I was a keen young theater- goer at the time when Lionel Bart was filling London show-houses with his hits. I saw Fings two or three times and it struck a chord then but my appreciation of the words of the song is stronger now when I view just what we have lost since my youth.
My belief is that we started to lose our way in the years immediately after the 39-45 War. We had seen the way the American GIs went about things and became fascinated with the American way of life. For them it worked. USA was a very diverse place with cultures and life styles from all the poor and oppressed that flooded in through the piers of Ellis Island. We did not have this; we had been nett exporters of poor and oppressed from Highland clearances and potato blight. Slowly but surely we became the 49th State. Our cars began to look American, we ate Spam, ballroom became rock and roll, the streets started to be paved with chewing gum and nylons covered chilblain blotches. It did not stop there. American management styles came to the workplace. Automation.
We have not handled the changes very well. We had other matters on our mind. Our colonial heritage was being dismantled. Iron Curtains and Cold Wars. Our place in world affairs was surrendered bit by bit to The United Nations; one of whose charters was to encourage respect for each other’s rights and freedoms. Action that we had entrusted to a District officer responsible for many square miles of African real estate now became the subject of endless discussion at the UN. This loss of our status was added to by the influences of the European Court of Human Rights and the stresses and strains of the Eurozone. We have gone from a plastic America to an invertebrate worm.
The first duty of Government is the defence of the realm. What was supposed to be a review of likely demands upon our armed forces and how these would be met turned into a financial compromise. Delivery times on new ships were extended regardless of developments likely to increase the killing power of new weapons. The cost of the Army was used to determine how many personnel we could afford and not how many we might need to counter an unknown threat. We have troops on operations allegedly entered into so as to reduce the risk of terrorism on our streets. Lives are being lost and ruined but we still suffer home-grown terrorism such as the 7/7 explosions on London transport services which were planned and executed without our intelligence or police forces becoming aware of what was afoot. Our efforts in Afghanistan have inspired terrorists and led to the opening of branch offices throughout countries of the Muslim crescent.
There was a problem with the other arm of defending the Realm. Our police and criminal justice system had many problems not always of their own making. The tradition of policing by consent, which used to make Britain the envy of the world, is in danger from political interference that is alienating the police from the public.
Meanwhile, the style of governance was in flux. The Tories had been long in opposition and, as is quite normal, had been thinking what they would do if they were returned to power. They came up with a manifesto that was written to appeal to those who wanted change. Where they fell down however was that they did not look beyond the Golden Dawn of New Conservatives. Their Power Point schemes lacked depth. We Will was OK but How We Will was not explored and this led to abandonment, delay and U-Turns when pipe dreams were brought up against implementation; all seized upon by by the disenfranchised Socialists. The need to go into coalition with the Liberal Democrats meant more confusion and compromise and internal dissatisfaction amongst the turnip Tories.
The general public had much they wanted to see changed. Immigration controls and racial integration. Welfare benefits. Our apparent inability to run our own affairs in the face of decisions reversed by the Court of Human Rights. And then, the money men let us down. They had been allowed to run things their own way; firms were making profits, banks were paying bonus and other benefits. Everything in the garden had seemed rosy. But this was illusionary; a mirage. The government took little time to decide what should be done and spent even less time on explaining their decision and the implications. As government departments and industry announced their economy measures, something akin to panic spread and disillusion and discontent spread fanned by the main stream media. This, added to the U Turns and false dawns, put more pressure on the coalition.
There seems to be no way out. The Eurozone is in free fall and we are tied into that. There seems to be nothing that our government can do to rectify our situation. Truly, Fings Ain't what They Used To Be.