Saturday 19 June 2010

A very British blindness

Perhaps this is very curmudgeonly of me, but we seem to be slowly drowning in that dreadful version of English nationalism called The-Best-In-The-World-Syndrome (after the well-known cliché about British bobbies).

Why is it that our commentators assume that England is always set to win every World Cup, and that everything less than that is a crime for which somebody needs to be disembowelled in the tabloids? It isn’t as if we have much of a track record for the past four decades or so. Where did this strange idea emerge from that we somehow deserve to win?

Worse, this bizarre blindness probably prevents victory, because the combination of smugness and stodgy chutzpah filters through to the players.

Then there is BP. Why on earth should we let the company off the hook for its safety record and hideous pollution? Because they are British? Because it may affect our pensions? Give us a break.

In fact, isn’t this combination of arrogance and blindness precisely why we had to put up with such appalling government for the past few generations. Don’t tell me, because we are in this – and all things – the envy of the world?

Where I have some sneaking sympathy, not for BP, but for those who criticise the equally sanctimonious American politicians, is about who we should blame for oil gushing all over the Caribbean. A nation which has consistently failed to release itself from such a dangerous addiction to oil really has to take some of the blame. Why else are BP drilling into the ocean floor at increasing depths?

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