Over on IMDB I posted the following, in a conversation about House of Cards:
Well, that's one of the funny things about the Thatcher years. Having grown up in them, there was a sense that if you had the initiative, if you had the guts, it was possible to massively improve your lot in life. This was the age of the opening up of the financial sector, where the popular image of the stockbroker went from genteel upper class type to sharp-witted working class kid with an eye for the main chance. As older industries (mining, heavy manufacture etc) declined (or were precipitated into collapse), plenty more businesses started up, particularly in ICT and the service sector. With the sell-off of social housing, home ownership among the working class boomed. The flip side to all this was that you had to have the start-up cash, you had to have the bright idea, and the safety net if you failed (or if circumstances caused you to fail) was massively reduced.
There was also a regional aspect to all this. Life in the investment-attracting, high employment south was pretty good. In other areas...not so good.
Then came the nineties and the Major years, and the 1990-92 recession. The sense there was that those who had made their money were pulling up the drawbridge behind them and leaving others to flounder. Whereas the 80s had been a time of conspicuous consumption, they had also been a time of conspicuous charity (think Live Aid for instance). The early 90s saw a harder attitude develop, that people shouldn't be a burden on society. OK, the warning signs of this had been there in the last few years of Thatcher's premiership (basically after her 1987 election win and the implosion of the eastern bloc she got a mix of a God complex and a sense of unease about Britain's role in a post-Cold War world), but they really became mainstream under John Major.
There are a few other things at play too. As I've said before, people are generally happy to pay for things they benefit from. The problem we've had since the 2008 banking crisis is that there has been huge amounts of taxation with no visible reward. Add to that things such as 'green taxes' and indeed anything smacking of eco-friendliness - it's a deferred benefit, with the reward coming years down the line. It's like lightbulbs - eco-friendly ones may save money and last longer, but they take a moment or two to warm up. Incandescent ones though - bang, instant light.
And then there's the fact that our expectations are getting more and more, the bar being shifted ever higher. If a previously shitty hospital gets massive investment and improves, we don't think "hey wow", instead we grumble that it should never have been in a poor state to begin with, and find something else to complain about. We don't say we're glad of globalisation or improved technology because we can talk to our friends in the US on a relatively cheap iPad because it was made in a Chinese factory - instead we complain about having to fork out a few hundred quid rather than being thankful we didn't pay thousands for it. Likewise, while we were once content to visit a record shop and pay a few quid for a single, now we expect the album to be downloaded in moments for free.
The crisis will come soon, because people think their pay day is due, the day they finally get the reward for all the years they 'suffered'. It won't come, and then there will be blood.
"There ain't nothing you fear more than a bad headline, is there? You'd rather live in shit than let the world see you work a shovel."