The Paralysis of Britain    
    Ignorance is not our problem, says John Tyndall: we lack the ability to get things done    

A common theme with regard to present-day Britain is that almost nothing runs properly. We have a Third World health service and a Third World public transport system. Our education has for many years been a national scandal. Our manufacturing industry has virtually collapsed, with what little is left of it owned largely by foreigners. Our towns and cities are untidy, dirty and, increasingly, ugly - with tenth-rate standards of local government. Our immigration controls are a total shambles, with the world and his wife being able to cross our borders with impunity. Law and order have completely broken down, while our social fabric disintegrates. Our foreign policy is just a joke, corresponding in no way to vital national interests but just following the latest prime ministerial whim. Tony Blair makes speeches against terrorism around the world, while capitulating to terrorism at home. We cannot even get right such things as a modern national sports stadium or the building of the Millennium Dome. In short, Britain has become a depressingly incompetent country in almost every sector of affairs.

In a two-page focus on transport problems published in the Sunday Times of November 25th it was stated that: ";Trains, planes and cars are grinding to a halt as our national infrastructure crumbles. With improvements stuck in the bureaucratic slow lane, why can't we plan for the future?"

It is not as if national life continued blithely on, with most people ignorant and unconcerned about the diminished quality of services; all of these have been the subjects of quite animated public debates in the press and on television. The Sunday Times item was merely one of many that have focused on what is wrong. There have been some quite sound contributions by journalists to analysis of transport, NHS and education deficiencies, and indeed most others - with the notable exception of our problems of race, where a clear taboo exists against any serious examination of where we are going astray.

We might look briefly at three areas of particular prominence where millions of words have been printed and where in fact we do not lack an enlightened consensus as to what needs to be done.


Few any longer believe in the permissive, child-centred learning methods that came into vogue in the 1960s, in which pupils were given an input into decisions concerning class curricula, school discipline went out of the window and vital subjects such as geography and history subjected to political correctness where not abandoned completely. In recent years there has been a growing awareness of the need to revert to traditional teaching methods. It has been reported that some improvements in exam results are now visible, but in view of the fact that test papers have been made so much easier by comparison with what they used to be it is difficult to evaluate these claims. Even putting the best complexion on developments, our educational standards still place us very near the bottom, if not actually at the bottom, of the European league.

Health service

For years, including the many years of Tory government prior to 1997, this public sector has been a disgrace. It is now widely recognised that the service is grossly under-funded by comparison with those of our neighbours in Europe, but it is also recognised that money alone is not the problem. We have observed that in countries like France and Germany, where vastly higher standards prevail, these standards are achieved by a combination of private and public sector health care; yet the prevailing ideology still warps the attitude of government towards the former, and improvements still are not visible. We suffer the regular indignity of seeing needy patients go abroad for the treatment they cannot get at home, and now government has consented to pay for this, even when it is private. Whilst this decision had to be made, it is symptomatic of a total national impotence in health matters.


As many a press commentary testifies, Britain is simply not getting there. The land that gave the world railways now has a railway system that is a disgrace, with dirty, scruffy trains that constantly arrive late at dirty, scruffy stations; in which journeys are scandalously overpriced; and in which safety standards are among the world's worst. Where travellers opt for other forms of transport, they have to contend with mostly poor bus or underground services or are condemned to drive their cars on over-congested roads, badly constructed and in constant need of repair, while they are for ever penalised by rising road fund tax and petrol prices. While in the health service we suffer from inadequate privatisation, in the field of transport we have far too much. The privatisation of the railways has proved a fiasco, with shareholders' profits for ever coming before passenger convenience and safety. But even before this happened rail travel was a nightmare for millions. We have been talking about these things for years, and there are plenty of bright ideas for improvement. We observe how other countries manage things better, but that is all we ever do: observe - and complain.

Overview needed

What then can be done? It is at this point that we need to take a few paces back from our problems and endeavour to acquire a new focus - a kind of overview. Current debate, whether it be about transport, health, education, or a host of other national sores, suffers from our being too close to the issues in question: too preoccupied by the details and the theory. What we should really be concerned about is the fact that after decades of awareness of things being badly wrong - decades of Tory governments as well as of Labour governments, decades of national ‘leaders’ of many types, decades of introspection and talk - these things have not improved but have only got worse. What has been lacking is action. What has prevailed is paralysis. Why have fine theories and intelligent criticism - which have been in ample supply - not been translated into clear policy, backed up by the will to get results?

There can only be two answers, both interlinked: that our institutions are inadequate to the tasks, and that the people who rise through them just are not up to the job.

I was reminded of the latter problem on an occasion a few years back when I attended an election count. Our BNP contingent got into an argument with the Labour crowd (initiated by the latter, I might add). After hearing them talk for about twenty minutes, I was left wondering what there was where their brains were supposed to be. They were absolute cretins, almost every one of them. One doesn't mind a bit of disagreement when it is intelligently expressed; then one can have an interesting discussion, and even perhaps learn something. But the opposition of these creatures was the opposition of mentally backward yahoos. And they looked the idiots that they sounded. In due course we learned that some of them were borough councillors, no less! After seeing them and listening to them, we could easily work out why local services were at such abysmal standards, why almost nothing worked, why sacks of refuse piled up in the streets and neighbourhoods became unkempt. I have never allowed myself the dubious pleasure of being in the gallery at council meetings, but some of my friends have. They testify uniformly that the level of debate would discredit a rowdy kindergarten. We can of course watch and hear parliamentary proceedings now on television, and we find that even the ‘élite’ of the whole country are little better than the pathetic midgets who grace our chambers of local government. In the case of many of them, their private lives are as seedy and sordid as their contributions to national politics. These - believe it or not - are our governors. They make our laws and determine our decisions as a nation. When one sees and hears them in the flesh one shudders at that thought. They are the lance corporals and privates - even at times the escapees from the guard house - who in a crazily dysfunctional army walk about in the uniforms of generals. No wonder we're where we are!

Needs of political reform

In The Eleventh Hour I pinpointed the problem. In a chapter headed ‘The Political System’ I listed some requirements essential for us to achieve good government, namely:-

‘First and foremost, we must recruit into political life a much higher calibre of person than is the norm in British politics today. Currently, our men and women of public affairs are simply too small in both mind and character to be able to cope with the great issues with which they are confronted. Whatever means are required to elevate to the top those people with the highest leadership qualities must be adopted. In addition to this, politics must be given the status of a proper profession, which, as with other professions, people can only practise when they have obtained qualifications of proven competence.

‘Governments, once elected, must be given proper powers to act in accordance with the will of the people who have elected it. It must be immunised from the pressures of special sectional interest groups, particularly of finance, and be enabled to carry out, unhindered, the policies necessary to the nation's good.

‘A way needs to be found to take party warfare out of politics. The nation cannot be governed well when a large faction in parliament has a vested interest in it being governed badly...

‘Ministers in charge of the departments of government should be experts in their fields and not amateurs. To bring this about, it should be possible for them to be selected from the pool of managerial talent of the whole population, not solely from elected MPs.’

Current politics in Britain constitute something of a vicious circle. Our political institutions are ancient, moth-eaten and designed for times long gone. In addition, today they are corrupt and wholly lacking in any spirit of patriotism or public service. An atmosphere of self-seeking cynicism pervades every corner, not unlike the final days of Sovietism in Russia and Eastern Europe, when the ideals of the political spring had long given way to the ethics of the apparatchik, who thought only of his place in the pecking order, his comrade's perks, his comfortable datcha and his pension; when the slogans of youth were parroted as before - but no longer with belief, only the smirk of resignation and obsequiousness - a booking of tickets to security and (perhaps) honours.

Into this cesspit are sucked the meanest and smallest spirits of the times: the inadequate little people who in ordinary life would never rise above the status of minor clerks but whose breasts burst with egotism and ambition. They join political parties or trade unions and soon become important by way of taking on jobs that no-one else wants to do. Before long they have fancy titles which give them a grossly inflated sense of their own worth. After a little while on the gravy train they learn that progress up the ladder depends on kissing the right backsides and in every way and at all times reciting the ‘correct’ party line of the moment. In such careers genuine executive talent counts for little beside a mastery of the tricks of the party game: first the tricks of bettering rivals for the approving eye of the party leader, then later the tricks of scoring points in debate against the political opposition.

The virtues of susbservience

In all this process subservience is an essential attribute. Individuals of pride and honour, with minds of their own, cannot last five minutes in the political rat-race. Enoch Powell set a precedent for this more than thirty years ago, and the lesson has not been lost on his successors. Place-men and women are what are required, and they are the kinds who come forward. In all this, ability counts for little.

Within parties, ‘getting on’ involves subservience to the party leader and sometimes to the party whips who enforce the leader's will. But once one gets to the very top subservience of another kind, and at another level, comes into play. The rising politician comes in time to understand that ‘democracy’ is just a racket and a front. Behind that front, wholly different forces are in command - forces not imagined by the little party-joiner who signs up for the first time and covets a seat on his branch committee. Very, very powerful people have to be appeased: billionaire financiers; press and TV barons who dwell in their own stratosphere of patronage and influence; political ‘fixers’ who operate in shady corners behind the scenes. In due course it is discovered that these people owe allegiance to no country; their stage is international and their loyalties are to ‘World Order’. They are not responsible to electorates, which consist of mere productive workers and public servants whom they despise - except when such people are called upon to supply military cannon fodder for their ever more frequent globalist wars.

Self-exclusion by the best

Men and women of genuine character and ability are repelled by the racket and want no part of it. They thus follow careers outside politics where they might do something useful for their countries and people, and at the same time keep their self-respect intact. So into the breach step the tadpoles of society, who by brown-nosing their way upwards can become government ministers, even premiers! Thus a creature like Tony Blair can attain the highest political rank, while around him assemble a band of no-hopers who are granted the distinction of being called a Cabinet! Then with that scenario created, jobs for the boys and girls are doled out like presents at a Christmas party. Loyalty in some past party crisis is not forgotten as one is given foreign affairs, another the chancellorship, yet another education, yet another health. Capability? Qualification? Experience? You're joking! This is politics - moreover the politics of a liberal democracy!

In any public or private concern devoted to serious business, the incompetence of these kinds of people would quickly be spotted and they would be out on their ears. But in modern politics what counts is not competence but ‘spin’ - to be precise, the ability to appear more clever and more smart, more interesting and more glamorous than the Opposition. If Britain currently had an Opposition of even moderate calibre, able to out-spin New Labour in these popularity stakes, Blair & Co. would have been kicked out last June. But what Britain has for ‘Opposition’ is the Tory Party! So Blair & Co. continue to get away with it while Britain continues to rot.

What we see here is a phenomenon not confined to this country; it prevails to one degree or another throughout the so-called ‘free’ world. Hence as Britain gets leaders like Blair and Major the United States is inflicted with the likes of Bush and Clinton, France with Chirac and Germany with Schroder. Across the world, at least across the West, the giants are gone and the midgets are in control. Britain is exceptional perhaps only in so far as the racket here has taken on a particular virulent form, and manifests itself in even greater political ineptitude than is demonstrated elsewhere. In these other countries a capacity still exists for running some public services with a modicum of intelligence and purpose. Here there are no such blessings. Here the inmates have more or less taken over the asylum, and nothing works but propaganda - the supreme achievement of ‘Cool Britannia’, the one industry that is in profit.

We shall not see improvement until we tackle the problems at first base. We must devise better institutions and we must recruit better leaders. Both are, as indicated earlier, mutually interdependent.

Precisely how we should do this and what new form the institutions should take is something that belongs to another study. First, we have to identify the problem before we can talk about the solution.

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