Hypocrisy can’t be British, can it?

Hypocrisy is something we always deny, because nobody likes a hypocrite. We love to say what we mean and mean what we say, don’t we? How could anyone think otherwise? Surely, I can’t include this in my list of what it is to be British?

How can anyone see hypocrisy in Britain?

Many people see contradictory images of Britain in the things they read in the papers, see on TV and get on social media. Then there are things you encounter in real life. What can anyone say about the British with any certainty or consistency? Do I stand by the things I have written about Britishness recently, such as our sense of humour?

What is this hypocrisy?

Most Britons claim to favour inclusivity in all aspects of life. No organisation would admit to deliberate discrimination. This contrasts with the many individual accounts of suffering inferior treatment for women, LGBT people, ethnic minorities and the disabled. It is also hard to dismiss all the allegations of discrimination by class and region. Statistics also support the belief that a glass ceiling exists even where general recruitment is inclusive.

Is hypocrisy confined to the ruling classes?

Who controls recruitment and promotion? Am I unfair to imply their attitudes reflect Britain as a whole? What about views of ordinary people?

  • We hear a lot of talk about inclusivity and sympathy for immigrants and refugees, but people are hostile to “illegals” and to foreigners taking “our” jobs.
  • We are all animal lovers, but there are many reported cases of cruelty.
  • Everyone moans about the government and nobody trusts a word the prime minister says, but they are ahead in the opinion polls.

Does hypocrisy mean “It doesn’t apply to me” and “Not in my back yard”?

Many people are in favour of something in general  but object when it comes home to them.

  • People want more wind farms, as long as they are not affecting their view.
  • For most Britons, human rights are low on the agenda until their rights are involved.
  • Everyone says the police should have more powers as long as they don’t use them against me.
  • Most people think religion is a good thing but few go to church.
  • There are always protests whenever anyone wants to knock down an ancient, or not so ancient, monument, but nobody wants to pay for its upkeep.

Am I really accusing my countrymen (and women) of hypocrisy?

Some people doubtless deserve such a criticism, but there may be other explanations for some of these contradictions. Out of over 60 million people, there are bound to be divisions. I have written before about subcultures. Often the differences are determined mainly by age. Sometimes the voices we hear most are those of a minority and the silent majority speaks only when provoked.

Brexit showed how divided we are, almost as much as in 1642, about which I have blogged and which is the background for my latest novel, Blood and Secrets.

Please, therefore, remember that whatever I say about Britishness can be nothing but a generalisation and cannot possible take into account all our inconsistencies and variations, unless I were to make every blog post into a book. Perhaps I should? In the end, we would be a boring lot if we were all the same or even if we were constant in our differences.

The cover of Blood and Secrets. Which side was guilty of hypocrisy?

Which side was guilty of hypocrisy?