The Times They are a’Changing…

In changing times, there is doubt but ultimately some things do not change over the ages. This is the lesson not learned by civilisations that have come and gone simply because they have forgotten this simple truth

Column by Elizabeth Moore

In times of economic stress and doubt, when there has been a long period of uncertainty and pulling in of belts, the traditional British response has been of coming together, and uniting. Not for nothing did the Queen Mother welcome the bombing of Buckingham Palace during World War Two. Her famous quote, ‘Now we can look the East End in the face’ epitomised the attitude that when things are tough, those who are in a position of privilege must identify with the common man.

How very far we have come, incrementally, without even noticing the encroaching changes and all that they bring with them. We have had the wedding of Princess Eugenie, hardly a blip on most people’s radar, but somehow unsettling and epitomising all the disdain and borderline contempt that an unpopular younger son of the reigning monarch and his discredited ex-wife can show for the country at a time of deep uncertainty. If the rest of us weren’t so exhausted by Brexit, austerity and a sort of general national depression, this perfectly spectacle of two young people spending two million pounds worth of tax payer’s money would surely have drawn more criticism than it has. There has been the odd mention of it being rather off that most of the congregation were celebrities rather than the great and the good, or those who have contributed in some meaningful way to public service or duty. It has been quietly remarked that perhaps Prince Andrew might have left some of his dodgier mates off the guest list, or at the very least those who are publicly and ignominiously disgraced, such as Tarek Kaituni, who introduced Prince Andrew to Colonel Gaddafi and boasted that he had played a major role in the freeing of the Lockerbie bomber. He was by no means the only suspect name on the guest list, and it is a tribute to the sang froid of the British public that no one has got too upset at their hard earned tax revenue being spent to protect the likes of Kaituni or indeed Harry Keogh who left Coutts bank earlier this year in disgrace after accusations of touching the groin of a young female employee in front of witnesses.

Why does any of this matter? It matters because despite Prince Andrew’s harrumphing imitation of Mr. Toad in a temper when questioned on the wisdom of the scale of the wedding, the only reason that the little known and completely non-contributory Princess Eugenie was in a carriage at all, or in St.George’s Chapel, or indeed had so many friends, was simply because of her position of birth. How much more attractive, and popular, not to mention populist, are Princess Anne’s children, who seem to epitomise the ‘carry on regardless’ mentality of middle England, up to their knees in mud, titleless, hard working. Unsurprisingly, I am a member of the least likely demographic to be upset by any of this. Ultimately, this small insignificant event is only a symptom of a general malaise which no one has quite put their finger on yet. We are all feeling wrong footed and not without cause.

It’s the same with Brexit I’m afraid. Most people aren’t panicking about the intricacies of leaving or not leaving the customs union, they are worried that the sands are shifting below them, that a vote is no longer a vote, that you can go and give your opinion at the ballot box and that you will be disregarded. It genuinely baffles most people outside Westminster that politicians can have no idea of what they are doing and no ability to honestly communicate the repercussions of their decisions to the rest of us.

This is a moment of doubt, and from doubt nothing good can come. Extremism, fringe politics, tension, racism, all take root when those in positions of power disregard the gentle, rather noble values of the hard-working men and women that still make up the bulk of this country. Turn on the news and you would think that our green and really pleasant land is entirely made up of transsexuals (0.7 per cent of the population), strident far left influencers (no idea of the percentage but their voices are disproportionately loud), and politicians who have no connection with the vast majority of their voters. The United Kingdom is not just London, it is farmers and fishermen and people who would no more sit down with the congregation at St.George’s Chapel than they would expect their Queen to do so. They don’t ask for much, but they do ask to be listened to by those that they have put in power.

This all feels very similar to the shift in education that has taken place over the last 20 years. We have moved from a clearly defined contract that your children would attend school regularly, respect their teachers whom you would back up, and in return for you having got the little nippers potty trained and knowing how to count to ten teachers would educate them and you would help with homework and manners, to the nebulous, ever-shifting chaos of today. Your son might decide that on Wednesdays he identifies as a girl, he can wear what clothes he feels comfortable in, there are no boundaries and no certainties.

Well, it’s probably all going to turn into a brave new world any minute. Let us hope so, because from where I sit it all feels a bit like the decline of the Roman Empire. The masses won’t put up with our disdain, Left wing or Right wing, royal or political. Tommy Robinson and his ilk are not here by accident, there is a great swathe of the UK looking for direction and a leader, and who understand that #MeToo is making not a jot of difference to the everyday lives of their daughters or their wives, who are subject to abuse by boys and men who have never been told NO in any meaningful way because society is too scared to use the word. Humanity may have changed into a new and evolved form while I wasn’t looking or was talking on a panel about mental diversity. Perhaps this is all progress, but ultimately some things do not change over the ages. This is the lesson not learned by civilisations that have come and gone simply because they have forgotten this simple truth, that we can sublimate our instincts, and replace them with virtue signalling and celebrity worship, but sooner or later the basic characteristics of a nation will come to the fore and remind those who should never have forgotten in the first place, who puts them into their positions of power and who can change their minds. riddle_stop 2

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