‘We’re the worst in the world’: How Brits have got today’s crisis all wrong | Personal Finance | Finance

My grandparents were born when Queen Victoria was still on the throne and British power and prestige was at its zenith. 

My parents grew up in the 1930s, when the Empire shaded a quarter of the globe pink and everyone believed that British was best.

Our kids are growing up in a very different world today.

Today, nobody believes British is best, instead we believe with equal fervour that we’re worst at pretty much everything.

That attitude has hardened during the last torrid 15 months, and understandably so. At times, the nation has felt like a total basket case.

It’s certainly hard to be upbeat as millions are battered by the cost-of-living crisis and even face a stark choice between heating and eating.

Pensioners must wonder what happened to the prosperous country they grew up in, as they count their pitiful state pension, arguably the worst in the developed world.

Former Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-Budget last September felt like the last desperate throw of the dice, and it backfired horribly.

That was when we discovered who was really running the UK, and it wasn’t the government or EU.

So yes, I get the gloom.

There is also a danger of overdoing it. Since the war, the nation has gone from unthinking jingoism to equally unthinking declinism, and have overdone it on both occasions.

In focusing purely on our own challenges, we forget that almost every other country has it hard right now, too.

News that the UK actually avoided a recession in 2022 will have come as a shock to many and a disappointment to the doom-mongers.

As will news that the economy actually grew in January, by 0.3 percent, giving Jeremy Hunt a boost days before he delivers his Spring Budget on Wednesday 15 March.

Other figures show that our economic resilience far outweighs EU, despite remainer gloom over Brexit.

We’ve even been growing at a faster rate than EU powerhouse Germany.

House prices have crashed in countries are far apart in Australia, Sweden, New Zealand and even parts of the US.

The UK market has stood firm, at least so far.

The FTSE 100 is the best performing stock market in the world, recently hitting an all-time high of 8,000.

And while our politics has been a mess Rishi Sunak is getting a grip on the nation’s finances, sorting out the Northern Ireland protocol and tackling the migrant crisis.

Plus we were right when it really mattered, in Ukraine.

That’s in marked contrast to Germany and France, where Emmanuel Macron is still trying to push Ukrainian leader Volodymyr Zelensky into a shabby peace deal with Vladimir Putin.

READ MORE: I told you there was better economic news coming, and now it’s here

I don’t want to overdo it. I’m no unthinking jingoist. We only have to look at the HS2 fiasco to see that Britain is a long, long way from being best.

Or take a train, join an NHS waiting list, open an energy bill, brave one of our boarded-up high streets or nip into Tesco to buy a tomato.

These are tough times, as the world has been rattled by the financial crisis, Covid pandemic, Ukraine war and energy shock in short order.

Everybody is hurting. The French were a renowned as the most stylish people in the world but now spend most of their time parading about in yellow vests and gas masks.

Yet they still think they’re great.

I grew up in the 1970s, when the country was known as the sick man of Europe and plenty of Britons delighted in that description.

Things picked up, in time. They will do again.

Although even if they do, we’ll still be talking ourselves down. Like all bad habits, this one will prove hard to kick.

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