The past 10 days I’ve been in the Britain with my wife and granddaughter.
This is about my 45th trip to the U. K. during the past 30 or so years.
I’d guess my total time spent here amounts to more than two years.
With that as background, I offer the following informal “this and that” notes from Britain in no particular order of importance - - -
People here are fed up with taxation to a degree I’ve never seen before.
Taxes are often the first subject people mention; and it doesn’t take much to get them started.
I walked into an antique shop the other day and greeted the woman with “How are you today?”
“I’d be a lot better if they hadn’t started taxing my pension.”
“I’m sorry that happened.”
“Then you don’t want to hear what they’re planning for the road tax.” (That’s a tax a lot like a property tax in the States on your car. I’m assured by friends here the government can and does seize your car within two months of your failure to pay the road tax.)
“But have a look around if you like.”
Almost all of what a British motorist or lorry driver pays for petrol is taxes.
Many people mention that and add: “You in America are so lucky to have gas at $4.00 a gallon. We’d be happy to pay that.” ( I don’t know what the price per gallon is here, but I’ll find out and let you know. If you know, please let me know, with a link if possible.)
I can sum up what just about all Brits I’ve listened to have said and what I glean from the newspapers with this:
“We went along with tax increases based on promises of better health care, better education standards, better control of immigration and greater public safety.”You’d guess from what I’ve just said that PM Gordon Brown’s Labour government’s in trouble; and you’d be right.
“We got the higher taxes, but nothing got better.”
Polls show Labour at its lowest point in decades; trailing the Conservatives by 15 points or more.
Since British general elections are much more about party preference than our national elections, Labour’s current poor poll showings are far more significant than would be similar Rep-Dem preference poll findings.
If you ask people here what the U. K. voter preference poll numbers mean, they’ll tell you: “Labour’s lost the country.”
I hear that not just from Tories and Lib Dems; Labourties say the same thing.
Enough of British politics for now.
How are folks here looking at the Yanks?
Well, for one thing, the Dem nomination race has been widely followed, with most people favoring Sen. Obama.
I said “widely” because I was readying to say most people here haven’t followed the nomination contest to the point they have anything like what you’d call “some depth of understanding”
Typically, Obama is wonderful because “he’s young,” “seems to want to listen,” and “really excites me, although I know he needs to do more than that.” Hillary Clinton had support here because “she’s a woman” (same as in the States), and “she seems to know what she wants, and that’s good in a leader.”
With Obama now the nominee, almost everyone I talk to wants him to win.
I’ll say more about why tomorrow.
Now about the weather.
Many of you know the Eastern U. S. has been sweltering.
So are people here asking if I blame global warming for that?
In fact, no one here’s brought up globel warming this trip.
That may be because many parts of England have just had one of their coldest and wettest Spring’s on record.
Final note - - -
With a few stinkers of the kind every country has excepted, I've find the British people extremely likable.
I wonder how they ever got the reputation of being standoffish.