So yes, the Labour Party let the country down hugely. Gordon Brown let the country down hugely. The idea that you could have a manic bull market under a Labour government and then for it to say, we'll give public money away to bail these people out, is an extraordinary thing. It's a sign of how weak social democratic culture has become in Britain that people are not amazed by what has happened. It's not talked about that Gordon Brown and Ed Balls can appear in the street without people throwing horse manure at them. I don't agree with Jonathan Sacks at all. If British culture, Western culture, depends on religion then we're in a huge mess. It is impossible for serious people to believe in God any more, or at least the God of the Bible, the God of the Koran, the God of the Torah. You just can't do it. So if you're going to pin Western culture to decaying ideological systems then you've lost already.
Aside from that, this is where I agree a lot with George: there is a problem that people in universities, in schools, in the media, who believe in high standards have to defend themselves against vulgar, money-grubbing people who attack them. But they don't have the language to defend themselves. They can't just mock the people from television whom George was describing. Or say, "Why can't you just be an honest scam artist? Why can't you just say, ‘Hey, I've made a lot of money, I've got a nice house, I've got a nice car', and leave us alone." If they speak plainly this elite accuses them of being "elitist". But then again, I'm not so pessimistic about British culture or indeed European culture.
DJ: Can you give us a reason for optimism?
NC: We have democracy. We have freedom of speech and freedom of thought and to some extent I'm arguing it should be extended. However poor a lot of universities are, about a third of young people are attending them. Incidentally, because of the crash, because of unemployment, students are going to be a lot more tough-minded and a lot more determined to learn than perhaps the preceding generation were because I noticed their shock. I am talking about those who were born in 1989, 1990, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, and all they had seen around them was a continuously growing economy. Their parents were able to say to them you can take a gap year, you can do this, you can do that, but as long as you work hard and go to university it will be fine, and now it's not. And so they are toughening up.
DJ: I hope they are toughening up. The first thing they did was riot last Christmas and it was the riots of the elite that preceded the riots of the underclass.
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