Keeping up with the French Joneses — the Germans a little later?

Keith Hudson

According to the Office for National Statistics, the population of Britain went up by almost half a million in the past year to more than 64 million.  “Yippee!”, say the politicians (privately, of course), particularly senior . . . government politicians, “We’ll be overtaking France soon.”  Also soon — they hope — if they manage to get their West of England high-speed railway off the ground — “We’ll have a slick, modern-looking railway just like the French Train a Grande Vitesse (TVG)”.

“Ah, but we needed more immigrants,” the politicians say, “in order to have more young workers to pay taxes to support our older population living on welfare and state pensions.”  But then they usually make themselves scarce before you can ask the obvious supplementary questions. “But what will happen when the immigrants and their children also grow old?  Do we have to keep on having more and more immigrants?”.

There’s nothing quite like the ‘keeping up with Joneses’ syndrome when politicians meet together and compare their status accoutrements.  If anything it’s even stronger than Mr Smith just down the road who’s had to buy a new car or Mrs Smith who’s found it necessary to have a kitchen make-over.

Keeping up with the French first (66 million), the Germans a little later (83 million) perhaps?  The competition between Britain, France and Germany as being the BIg Man of Europe has been going on for 300 years so far.  How much longer does this absurd contest have to go on?

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