The pessimism of the left in the UK

Allister Heath writes:

This earthquake in social attitudes, the key to our political landscape,was captured in a little-noticed poll of 12,000 voters on election day by Lord Ashcroft, the Tory peer. The vast majority – 71 per cent – of Tory voters sensibly agreed that “overall, life in Britain is better than it was 30 years ago”. Shockingly, despite the substantial improvements to medical technology, incomes and life expectancy of the past 30 years, 51 per cent of Labour supporters disagreed. To them, 1985 was a better time, despite the unavailability of so many of the goods and services we now take for granted, the violent strikes, the Brixton race riots, the discrimination, the limited opportunities for women and of course the crippling 11.4 per cent rate of unemployment. …

Their pessimism is thus self-reinforcing. Lord Ashcroft’s poll shows that most Tories agree that “for most children growing up in Britain today, life will be better than it was for their parents”; yet 67 per cent of Labour supporters believe the opposite. While 86 per cent of Tories agree that “if you work hard, it is possible to be very successful in Britain no matter what your background”, 62 per cent of Labour voters take the opposite view. The world must look like a very bleak place to Corbynites.

On almost every important indicator things are better today in most countries than 30 years ago. Incomes are higher, people live longer, fewer children die.

In terms of recreation and entertainment we have infintely more choice – channels, stations, the Internet, games etc.

Air travel is no longer the preserve of the wealthy. Cars are safer, better and cheaper

Our medical knowledge is so much better than 30 years ago, and many things that used to kill you, don’t now.

We now have more computing power in our phones than almost any computer in the world had 30 years ago.

Crime and murder rates are much lower.

The world is no longer at risk of global nuclear war.

Many more homes are insulated

Services such as GPS maps that used to cost hundreds of dollars are now free.

The Internet.

Far fewer people die from smoking today.

And so on.

Is every single aspect of life today better than 30 years ago. Of course not. But in dozens and dozens of ways, and ways that matter to people, it is much better.

To those who claim it really was better 30 years ago, I wonder how many would be willing to go back in time and give up 2015 for 1985.

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