Our universities, the NHS and the BBC: three things that the rest of the world admires about Britain. It is no coincidence that all of them derive their values and ethics from outside the marketplace. If we want to ruin them, the quickest way is to bring in the values of finance and business – of profiteering from students, sweating academics and handing riches to the management.
Is this what is admired? Sorry, these three are?
I’ve lived most of my adult life abroad and I’ve most certainly heard people praise some parts of the university system – and not all of it, not by a long way. The BBC? Meh, other than parts of the World Service in repressive regimes not really. And no one, no one at all, I’ve met has said that they admire the NHS.
But to ask any foreigners who read here?
Something I have directly experienced though is our reputation for honesty. Not that it’s true or anything, but one day, when working in a country without any real rule of law or anything, I sealed a $300,000 deal on a handshake. The seller would be entirely and wholly at risk for the full amount for about two weeks as the export was made, arrived, checked, then paid for. No letter of credit, no bank guarantee. Just my handshake. Because, as everyone knows, when an Englishman gives his word…..it worked with me for I just couldn’t let the side own if people really do believe that.
But that is my personal experience. Bowler hats and London busses and all that – old maids cycling to communion, warm beer. It just ain’t that trio Chakrabortty is blethering on about.