As Hemingway's hero Jake Barnes says at the end of The Sun Also Rises, "Wouldn't it be nice to think so?"
I'm a member of the choir Martin Durkin was preaching to, but I do not share his optimism that the British people would rebound if the crushing burden of statism were lifted from their backs.
They - the British people - have voted enthusiastically for every increase in the Welfare State and have furiously resisted every effort to shrink it. There is no constituency - none - for a small state if it means giving up the smallest part of whatever "entitlement" each enjoys.
All generalizations are falsifiable, but the salient characteristics of the British as seen by other nationalities is that they are lazy, drunken, undisciplined and unable either to think things through or to do anything thoroughly. Oh yes - and unconscionably self-satisfied and conceited.
It is WAY too easy to blame it on the politicians and on the bureaucrats. Agreed, they do little but make things worse - but they are made in Britain, respectively elected and selected to lead this society.
Consider for a moment what would happen to any politician who told the Great British Public the truth about itself, and then explain how democratic change can possibly come about. Britain's biggest export for centuries has been its most ambitious and talented people, seeking fulfillment almost anywhere else on earth.
Nobody imposed our over-priced and under-performing institutions on us. They have evolved in response to the expectations of an envy-rotted society where popular pressure for many generations, from the school-yard to House of Commons, has been to level down.
The most withering judgment was delivered by the most popular prime minister in British history, who saw the country as something to be traded for his personal advancement, and whose administration "created" hundreds of thousands of statist jobs - and had to fill them mainly with immigrants.