I’m sorry, but some of you – the Brits amongst you especially – are going to hate this post.
I’ve been accused a few times over the last few weeks – both publicly and privately, on this blog and on other forms of social media – of ‘Brit-bashing’. I used to think that perhaps I had a lot of negative feelings about my British heritage because of living in Bangladesh. You see such poverty and such a different culture here that it is easy to quickly become critical of the west.
But then I see things like this article here:
Suddenly I’m all reminded that I had ‘issues’ with the west generally and Britain in particular before I ever came to Bangladesh. Living here has opened my eyes to another culture and, in doing so, opened my eyes to the world – something the British are spectacularly bad at doing. But I already believed that corruption was alive and well in the Great British nation long before putting my toe into the muddy waters of another country.
We are an island in physical reality and an island in mentality and, unfortunately, during the ‘Empire race’ of the 18th and 19th centuries, we won that particular ‘game’ (at the cost of others, of course) meaning the world has taken its cues from us up until only very recently. Slowly, the tide is turning but Brits really haven’t noticed yet. For those of you reading this who are not British, let me tell you that we really do think, when on holiday, that it is ridiculous if ‘foreigners’ (that’s the people in the country we’re visiting, not us) can’t speak English. We’ve never really had to fight for superiority and so we expect it bestowed upon us as a given. I don’t speak for everyone, of course, but enough of us to make it a general truth.
But while this stubborn refusal to acknowledge there is a world outside our island and it is not British (God forbid) gets me hot under the collar, it is our bureaucratic and insensitive nature that gets me most cross because this is where I see people getting hurt. We did it in British India; we left it behind there to allow ample room for corruption to breed within it and amongst the bureaucrats and the politicians; but most of all we kept it alive and well in the UK.
Recently, on Facebook and Twitter I posted about British police ‘raiding’ a group of homeless people and taking their food and sleeping bags – some donated by British people from shelters and charities: scan my Twitter-feed to find it.
Today, I read of this poor woman deemed ‘fit to work’ by British authorities when she was clearly very ill and, nine days after her appeal was rejected, she actually died from her medical conditions. Please do read the report and notice the importance of this line:
“Linda was told she would have to “score” at least 15 points from the assessment but her results were nil.”
And then this:
“her death certificate listed lung and heart problems, hypertension and chronic renal failure as causes.”
I’m no medical expert but even I can see something has gone very, very wrong here. But the concluding quote at the end of the report (I’ll let you read it yourself if you haven’t already) gives every indication that those responsible will hide behind ‘the rules’ – legislation – to justify what happened and give no apology.
This, in my humble opinion, is where Britain – despite Transparency International‘s reports which say otherwise – proves to be no less corrupt than any developing country like Bangladesh. Only we’ve made our corruption above-board and legal so there’s no problem.
I know that after the tragic attack on one of our soldiers last week that Brits are feeling very patriotic and defensive about ‘all that is great about the British’ right now, but injustice never sleeps and neither should we stop shouting about it when we see it. Like children at a Pantomime shouting “he’s behind you” so that Buttons doesn’t get clobbered by the bad guy, we can’t afford to see something bad done to another in the name of ‘law and order’ and say to ourselves “not today, not on this day. Don’t make a fuss. It’s not British”
If it is an inopportune moment to stand up and shout “this is wrong” and this is not what the Great British Public want to hear right now then I apologise – I really do. But please, try telling that to Linda Wootton’s widow first and then get back to me.