Way back in the summer of 1979 there was mass unemployment that was heading up towards three million, and the strident divisive politics of Margaret Thatcher were just about to be inflicted on the nation. Instead of staring at the negative, Ian Dury got together with his band the Blockheads and released one of the most upbeat and cheerful pieces of music ever recorded. He called it ‘Reasons to be Cheerful Part 3’ in the hope that we would all assume there were another two lists of good things that he could have drawn our attention to. It remains a classic.
Since we are all in bad need of a bit of positivity, I thought I would have a go at putting out my own list of reasons to be cheerful. I can’t begin to claim to copy the lyrical brilliance of Ian Dury, and you won’t be able to sing along to it, but hopefully some of it will strike you as worth feeling positive about. At the very least you might find it a helpful antidote the next time you read in the popular press that we must all rejoice at our good fortune to be under the wise and benevolent leadership of bumbling Boris.
Here’s what I came up with:
- Donald Trump won’t be president of the United States for much longer.
- Covid vaccinations have started. As soon as there are large numbers of people resistant to infection the virus will find it increasingly difficult to spread.
- The days are getting lighter and longer.
- We still have 73 British MPs with the courage to vote against the government’s bad Brexit deal.
- The NHS has once again proved its value and it will be harder than ever for free market obsessives to sell it off.
- The true value of care workers has at last been recognised by most of the nation.
- Many people have learned the value of working from home and will never again need to waste time and energy on commuting long distances.
- On Boxing Day 2020, the UK generated 50 percent of all its energy from renewable wind power. Large batteries and other energy storage systems are getting more efficient and cheaper by the day and can be realistically expected to even out demand and supply. The age of fossilised thinking is coming to an end.
- Covid-19 has reminded us of the value of community spirit and of collective protection. Many more people now know that there is such a thing as society and that when push comes to shove, we need care workers more than investment bankers.
- Greta Thunberg may be a rare and exceptional person, but more young people think like her than like Donald Trump.
- The vast majority of women have consistently refused to allow society to impose fresh restrictions on their choices and are demanding more equality, despite daily resistance
- The average child born on the planet in 1950 had a life expectancy of 48 years. Today it is 71 years.
- More farmers than ever before want to promote high standards. Few want to be forced to adopt bad practices or to be driven out of business by a bad trade deal with the US. Trust in the Conservative Party amongst farming communities is at an all-time low.
- Zoom conferencing means that there is now massively less demand for first class international air flights that damage the environment.
- Opinion polls show a strong majority of UK voters now think that it was a mistake to leave the EU and that proportion has increased steadily.
- Marcus Rashford forced the government to take action to ease hunger amongst children.
- The obvious truth that black lives matter is now asserted with increasing confidence by increasing numbers, no matter how strong the resistance.
- The argument over whether there is a climate crisis has been won. The only remaining argument is over whether it is safe to rely on government promises to stop making things worse by 2050.
- Public awareness of the downside of consuming plastic products has never been stronger. Many producers are changing their policies under consumer pressure.
- The British government has given up trying to force through fracking in the face of massive public resistance.
- Any time it chooses, the Bank of England can cancel the bulk of British government debts and we don’t have to go through another wave of austerity. Unless, of course, the government chooses to do so.
- The vast majority of British people have made huge efforts to support vulnerable people in their communities during the various lockdowns. The bad behaviour of a few has proved to be genuinely exceptional and the good behaviour of the many is the norm.
- Many more people in the UK are proud and confident enough to follow their own sexuality. Fear of being different has reduced for many.
- The year 2020 has come to an end and 2021 will hopefully be a whole lot better
And a final thought that might cheer you. At the last general election, almost 53 percent of voters chose a left-of-centre party and just over 47 percent opted for right-wingers. Since then, opinion polls have consistently shown a solid majority of people in the country favour progressive ideas. Even the first past the post political system can’t exclude the majority opinion for ever.