And an aside about the NHS: I’m for socialised medicine but some of the rules here are ridiculous. While I’m grateful that I can receive free healthcare without paying taxes, I don’t think that should be the case except for A&E. I’ve been waiting a couple weeks to see a private doctor because I need a referral from an NHS GP (ie. I need government permission) to see a private doctor and the NHS didn’t want to let me until it tried out some options. Do you know how enraging it is to be denied access to a specialist that you would pay out of your own pocket, so that some government-paid GP can take a cursory glance in an appointment capped at 10 minutes, and treat you via method of elimination?[/QUOTE]
Everyone pays VAT if nothing else, there’s no way not to contribute to the system in one way or another.
Think your experience with the private specialist is particular to the case. No expert on the interaction between the NHS and private sector but you can go private for check-ups and there’s no reason why a private GP wouldn’t be able to offer a referral themselves. So shouldn’t be necessary to visit an NHS doctor, unless there’s a particular set of circumstances.
As for Scottish independence and the SNP - certainly wouldn’t classify it as an anti-British issue, simply one of self-governance. I think it’s become an increasingly prominent issue in line with the shift of the English party political mainstream towards centre right fence sitting with Blair, Brown and Cameron. Scotland’s always been one of the most Socialist parts of the country, the Tories have never done well there and as was mentioned Nigel Farage and UKIP are pretty much universally loathed. Add on the cuts and the marginalisation of the traditional left in England and you’ve got a political culture which drives a wedge between England and Scotland and to a lesser extent England and Wales. The Scottish Nationalist Party and Plaid Cymru, their Welsh counterparts, have both tried to show off their Socialist credentials to reinforce that sense of division.
UKIP are, in my eyes, a media creation more than anything. Beyond being anti-EU they’re pretty much a random mash up of any right wing ideals they can steal supporters from the Conservatives with. Subsequently there’s been a fair few cases of UKIP members and councillors coming out with everything from racist to anti-semitic to conspiracy theory related rubbish. Nigel Farage has repeatedly made excuses for that sort of thing but it shows how sorely it’s lacking any coherent base by which to filter out the extremists and nutters. They’ve done well through protest votes, especially with the Tories fighting themselves on Europe and gay marriage but I can’t see that holding up at a general election when the bulk of their poached voters will return to the mainstream Tory party to rally against Labour. Which I suspect will leave them with only the crazies.
If you look at their economic policies for example there’s a pretty incoherent selection of things they’d like to spend huge amounts of cash on with no explanation at all of how they’re going to pay for it. Like the BNP (British National Party, far far right) and EDL (English Defence League far right/random hooligan street fighting types) they’ll be the media flavour of the month for a while to distract from the cuts and add flavour to the Conservative’s break down and then they’ll be replaced with the next thing. What happens if the Tories revolt against Cameron is probably more relevant to our right than Nigel Farage’s delusions of grandeur.
@ Lord Brennus - The fear of immigrants is definitely getting worse. Compared to mainland Europe I don’t think it’s been a major problem here for a fair amount of time now. But economic cuts + the media’s fetish for fixating on increasingly extreme right wing groups (more for the sake of news narrative than because they have any support) + the collapse of the traditional Left as an outlet for unrest have all come together to make things worse. Still nothing compared to somewhere like France though.
I think guns are an American obsession which the British will never understand. Our history is too different from your own and our resistance to the state has never taken that form, plus we’ve never accepted guns as part of our wider culture. Personally I can see some logic in the defence of gun ownership in the US, although I’d say the right to protect against tyranny would make far more sense in the context of a community arsenal than in everyone packing whatever they want. Sad to hear that you wouldn’t feel comfortable not having a gun, an alien concept to me. I remember one American I knew here who was working in a shop and a guy with mental health issues came in and rambled to himself for a while. He was well known locally and completely harmless but I could see why she might be a little shaken if she wasn’t used to stuff like that, first thing she said though was that she was scared he’d have a gun. Not a thought that would ever have dawned on me given how uncommon they are here.