Monday, December 31, 2007
Polly Toynbee was on Start the Week on Radio 4 this morning. Andrew Marr was asking his guests to make predictions about the year ahead.
Ms Toynbee made the prediction that we would become wealthier, healthier and safer next year, as we have done in each of the past ten years.
She also predicted that we would also not feel any of these things and as a result moan more than we had in the previous year.
Surely that's the point. It's not whether we are, according to statistics, wealthier, healthier or safe, the salient point is whether we feel that way or not.
National GDP may have risen and the economy may continue to grow, that doesn't mean that I am feeling any wealthier at the end of this year than I did at the end of last. I also know that my taxes have increased, as has my mortgage, as has the cost of running my car.
I also know that the turnover of my business has decreased, that I am facing greater costs as an employer due to increased legislation, taxation and regulation.
We may be living longer yet that doesn't mean I am feeling any healthier or that my family is any better off health wise. I know that my family might be healthy, but also that access to NHS services has not improved and that my mother is still facing a month long wait for an appointment at her local pain relief clinic.
Crime statistics may show that the level of crime is decreasing nationally, however my experience this year has been to have my car broken in to twice, two more times than in any of the previous five years. I hear daily from people that they feel there is no point reporting minor crime because the police are unable to respond quickly and seem unable to offer any prospect that the culprits will be caught.
Isn't it about time that commentators like Ms Toynbee stopped talking about the national statistics and started viewing the everyday experiences of real people? Then she might understand why people are likely to complain more in the coming year.