The German magazine Der Spiegel (The Mirror) has offered readers in that country a depressing summary of life in the UK – with predictions of worse to come:
Food shortages, moldy apartments, a lack of medical workers: The United Kingdom is facing a perfect storm of struggle, and millions are sliding into poverty. There is little to suggest that improvement will come anytime soon.
Things aren’t going well for the United Kingdom these days. For the past several months, the flow of bad news has been constant, the country’s coffers are empty, public administration is ineffective and the nation’s corporations are struggling. As this winter came to an end, more than 7 million people were waiting for a doctor’s appointment, including tens of thousands of people suffering from heart disease and cancer. According to government estimates, some 650,000 legal cases are still waiting to be addressed in a court of law. And those needing a passport or driver’s license must frequently wait for several months.
Boarded up windows and signs reading “To Let” and “To Rent” have become a common sight on the country’s high streets, while numerous products have disappeared from supermarket shelves. Recently, a number of chains announced that they would be rationing cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers for the foreseeable future.
Last year, 560 pubs closed their doors forever, with thousands more soon to follow, according to the industry association. Without Oxfam, the Salvation Army and other charitable organizations that operate second-hand stores, numerous city centers would have almost no shops left at all.
Last week, the International Monetary Fund forecast that in no other industrialized nation would the economy develop as poorly as in Britain this year. Even Russia is expected to end up ahead of the UK.
Whereas the number of billionaires in the UK – at 177 – is higher than it has ever been, millions of Britons have slid into poverty. Newspapers and television channels are full of cheap recipes and shows like Jamie Oliver’s “£1 Wonders.” Since December, hardly a day has passed without a strike by bus drivers, medical workers, teachers, public servants, university employees or rail workers. Last week, assistant doctors across the country went on strike for four days, with the media calling on the populace to avoid all activities that could result in injury.
Nowhere is the feeling of having “lost the future” stronger than in Britain, according to the public opinion pollsters from Ipsos. In 2008, the year of the banking and financial crisis, 12 percent of people in the UK believed that their children would be worse off than them. Now, that number is 41 percent, Ipsos has found.
The magazine doesn’t mince words when discussing responsibility for the crisis. It’s down to the Conservative government in general – and Boris Johnson in particular, it seems:
Many simply no longer trust their speechifying politicians in Westminster to get much done. The Tory party, which has been in power now for a dozen years, has gone through four prime ministers since 2016 alone.
Even if the fifth in the series, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, is doing all he can to leave behind the period of sloganeering and slapstick, the UK isn’t likely to recover from his predecessors any time soon. Particularly not from Boris Johnson, who still refuses to admit any personal responsibility for the plight in which Britain finds itself and continues to bleat in a huff from the sidelines.
Even as his country slid further and further into the abyss, Johnson spent years absorbing all political momentum like a black hole, instead throwing his energy into projects like bringing back imperial measurements, announcing his intent to build a sinfully expensive royal yacht named Britannia and convincing the populace that he was building a “global,” or even a “galactic Britain,” a reference to the country’s budding space program.
Yet in early January, when the first 11 satellites ever to be launched from British soil were to head into space from Cornwall, the mission failed, and they ended up in the Atlantic instead. Excitement about the launch had been limited anyway, with an earthly populace that would have been happy with functioning school toilets.
The article goes on to examine a few case studies – including the National Health Service, on which it quotes the current average waiting time for an ambulance: 93 minutes.
“This country was already on its knees before Brexit, before the endless phase of political trench warfare and before the pandemic,” the article concludes.
“And now, it seems as though it has dialed 999 and is waiting in vain for the paramedics to show up.”
That’s how they see the UK in Germany. Considering where Der Spiegel lays the blame, is it something to think about when casting your vote in the local elections – and the general election that will eventually follow?
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