Wednesday, January 24, 2007
French Fries in Bins
Having arrived in Florida last night I had the rather bizarre experience of being called this morning by the UK Correspondent of the Miami Herald asking me about the chips in bins issue.
She is writing a piece about the strange contradiction in Britons' attitudes to surveillance in public places and our ambivalence to any intrusion in to our homes. She wanted to use the reaction in Bournemouth to the insertion of the chips in our new 'little' bins to illustrate this.
I explained my point of view, which is that we are happy that we are watched over whilst in public because we rest assured in the (largely mistaken) belief that it brings help or intervention closer to us if we run in to trouble. However, there persists a very strong sense of 'an Englishman's home being his castle' and to this extent any intrusion by the government across that imaginary moat we place around our dwellings is greatly resented and swiftly rebuffed.
I also explained that I felt that most Britons perceive their car to be an extension of this home.
This therefore explains our acceptance of the widest degree of CCTV surveillance anywhere in the world, (and our clamour for even more to be introduced); our strong ambivalence towards micro chips in waste bins and the proposal that cars should carry tracking devices to enable road pricing; and our suspicion about the introduction of ID Cards.
The reporter listened very carefully and then kindly asked whether I had read a book called 'Watching the English' by Kate Fox. I said truthfully that I hadn't. Apparently the views I expressed about our national characteristics are almost identical to those espoused by Ms Fox in her book.
I think there is an important message here, that being that interference by Government (at any level) in our lives is of increasing concern to Britons. I believe it is going to be a huge issue in the coming years, one which will begin to differentiate the parties as clearly as the economic and defence arguments of the 1970's and 80's.