Britain 2009: Annus Horribilis?

Wallowing in misery over this admittedly awful year betrays a lack of historical perspective, argues Derek Wilson.

In his Guardian column of September 10th, Simon Jenkins cited an international survey which showed that, in the rankings of each countries’ confidence in their national institutions, for their judiciary Britons came 16th; for their educational system 28th; for their police 33rd; for their politicians 41st; and for their bankers 126th. Such judgements reflect a growing tide of national pessimism.

The financial system, both in Britain and the wider world, has been enveloped in crisis, and Britain has seen jobs lost, firms fold and pension pots diminish, while bankers and MPs of all political stripes snuffle around in the trough, seemingly regardless of the common weal. Heaven forfend that those responsible should not be put in the stocks and made to endure being pelted by the public with verbal rotten eggs. But if, in our indignation at the excesses of a few, we talk ourselves into debilitating gloom we do ourselves a grave disservice.

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