Brit-bashing, Corruption and the Great British Pantomime

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:

Linda Wootton: Double heart and lung transplant dies nine days after she has benefits stopped – Mirror Online.

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.

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3 Responses to Brit-bashing, Corruption and the Great British Pantomime

  1. Pingback: The Privilege of The Chipping Norton Set – a comment on a post by Scriptonite Daily | kenthinksaloud

  2. Ruby Tuesday says:

    It’s funny, I’ve recently had a similar post in my mind — not about Britain, obviously, and I won’t breathe another word, because there’s a slim chance of it getting written as it is (even my mentioning the thought may have been the death-knell. . .)

    Anyway, the point is, I’m not going to stand up and criticize Britain, nor will I take the other side and defend her. I think that you, Ken, as a citizen of that nation, as someone who knows her and her people intimately, and as someone who also knows quite a bit about other places in the world, you are uniquely qualified to do so.

    For my own reasons, I feel like I haven’t the true right to hold a strong opinion on anything here at all — excepting your opinion. 😉


    • Thanks Ruby. I appreciate your tact in all that you said.
      I think there is a big difference between criticising a state and a person. Most of the British I know are pretty decent people – though some have their moments – and I have no right to judge them. But the state of Britishness (Or Banglaness, or American-ness if you like) can and should be held up by its peers to scrutiny and held accountable for what it does. The aim is not not tear down but to build something better. I do believe in the ‘global village’ and as such I think such states can and should be criticised by their global peers. We all live on the same one planet and all bleed red blood…


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