequate if not a generous backup if things went wrong. There was a by now well established National Health Service. Free education meant people from any background could realistically aspire to achieve any role.
The economy around the world was growing so there were many opportunities that this generation could access with their good health and education. This was made even easier by advances in communication and travel. Basically this was a generation that had every conceivable advantage that they could possibly have. And yet many of them chose to turn their backs on the social democratic consensus that followed the war and support free market anti-social political projects that ostensibly were about individual choices and incentives. It is easy to be reckless about the future when you are comfortable right now, and boy were they ever. The ultimate example of shortsightedness was of course the UK giving up all the work it had put in to building the European Union. To be sure, like every other organisation created by flawed human beings, the EU isn’t perfect. But it has delivered peace, prosperity and convenience – so it’s got a pretty positive balance sheet.
This latest story indicates that the short sightedness extends further than just their attitudes to politics. They seem to be equally likely to live for the day and to give little thought to the effects time is having on their bodies. So they are still going on benders and losing all self control. They might still have the money, but they no longer have the powers of recuperation of their younger selves.
So they end up in accident and emergency. They no doubt tell themselves that this is because they are great ‘characters’. The reality is they are just being a burden on the institution that the generation before them created and the generation after them is staffing.
I wouldn’t be without conservatives. They are on the whole decent people, or at least they are as decent as non-conservatives. I have never noticed the slightest difference between conservatives and liberals when it comes to honesty, intelligence or general likability. You certainly can’t tell whether somebody is a conservative or not just by what they say or do at any rate.
This book is basically a polemic. Its thesis is simple. Britain has failed to make the most of its relationship with the rest of the European Union because from the very start it has underestimated the resolve of the other members to make the project work. Consequently the various initiatives and developments over the years have been met with lukewarm approval at best. Britain has been content to snipe from sidelines in the belief that whatever was being proposed was going to fail anyway. Why get worked up about things that are never going to happen? So we end up outside some of the most beneficial aspects of the project. We don’t enjoy the stability of the single currency. We opt out of some of the social protections. We don’t even save ourselves some bother by joining the passport free zone.
During the 2017 General Election I happened to be driving through Hastings, a town I know well and lived in for a few years. I was surprised to see a large group of Labour canvassers out in a fairly Tory part of the town. Hastings has gone Labour in the past but it was far from being an obvious target. I concluded that the folk I saw were enthusiastic but perhaps a little too optimistic. After all the media was assuring us that far from picking up places like Hastings Labour was on course to lose out badly. In fact one union leader set the bar pretty low by saying that if Labour only lost 20 seats it would be an acceptable result. Continue reading Labour – The Summer That Changed Everything BBC2 20/11/17
Elections can often be dramatic and unpredictable events. But they are often soul destroying and boring as well. The UK’s 2015 one was just dispiriting. The referendum on the EU was not much fun either. And when Theresa May called her snap election in 2017 it looked like it would simply be the worse possible example of the genre. Continue reading Betting The House by Tim Ross
I don’t think it is a great idea to use historical parallels as a guide to present day actions. Just because things played out a particular way back then there’s no reason they should do so again in the same way. And worse than that, historical parallels can be very bad guides to action. For example, the British Prime Minister Anthony Eden described Egyptian president Nasser as another Hitler to justify invading Egypt to take control of the Suez canal. Continue reading Trump Isn’t Hitler. He Is Augustus. And That Is Nearly As Bad
In Victorian Britain married women were firmly under the control of men. They were obliged to be obedient to their husbands and could not own property independent of him. Okay it sounds great in theory, but how did it actually work?Continue reading He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope
I am interested in politics, but I don’t follow the day to day political coverage very much. I do have the occasional binge. I get caught up sometimes in a big story like an election or a big scandal. But this is pretty much like someone who has got their eating disorder under control having the odd relapse. A daily diet of news stories spun by the politicians themselves and filtered through a media owned by vested interests is much like eating fast food. It feeds a craving, and you enjoy it at the time, but doesn’t really give you what you need. Continue reading The View From The Foothills by Chris Mullin
This is an unedited first draft – I’ll tidy it up later.
I am very impatient about Brexit. I really want the process to start and to get us outside of the EU as quickly as possible. My reasoning for this is quite simple. I want to get back in. At the moment if you complain about leaving the EU when the decision has been made to leave it you sound a bit pathetic. The argument has been had and my side has lost it. It is quite reasonable for people to say we should move on. And indeed we should. I am not looking forward to leaving, but it does have the consolation that when we are outside people campaigning to get back in will be the radical outsiders and the outers will be the establishment. (Actually I think they always were the establishment, but being opposed to the status quo gave them a sort of faux radicalism.) Continue reading Why Is Brexit Taking So Long? Five Whys.
A book I read a long time ago suddenly seems more interesting than it has for many years. Back in 1985 I was a Labour Party activist. I had other things on my mind at the time and it wasn”t a huge part of my life in the way that it was for some of the other activists I met. But I went to meetings. I was briefly a secretary of a ward branch (sounds a lot more important than it actually was). I used to go out leafletting and canvassing. And this being the eighties, I was also involved in internal party debates.Continue reading Militant by Michael Crick