Anglo-Saxon apathay

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Anglo-Saxon apathay

There’s been a lot of tutting and rolling of eyes back across the channel in response to the wave of protests taking place on the continent, both for the austerity cuts and the raising of the retirement age from 60 to 62 in France.

This is because the British believe that protest makes no difference to the end result, as it often ignores the ‘hard economic realities’ of the situation. Christian Fraser of the BBC recently contributed to Radio 4’s “from our own correspondent” with a typically British view of the situation in France.

Yet flipping through the news on the very same website I stumbled across an article by Peter Cunliffe-Jones which argues that protest and pressure do lead to real change.  The fact that the immediate net result is rarely tangible however is neither here nor there.  Nigeria and Indonesia both won independence from their colonial masters at around the same time – yet today Indonesia is economically miles ahead of their African counterparts. The reason PCG supposes is down to the Indonesian people constantly putting pressure on their leaders to deliver change for the benefit of the people. This is a concept that the French also believe in vehemently and one that the British patently do not.

Speaking as someone who pays a frankly crippling proportion of their earnings into the state pension fund I find it insulting that the French leadership and many British commentators believe that two years is really no big deal.

The reality is – it is the thin end of the wedge, and the French people know if they let this one go without a fight – they will be steamrollered in the same way the apathetic British are every day of their lives.

It is the British who wake up today to find their country devoid of public services and national assets, with it’s health, transport, agriculture and education sectors on the verge of collapse, where most people have little to look forward to even after their retirement at 67 as the country’s pension crisis deepens thanks to serial incompetence on the part of successive governments!

Yet it is the British who believe that protesting and standing-up for your rights is in some way counter-productive!?!

Tut! (rolls eyes, shakes head)

By | 2010-10-03T10:51:27+00:00 October 3rd, 2010|Life in England, Life in France|2 Comments

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2 Comments

  1. Nick October 9, 2010 at 7:36 am - Reply

    Tutting… how British 🙂

    Actually I don’t think we are resigned to our fate, I think there is just a collective sticking-our-fingers-in-our-ears-going-la-la-la at the moment. Once the true scale of what’s happening becomes clear people will become energised, although as we’re all individuals now it’s sadly more likely to focus on what affects people’s own lives. There was an enormous amount of protest the last time this happened, under Thatcher – against pit closures, against nuclear weapons (I went on a few of those) and other aspects of government policy. I’m sure they had an effect although we still have the bomb as far as I know. And recently, what about the Iraq demonstrations, or the G20 one?

    Of course nowadays there are other, arguably more effective forms of protest, over the Internet or via the newspapers. Look at the furore over rich people’s child benefit that’s kicking off now. Maybe that’s how it will be organised – lazy young people who can’t be bothered to get off their arses to march around the centre of London go on Facebook instead 🙂

  2. Englishman October 12, 2010 at 9:26 am - Reply

    Fair comment Nick, but while anti-war, anti-capitalism and anti-anti-hunt protests are indeed recent examples of the British getting off their butts to protest about something, unfortunately none of these causes have any real bearing on daily life in Britain.

    The unfortunate reality is that lobbying is more effective than any petitioning (be it online or otherwise) and as this has money ploughed into it by giant international corporations, it is rarely the just cause that wins at the end of the day. (If you ask me it’s an accepted form of political corruption that Joe Public is blind to.)

    Which leaves the press as the only real forum for publicised protest – but again with almost all of the national dailies relying on corporate cash to fund their editorial departments – is it any wonder that politicians don’t take the blindest bit of notice?

    Nothing beats bringing the country to a standstill for a day to highlight the issues – and no amount of e-protest will ever be as effective.

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