Is society dead?
Margaret Thatcher declared that society was dead, but was she right, or is the state just out of step with the people?
It was Margaret Thatcher who said there was “no such thing as society”. She uttered the infamous words back in 1987, but she could perhaps have been reflecting on the year ahead of us. As we enter 2017, is society dead?
For those who strive to build a strong British community, the events of the past 12 months paint a bleak picture. Brexit has left our nation more divided than at any time since Thatcher first made her pronouncement. Not only have attitudes towards immigration hardened in the wake of the vote to leave the EU, but hate crimes against those from racial or religious minorities have risen rapidly. Racist slurs many of us thought buried in the past are re-emerging, and there is a generation of children being defined by their ancestry rather than their potential. Meanwhile, the political rhetoric around immigration has hardened as politicians across the spectrum seek to fight the growth of the right on their own territory. It seems nobody is willing to welcome a stranger with open arms anymore.
Across the Atlantic, Donald Trump’s message of individualism triumphed in the presidential election, with the social cornerstones of Barack Obama’s eight-year administration – Obamacare, in particular – now at risk of repeal. Back at home, the promotion of Theresa May from Home Secretary to Prime Minister ignited a candle of hope for some. Her victory speech on the steps of Downing Street promised that she would govern for the many, not the few. She emoted over the plight of the “just about managing”. But then we got to her first Autumn Statement, and the Chancellor had given nothing away.