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The Good Old Bad Old Days

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As the General Election approaches and we look to make our decisions at the ballot box, what will be the deciding factor in casting our votes? Relying on the weasel words of politicians, making their ephemeral promises has not proved reliable in the past. Yes, if you want to see a mansion tax, high earners discriminated against or you expect a new government to attempt to borrow ever more to fund job creation you might have already made your mind up. If you are vehemently for, or against, the EU - that might be the decider for you.

There are those that vote on the basis of what is essentially tribal allegiance but there are those who vote on the basis that one party or another can never be forgiven for this or that decision. Certainly sections of the left have created a hate culture around Margaret Thatcher, but surprisingly few have developed a similar theme surrounding those in the previous government who oversaw the decimation of our economy.

Is blissful ignorance of what has happened in the past best, avoiding as it does preconceived positions or is full and complete knowledge possibly continuing old enmities better? Who can tell? Do we continue the bloody feud between the Lancastrians and the Yorkists, or the battle against the Normans as Hereward the Wake did or can we put such things behind us and consign the feelings of enmity to the rubbish bin? Those two are easy, but what about being colour blind about our neighbours or the issues about the divide between Christians or between our way of life and those who hate our Western culture? Those divides are real today, along with many others and can we put aside those enmities as hopefully Europe has put aside the events of the past hundred years?

We live in a world overloaded by detail, thrust at us by 24 hour news stations (radio and television), the internet (in one of its many forms) or good old fashioned newsprint. We are currently being bombarded by images of humanitarian disasters from around the world, depressing and heart rending pictures together with the commentary emphasising the scale of the disaster and attributing blame to the terrorists, insurgents, governments and sundry others. What we are seeing is that there is a continuing theme, unchanged for millennia, of man's inhumanity to man.

We have seen recently a missing air liner, another shot out of the skies, a battle for control of Syria, the battle for accommodation amongst neighbours around Israel and so many other events covered in detail in our media. We form our own thoughts on who are the victims and who are the perpetrators of these events and mourning the senseless loss of life, thankfully as spectators.

When we look at history it is so much simpler. Though we might sympathise or cry for the victims it does not impinge upon us in the same way as the current images do. King Harold with an arrow through his eye, the confessions forced by the torturers employed by sundry English kings over the centuries or the 30000 or so Yorkists (or was it Lancastrians?) slaughtered at the battle of Towton Moor (the bloodiest battle on English soil) in 1461 are remote and are not constantly battering our senses from the media. In fact there is a romantic gloss as we look back at our history, filtering out the unpleasant bits and emphasising a Hollywood view of our history.

It is in our nature to put behind us the reality of these historical images though those who do not, continue enmities that threaten our world even today. There are so many such rivalries that are the source of the conflicts around the world that have lasted centuries or even in excess of a millennium. The sadness is that no amount of reconciliation or counselling seems to work for any length of time.

So are we going to be tribal in our voting intentions at the forthcoming general election? Are we going to remember the decisions made by Thatcher, or Brown or even Lloyd George and base our vote on our dislike of those figures? Or perhaps our admiration of the political leadership of Churchill, Attlee and others wins our vote for the future?

Harking back to the Good Old Days, or the Bad Old Days is little different from the enmities that have fuelled much of the unrest we see in the world today. Though our forthcoming internal political conflict is peaceful the result is vital to the future shape of our country in so many ways. Is our future going to be sculpted by our memories of The Good Old Bad Old Days?

David Ingall

Past President

UK200Group

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