Simon Carr: Is all this gloom really justified?

Maybe every portrait is a self-portrait and we fear we’re doomed
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The Independent Online

The cynic must be a dying breed. If you believe this is really what Britain is like you'd commit suicide. This isn't to say any of the following is untrue, unfairly reported or distorted. Maybe it is, maybe it isn't. But the papers are full of it.

Her Majesty's Government has suppressed a report proving ill-equipped, barely-trained teenage soldiers are being mutilated in Afghanistan while at the same time the Prime Minister, First Secretary and the Foreign Office conspired with an Islamic regime to release a mass murdering terrorist in order to get cheaper oil. This negates the only reason we are in Afghanistan: to keep our "special relationship" with the United States.

Meanwhile, General Dannatt who has spoken out against the action in Afghanistan has had his expenses published – possibly in a smear attempt by the Defence Ministry.

Council chiefs on salaries higher than the Prime Minister go on free trips to Cannes while hiking council tax, restricting rubbish collection, prohibiting cake sales at fairs on health and safety grounds and insisting traditional gatherings are policed by marshals. NHS bosses fiddle the figures to show government targets are being met while patients die.

Banks make one-way bets where they collect enormous bonuses if they win and taxpayer bail-outs if they lose. They don't understand – because nobody can – what the odds are in their bet.

Unelected quangos, authorities and public servants are engaged in an unofficial revolution to monitor, restrain, intimidate and control the British people, to suppress their instincts and reprogramme their behaviour. They can retire 10 years before private sector workers and on lifelong index-linked pensions.

Schools don't allow parents to watch sports days in case their number include paedophiles trying to take photographs of the children. A dog was attacked by thugs; they attempted to set it on fire. The same thing happened to a five-year-old girl battling cancer.

The public finances are the worst in the western world. When the Queen dies, Charles will do and say such stupid things the monarchy won't survive.

The Government is paying a generation of morbidly obese teenage mothers to breed an underclass whose largest contribution to society is to stimulate the narcotics trade and appear on reality TV shows. Their mothers are on prescription anti-depressants. Their children kill each other and innocent bystanders with knives.

Academic results rise every year while performance falls as a free market exam boards make their papers more accessible to flatter schools and please politicians. Classroom behaviour makes learning impossible which is why a quarter of all school leavers are illiterate.

Meanwhile, on the lighter side of the news, a murdered Playboy model was so badly mutilated she could only be identified by her breast implants.

Maybe it's us. That is, the print media. Maybe every portrait is a self-portrait and we fear we are going to be doomed, ruined and mutilated by the internet and this picture of Britain is a product of that paranoia.

Or is that willfully optimistic?