Do you know how frustrating it is to lose a blog? I had carefully written one for this week and I managed to lose it. Normally several oopies are somewhere on my computer, but this time I was actually able to lose it completely.
So it is back to the writing table or keyboard but in a slightly worse mood to write about the same subject, which is just what is says in the title: ‘the worst place to live in Europe’.
I get daily alerts from Citywire and this topic appeared there last week. It referred to a study by USwitch which managed to get this country to the bottom of the list of desirable places to live in Europe.
Now I am a foreigner (some less worthy people refer to me as a b….y foreigner) and I have actually chosen to live here for the past 21 years. I could live anywhere in Europe or the US as I have both Dutch and American citizenship, yet I have chosen to live on this cold and wet island. Why? Because it is actually not such a bad place.
What interested me about the study was something which I have blogged about before, which is the lack of vision from our nation’s leaders and perhaps from all of us.
The problem is not that Britain is not a beautiful country, with a fantastic history and a great population (when not drunk). The problem is we are falling behind because we refuse to invest in the future, but would rather wallow around in the past.
The study mentions the comparatively low spend on health and education which are dragging us down. These are investments in our future. I know we are spending oodles on academies, but most of that money is wasted as far as I can see. We have two new academies here in town and all they can talk about is the new buildings and the new uniforms, but they cannot find anyone to lead it. In other words the veneer is nice, but there is no content, no vision to, no drive and no solid investment in the future of the kids. Yet we managed to spend over £10 million on the debate on the project.
Our transport system is dreadful and getting worse. Our trains are the source of many jokes and the most expensive in Europe. Our roads are non-existent and where they do exist they are in bad shape and not well designed. Heathrow, our major airport is seriously behind the times yet we cannot even get another runway and on it goes. All you ever hear is ‘there is no money’, yet we found billions to pour into wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and into gambling (some call it banking).
How can we throw money into these things and ignore our future?
We love the debate but we are terrified of taking action – for ten years we talked about a link road here in my home town and then binned it. How much did that cost and what was achieved? Nothing!
The French have decided to develop Calais into “one of the first direct gateways for distribution between the UK and continental Europe”. Why there and not here? Because whatever you may think of the French, they do have vision – and France came out as the best place to live in Europe and that is truly frustrating. If you use the Channel Tunnel as much as I do you will notice all the many shops on the French side which are filled with Brits and the complete lack of shops and Frenchies on this side. Is there not a message there? Now the transport industry is going to be based over there also – well done!
Look at our sewage system, or water supplies (are we still losing 30% of our water through leaks in our infrastructure? What other country can match that?), electricity or telephone and broadband networks. All are well behind the times and need some serious updating. So better to spend money on democracy crusades than on our infrastructure. Maybe we can get some more consulting teams to review the NHS rather than actually build decent hospitals.
It is simple folks – unless we invest in our future as a country, as a business and as individuals, there is no future. Let’s stop moaning that Britain might not be the best place to live in and get on with investing in our futures. After all, the French decided even in 1066 that this island was the better place to be.