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Sunday, 22 September 2013

What have the English ever done for us?

This morning, this was posted by someone I follow on Twitter.

I decided to respond (please forgive the bad spelling. I never type well on an iPad)

and the conversation then went down this road

Now I can't say I'm surprised. The English media are very good at portraying "broken" Britain, and telling us how bad everything is, and they just reinforce and reinforce day after day until we believe there is nothing good about this country.

And its just not true.  England is a great place to live.  Twitter doesn't give me the time of amount of characters I need to express this, so I'm going to do it here.

This is in no way a slight at @_MattP20 in fact, I'm thankful he gave me the opportunity to get this off my chest!

What is so good about England? I'll start with my initial tweet

Healthcare - The NHS, for all its faults, is still one of the best healthcare systems in the world. yes it has problems but year on year it helps diagnose, treat and cure more and more people, which in the long run is going to leave us with a significant problem cos everyone is living longer but spending long peiod of it not working due to our excellent medical system

free schools - yes, we pay tax for it, but if your argument against any country is "you have to pay tax" you're not living in the real world. the schools are an entitlement for everyone in the UK up to the age of 18 to receive a state sponsored education at institutions which have standards that they must achieve. there are many countries out there where this is simply not the case, and the underclass do not have access to basic education

benefits system - controversial, but Britain as a society tries to ensure that no-one has nothing and everyone is able to hold together the basic amenities of life, no matter what their situation. there are many other countries where people without money are simply abandoned as there is no system - no safety net - to catch them. It also ensures that people who have additional needs or their carers have the resources to be able to do this rather than have to put people into institutional care, which would be a much higher burden on the taxpayer.

public transport - buses, trains, underground, trams, in some places also bicycles, England has a multitude of government-sponsored ways of getting around. i was shocked when i lived in the US that if i didn't have access to a car or bike, i was pretty much stuck. public transport where i was living didn't exist. Now if its like that in the USA, what's it like in the rest of the world?

Freedom of speech - you can say what you want about whom you want (as long as you can justify it) and protest about anything (as long as you do it within the law). There are not too many countries that are as open and liberal in outlook to free speech as we are, and in many countries the repressive regimes ensure that the local law enforcement agencies are just thugs that enforce their rule or silence.

opportunity - SO much opportunity. the opportunity to get a better education, to get a better job, to work for yourself, to create a successful business, to take part, to play, to live your life without fear.

work - there are lots of jobs for those who really want one. look at any website, job paper, job centre and there are thousands. the problem is often the snobbery of people who don't want to do a job they see as beneath them, or think they are better off on benefits (which IS a significant problem). but the bottom line is, if people want to work, there are jobs out there. Or, work for yourself. there are tens of thousands of self-employed one-man operations doing all sorts of work, from window cleaning to music composing for video games (my brother in law). In England, you can turn what you are good at into a job. you just have to figure out how.

Cornish pasties - love 'em.

And to continue, here's a few really big ones I didn't get to before:

For all its faults, we have a wide-reaching, effective police force. We don't have to spend or lives in fear of militant groups or militias gunning us down as an example or because we are the wrong religion.

We are religiously tolerant. Even the most obnoxious, hateful, bigoted person can live here as long as they are not preaching murder, and that covers Christianity as well as non-state religions (I would have kicked Ian paisley out of the UK years ago if I could).

Women aren't nearly as repressed as they are in many other countries, although I accept that equality is currently theoretical rather than actual. but women have opportunity here.

The UK has a commitment to fairness, tolerance, open mindedness and justice. In a world where many people don't have access to fresh water, where mortality rates are high, where schools are for the wealthy, where women can be legally raped because they are property, where they don't have an equivalent to the NHS and have to walk hundreds of miles to a clinic which may not be able to help them, does England really seem like that bad a place?

We all have our own experiences of these institutions, and may well have negative views, but just step back for a minute and think: would I prefer to have been born is Somalia? North Korea? Bangladesh? Nicaragua? Namibia? Afghanistan? The list goes on.

I'm pretty sure if you go through all the countries in the world and balance all the things that England has against each of the other nations, you'll end up with a short list of places you might prefer to live.

I live in England and I love it here, for all its flaws. I wouldn't live anywhere else (with the possible exception of New Zealand)

And I'm Scottish.

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