A couple of opinion pieces in the Times of London.
Gerard Baker posits a decline in the Britishness of being British...economic stagnation and a political system that isn't quite democracy.
India Knight looks at the same issue from the viewpoint of the recreational habits of a substantial underclass without hope, and what they make their society. The upright working class, the "conscience and backbone" of the nation, declines into an uneducated, hateful and bitter underclass.
Causes? Guesses, anybody?
The loose, lax and permissive 60s? The lingering effects of excessive union power through the 70s? The unintended consequences of hard line economics where there is no such thing as society? The legacy of ten years of the triumph of spin over substance?
Hmm, that's 3 against 1, the ideological orientation of this little blog is getting wobbly again. Any more of this and we'll be back to public corporal punishment as the panacea for all that ails us.
You can rest assured that the quick and easy answer will be wrong, but how the various policy environments have combined to get the current results is far too big to be bitten off here. 'Cos I'd like to believe that it was the single one in that list that did the damage, but common sense gets in the way.
I wouldn't like to see a return to that stultifying obeisance to authority that characterised the period when I was born. I look at Offsprings 1 and 2 and think, "well, for kids of characteristically 'wet, wishy-washy left' parents who grew up in a period when kids had a lot more freedom, they didn't end up too badly given their various educations."
But we can't go arguing from the particular to the general here, can we?
We don't need national service, but some grammar and speed and accuracy mental arithmetic tests, such as the late father used to put me through on the long drives from Sydney to Dubbo, wouldn't go astray.