The Britain of a age past still lingers in some aspects of the nation's daily life.
The Britain of a age past still lingers in some aspects of the nation's daily life. Pomp and pageantry harks back to and era when the British Empire was far-flung and pageantry harks back to an era when the British Empire was far-flung and all-powerful. But the Empire has dwindled and the power depleted. Many Britons, however, continue to pursue the high-life of days past, but with their freer society, demand more for less effort.
Lord Rothechild, head of the British Government's "Think Tank", an advisory papel, recently warned that the nation was heading for a big fall unless it began to think straight. By 1965, he predicted, if things carried on as at present, Britain would be one of the poorest nations in Europe - a role never before considered for "Mighty Britain".
Lord Rothchild's omen of disaster was immediately refuted by Prime Minister Edward Heath, his Cabinet and the majority of Right Wing political opinion.
Still, Lord Rothschild stuck to his guns. The Britain of the 1970's is a vastly different place to that of its days of glory. Strickes, work-to-rules, big spending, spiralling prices, easy-to-come-by loans, high interest rates - all coupled with unemployment and, according to overseas views, a general apathy for hard work; these are the symptoms which lead some to describe Britain as a country with a deficit wish.
As part of the European Economic Community, Britain was expected to play a leading role. This has yet to manifest itself after almost one year's membership. The clamber back up form a war-torn, financially unstable country has become a slow, hard crawl which cannot keep pace with the economy of other powers.
Almost everyone in the United Kingdom wants to share in the good life still roundly available to the few. Expensive motor cars, exclusive restaurants, vacations to far-away places, consumer goods a-plenty in every British city these are to be seen, bought and enjoyed. Very few can have all of them, but the majority try their hardest to share as many as they can.
During the reign of Queen Victoria - the epitome of that Britain of the past - almost everyone "Knew their place". The class structure was clearly defined rigorously maintained. The standard of life set by the Upper Classes was high. For the less fortunate chore was almost ready acceptance of a life-style demanding hard work, long hours, minimal rewards and considerable deference to those who wielded power and influence.
That's very much past history now. The class atruclurs has virtually been wiped out together with the selfish-like deference. Some believe modern Britain is the whiplash result of those "bad old days". The now almost general acceptance of social dependency for an ever increasing number, coupled with the craving for the luxuries of life and an insatiable requirement by workers to earn higher wages for fewer man-hours - these are some of the situations pushing the country towards a stalemate of lower productivity and Government wage controls.
In the past 10 years, the country has gradually slipped form the first rank to one of the lower echelons in Western Europe. While the international and national growth rate has lagged behind other countries, wage costs per unit of output have risen rapidly; faster than those of any other major industrial country.
It cannot go on, warn economists. But the public at large, in the words of one observer, are experiencing the "struthonian effect" - "struthio" is Latin for Ostrich.
So, the spending goes on. Cars, colour television sets, expensive clothes, foreign holidays - everything can be bought, and is, mainly on credit. It's easy to borrow, but with astronomic interest rates, getting harder to pay back.
The British Tory Government believes the country is on the road to prosperity - a hard, long haul with success at the end. Many Unionists and left-wingers diengee, offering varying solutions, including quitting the European Common Market. But ultimately, the nation's fate reacts solely in the hands of its people.
SYNOPSIS: The Britain of an age past still lingers on. Pomp and pageantry hark back to an era when the Empire was far-flung and all-powerful. Those were the days of Queen Victoria - a stein rule with everything in its proper place. But times have changed. Britain's freer society freewheel too much according to critics. Unpunctuality and absenteeism account for considerable lost man-hours annually. Recently, Lord Rothschild, head of the Government's advisory panel, warned that unless the nation pulled up its socks and got out of the doldrums, then by 1985 the country would be one of the poorest in Europe. Prime Minister Heath hotly denied this. But, while many already experience a degree of poverty, and this is particularly prevalent amongst the sped, there are those indulging in a spending-spree. Store windows boast an array of luxury goods with high price tags.
Care are expensive to buy; taxis costly to hire. Yet city streets are daily jammed with private vehicles and cabs. Money is readily available to borrowers. Paying it back is the problem. Strikes and public demonstrations by workers are commonplace. More money is often the sole reason - shorter hours and more benefits are others. The minority who can afford to, live well. Chauffeurs, the best cars, famed restaurants are part of daily life for those few. The less fortunate look on, often with envy.
But every lunchtime for the average Briton is a time for beer, or even wine in the local pub near their office or factory. While they can't afford outright high-living, they try to get as close to it as possible. The pub comes as near to the exclusive dining and residential clubs of the truly wealthy as the ordinary man can hope for. That doesn't mean that he or she can't often achieve the best. Almost everyone wants to share the high life readily available to the few.
So they upend and, as they spend, demand hither wager wages to pay for luxuries - and the escalating cost of lining. Unemployment in Britain runs at close to one million. In past 10 years, the country has slipped form first rank to one of the lower echelons in Western Europe. The uneven economy cannot go on warn economists. Yet the public, in general, in the words of one observer, are experiencing the "structhonian affect" - "atruthio" is Latin for Ostrich. This is not apparently true among some immigrant groups in Britain, who work long hours and keep stores open until there are no more customers. The Government believes the country is on the read to prosperity. Many disagree. The future prosperity or otherwise for these youngsters rests with the people of Britain now.