Britain has become a nation of overgrown toddlers

Dec 31, 2017 by

by Dominic Sandbrook, Mailonline:

What was the defining image of 2017? Theresa May, standing grim-faced outside No. 10 the day after the General Election? Young revellers cheering Jeremy Corbyn at the Glastonbury music festival? The blackened ruins of Grenfell Tower, or the horror at the Manchester Arena?

My choice would be rather less specific. When I look back on a year of remarkably grim and gloomy headlines, the image that swims into my mind is that of an overgrown toddler hunched over a keyboard, its face contorted with outrage.

And no, I’m not just talking about Donald Trump, with his lamentable penchant for sending inflammatory tweets in the early hours of the morning. I’m talking about the ugly new face of Britain, a nation that in the past 12 months has seemed in danger of losing touch with sanity, perspective and rational judgment.

Historians will surely remember this as the year that delivered one of the biggest political surprises in modern history, with Mrs May losing her Commons majority as her great election gamble backfired.

They will be struck, too, by the stunning transformation in Jeremy Corbyn’s image, which saw him converted from deluded loser to potential Prime Minister in a matter of weeks.

For me, though, what defined Britain in 2017 more than anything else was a growing sense of hysteria.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines hysteria as ‘exaggerated or uncontrollable emotion or excitement’. And I think those words perfectly capture the increasingly self-righteous, strident and intolerant tone of our public life.

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