My reporting has ranged over countless other scandals in the past two decades, from the rise of the health and safety culture to the disastrous mishandling of the foot-and-mouth crisis, from the wind farm scam to the asbestos scare, from the ever-expanding powers of the EU to the destruction of our Armed Forces.I wonder. It seems too easy to blame the deus ex machina of the EU. My own observations, made with the advantage of periodically returning from long periods abroad to get an "as others see us" view of British society, were that the country was becoming more and more like the third world countries I was travelling from - and that was before the surrenders of sovereignty that Booker laments. Rudyard Kipling expressed it well:
All this amounted to a mutation in the nature of our governance. And the consequence is that we are now ruled by a vast maze of bureaucratic structures, not answerable to Parliament, operating at every level, from Brussels down to the town halls and a plethora of executive agencies. The power of elected politicians at all levels of government has been immeasurably diminished – which is one reason why they are now held in such contempt by the public.
The dead hand of this system now stretches into almost every area of life, not just sapping businesses but exercising its grip over the NHS, the education system, the police and much more besides. And the most striking thing about this new presence in our lives is how it lives by its own peculiar values, talking only in its own stultifying jargon, unable to relate to the real world. Common sense, like democratic accountability, has gone out of the window.
The system damages all it touches, which is why it lands us with one disaster after another, from the pointless destruction of billions of fish to the shambles it has made of our rubbish collection; from the skewing of our energy policy in favour of useless windmills to the way our family courts have turned every principle of justice on its head to allow politically correct social workers to seize children from loving parents.
All along o' dirtiness, all along o' mess,Except - Kipling was contrasting the slovenliness of the "natives" with the discipline of the British soldier. He could not have imagined that the British would become an international by-word for the sluttishness of their women, the drunken brutality of their men and the foul behaviour of their children. Or that the "natives" would come to regard British politicians and civil servants with amused contempt.
All along o' doin' things rather-more-or-less
Liberty cannot exist without at least the aspiration of virtue. That's gone, and we did it to ourselves. The EU has simply moved into the space left by the erosion of self-discipline, self-respect, honour and courage in our leaders and, by extension, the society that elects them.