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There’s so much for we British to be cheerful about

Elton John at Glastonbury: still standing, like Britain. Harry Durrant/Getty

I was at private dinner recently, says Camilla Cavendish in the FT, where a bunch of business people were swapping “bleak predictions” about Britain. Eventually, a rich American piped up. “What the hell is wrong with you guys?” he barked. He had lived and worked in London for years, he said, because “it’s still the best city in the world”. He has a point. We Brits used to be associated with the Blitz-era stoicism of “Keep Calm and Carry On”. Now, we seem to be in the grip of “national despondency”, with headlines about “strikes, mortgages or crumbling bridges” cast as yet more evidence of this once-great nation’s terminal decline.

But there’s so much to be positive about. Our institutions didn’t crumble under Boris Johnson and Liz Truss – “they triumphed over them”. We have our first Asian prime minister and his ethnicity is “simply not an issue”; in a recent poll, 80% of ethnic minority respondents said Britain was a better country for them than America, Germany or France. The Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine was distributed to developing countries “at cost”, and our researchers found four treatments which saved “millions of lives”. We’re well placed in emerging industries like AI. Of course, we Brits have always had a “melancholic streak”, preferring Keats to Wordsworth. Pink Floyd weren’t making it up when they sang “Hanging on in quiet desperation / Is the English way”. But those of us who “stare into the darkness” must remember: we’re also the nation of Elton John belting out I’m Still Standing in a shiny gold suit.