Opinion

Sam Delaney: I'm not just angry at the king, I'm angry at everything we've become

Sam Delaney is angry that the optimism around the UK '90s has given way to a malaise marked by poverty, corruption and deference

Coronation

Photo: Anthony Harvey/Shutterstock

Every sensible person knows the ‘culture wars’ are a contrivance being played out by a tiny number of angry idiots who have been duped by a failing government and their media sponsors into believing that men and women being allowed to piss in the same public convenience presents an existential threat to humankind. 

It’s all a scam, like a man at a trestle table asking you to guess which paper cup the ball is under. Only carried out with even less guile. It’s rage fuel for idiots. There is no woke conspiracy or new liberal elite. There are just human beings trying to get along and survive in increasingly difficult conditions. 

The Tory government has made this country poorer, unhappier, less productive and more divided over their 13 years in power. UK inequality is among the worst in the developed world. Our average life expectancy is in decline. By every measure, the final 13 years of Queen Elizabeth’s life were overseen by the worst series of governments to ever serve her.

Bleak stuff, right? What a boring, middle-aged, unpatriotic, cliched dad I am. Yep, I am all of those things. Sue me. It was difficult for me to catch glimpses of the coronation (I tried my best to avoid it, but it was as insidious as it was ludicrous) without becoming angry, outspoken and – yes – boring. 

“Dad, it’s not that deep, it’s just a party,” said my 15-year-old daughter as I ranted at her about the gold carriages, preposterous ceremony and fetishised news reporting that surrounded it.

“It’s a party that cost us £250 million quid when there are kids surviving off food banks!” I said.

“Why are you so angry?” she asked.

“YOU should be angry too,” I replied. She told me she’s too young to get angry over stuff she can’t control. I thought that was pretty insightful. 

The King’s knees-up was almost 30 years to the day I started my A levels. Back in 1993, as I stood on the edge of adulthood, there was optimism in the air. John Major’s Tories were on their way out, the monarchy was less popular than ever and it seemed that the weird, embarrassing and restrictive class systems that pervaded the country were about to evaporate. 

In the years that followed it briefly seemed like they had. Not only did Tony Blair’s government invest in public services and social welfare while growing the economy, there was something culturally progressive going on too. From Oasis growing from a council estate in Burnage to become the biggest band in the world, to the books of Irvine Welsh and an art revolution driven by the likes of Tracey Emin and Damien Hirst, it felt like Britain was finally a meritocracy. 

Working-class people with flair, energy and wit were thriving in every sector of society. Being posh was profoundly unfashionable. This was the world I graduated into in 1997, joining a magazine publishing industry that was booming – and dominated at the time by state school kids like me.

So how did we get to where we are today: a polluted island of poverty, corruption and gormless deference, where senior politicians are always on the make and disenfranchised families are duped into waving little flags at an unelected head of state while he grumpily has a bejewelled hat stuck on his head by a man dressed as a wizard?

My generation came of age at a point when we had every opportunity to make this country the progressive, egalitarian, beautiful Jerusalem we knew it should be. But we failed and I’m not sure how or when. The establishment classes took back control, like they always do, while we weren’t looking. 

I tried to explain this to my daughter. That I wasn’t just angry with the King, or the government, or the flag-waving drips on the Mall. I was angry at myself for expecting things to keep getting better without putting much effort into making sure they did. I don’t think she was listening. Frankly, who can blame her? 

Read more from Sam Delaney here

Do you have a story to tell or opinions to share about this topic? We want to hear from you. And we want to share your views with more people. Get in touch and tell us more.

Sort Your Head Out book cover

Sort Your Head Out: Mental Health Without All the Bollocks by Sam Delaney is out now (Constable £18.99)You can buy it from The Big Issue shop on Bookshop.org, which helps to support The Big Issue and independent bookshops.

This article is taken from The Big Issue magazine, which exists to give homeless, long-term unemployed and marginalised people the opportunity to earn an income. To support our work buy a copy! If you cannot reach your local vendor, you can still click HERE to subscribe to The Big Issue today or give a gift subscription to a friend or family member. You can also purchase one-off issues from The Big Issue Shop or The Big Issue app, available now from the App Store or Google Play.

Support the Big Issue

For over 30 years, the Big Issue has been committed to ending poverty in the UK. In 2024, our work is needed more than ever. Find out how you can support the Big Issue today.
Vendor martin Hawes

Recommended for you

View all
We took the Home Office to task for lying on modern slavery. We still don’t have answers
car washes have been highlighted as modern slavery hotspots
MAYA ESSLEMONT

We took the Home Office to task for lying on modern slavery. We still don’t have answers

Westminsterism may think it knows best – but dismantling it can help us move forward
Affected families in Westminster after the damning report into the infected blood scandal was published
John Bird

Westminsterism may think it knows best – but dismantling it can help us move forward

We can make the four-day working week a reality – and make it work for everyone. Here's how
Andrew Fennell

We can make the four-day working week a reality – and make it work for everyone. Here's how

How the life-affirming power of the chicken helped me understand grief and loss
Catherine Swire

How the life-affirming power of the chicken helped me understand grief and loss

Most Popular

Read All
Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits
Renters: A mortgage lender's window advertising buy-to-let products
1.

Renters pay their landlords' buy-to-let mortgages, so they should get a share of the profits

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal
Pound coins on a piece of paper with disability living allowancve
2.

Exclusive: Disabled people are 'set up to fail' by the DWP in target-driven disability benefits system, whistleblowers reveal

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over
next dwp cost of living payment 2023
3.

Cost of living payment 2024: Where to get help now the scheme is over

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know
4.

Strike dates 2023: From train drivers to NHS doctors, here are the dates to know