I’m pretty happy not to be in the UK right now. With the PM’s announcement of a (rather unpopular) Brexit deal, the resignation of multiple cabinet members, and the call for a vote of no-confidence from Jacob Rees-Mogg (at the time of writing, this vote has not yet taken place), it seems the tensions of Brexit have reached a critical point.
But, to be honest, I was already bored of Brexit long before now, and I’m certainly not interested in contributing to the already overflowing bucket of op-eds on the subject. I’m far too much of an optimist to become another writer complaining about the mess of it all.
Instead, I’ll try and look on the bright side. Despite all the uncertainty and tension, we can at least be thankful we aren’t living in the 1970s.
Try to imagine some of the fears of that time period, compared to what we’re afraid of now. True, things are far from perfect; it seems every week we hear more stories of the looming threat of violence, war, and terrorism.
Now though, imagine coming home, switching on your TV, waiting for it to warm-up because it’s the 70s and everything’s terrible, and seeing this. If the looming threat of nuclear war wasn’t enough to make you feel more than a little uneasy, having to sit through a government advertisement telling you what to do with corpses after an surely would.
On a side note, it wasn’t just nuclear information videos that were terrifying; for some reason every public information film from that decade was designed to be as unnerving as possible, even the ones directed at children.
No matter how bad the news gets, I defy anyone to tell me that anything broadcast in 2018 even comes close to the horrors of the 70s.
Outside of the media, things in real-life weren’t much cosier. The state was pretty big back in the 70s, and had its fingers in a great deal of the economy. No surprise, then, that by the end of the decade, mismanagement from the state had triggered a crisis of strikes and economic misfortune so bad that it got its own Shakespearean name: The Winter of Discontent.
Refuse collectors went on strike, leaving mountains of rubbish piled up in the street. NHS workers went on strike, leaving many patients without treatment, and the need to draft in the military to fill in for the ambulances which were no longer running. In Liverpool, gravediggers went on strike, leaving corpses unburied.
While this was all going on, the famously out-of-touch press conference delivered by then-PM James Callaghan led (and the subsequent headline in The Sun ‘Crisis? What Crisis?’) surely puts the many conference gaffs of Theresa May to shame.
As I hope I’ve shown, Britain has been through political crises before. Brexit and its recent developments are absolutely important; they’re probably the most significant political events many of us have seen. But, we’ve also made a lot of progress since the crises of the past. The strikes of the 2010s have never led to the standards of order we saw in the late 70s.
So, if the Brexit news ever gets you down, and I know it will, just be thankful you’re not in the 70s. However bad it gets, at least we don’t have to deal with nuclear war, unburied corpses, or music like this reaching first place in the charts. I think that’s something we can agree is worthy of a little optimism.