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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

I mad as hell and I'm not going to take this anymore

I spent today visiting primary schools in Birmingham and a conversation with one of the amazing headteachers I am fortunate enough to employ reminded me of a spoof British values piece I had written over two years ago which I dug out to share with her.

Re-reading something I had written before I had begun to entertain the possibility of Brexit or a Trump candidacy, let alone presidency, scared the hell out of me as to how we had managed to slip so far and so fast.

The piece was written in response to a challenge that I should write a statement of British values for the website of the charity that I run and it went like this,

"17th October 2014

The Elliot Foundation is committed to promoting the core values of Britishness which are clearly demonstrated by our current government
  • Arrogance - everything good has happened because we made it happen and everything bad was someone else's fault (either foreigners or Marxists, who are everywhere)
  • Narcissism - we are brilliant and the best and if only everyone else was more like us the world would be a better place
  • Xenophobia - there is no problem big or small that cannot be blamed upon bloody foreigners (see above arrogance)
  • Self interest - we will pontificate about others not following our example whilst shamelessly filling our pockets when we think no one is looking
  • Laziness - never do anything positive or productive when you could spend the time moaning and blaming someone else for the problem"
It doesn't read like a tongue in cheek satire of needless bureaucracy.  It reads like a playbook for global politics over the last two years. On reflection, I think that it is the triumph of individualism.  Margaret Thatcher famously said, "There is no such thing as society, there are individual men and women and there are families".  Well if that's what you think, today's society is what you get.  

If only we could invert the values above as an aspiration for our leaders.  Simply taking the opposites of the words above would be a good start.

Humility
Selflessness
Openness
Compassion
Hard work

But aside from Canada, can you think of a single country that is heading in this direction.

In the words of Peter Finch in the Sidney Lumet masterpiece, Network, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!"