So here we are. This is the end, beautiful friends, and I have to say I’m angry. Not angry at the end of this title’s print version; that’s more of a sadness. But angry at all the things that have not been fixed or that have got worse since I wrote my first piece here more than 20 years ago, despite all the people who have appeared in these pages, promising to make them better.
Angry that successive politicians have broken their promises and our hopes, so that even when the country is in a mess, millions of people just don’t bother to vote, believing it won’t make any difference.
Angry that there is so little outcry when a Chancellor uses a sugar tax (which will hit the poor hardest) to sweeten the bitter pill of a Budget that contains more than £1bn a year in cuts to the care of disabled people who need help to get dressed or go to the loo.
I’m angry that a cabinet of millionaires persists in telling us we’re all in this together. Even Iain Duncan Smith, architect of chaos and misery in his welfare reforms, doesn’t believe that any more, according to his surprise resignation letter. When even IDS says the cuts to benefits are too cruel, you know they really are too cruel.
A million people a year are forced to use food banks to feed themselves and their children. Nearly five million live in food poverty.
I’m angry that we’ve let things get so bad. Angry that so much of it is unnecessary.
Ceceline, a mother of two I met just before Christmas, happened to write a number in the wrong place on a form. The £70 a week with which she feeds and clothes herself, her son and her daughter was stopped without warning for a month, driving her to the brink of despair. There are so many stories like that: nearly half of all food bank clients are there because of failures in the system.
I’m angry that our Government has so obviously lost all sense of compassion. Angry that we tax people for daring to have a second bedroom, even if they care for a severely disabled partner and need to sleep in a separate bed sometimes, to get some rest.
Angry that these life-changing, misery-inducing decisions are made by ministers with multiple bedrooms, second homes and staff.
Anger is not all I feel right now, by any means, but it’s a good start.
I’m angry that junior doctors have to strike. Angry that hospitals still have to warn people off coming to overstretched accident and emergency departments, as Wigan has just done for the third time in a fortnight. Angry at the break-up of a health service that has cared for successive prime ministers’ children.
This is personal. David Cameron swore the NHS was safe in his hands when I sat in his kitchen for the IoS a decade ago. He talked about his debt to the doctors and nurses who cared for his son Ivan. Yet here we are on the other side of one catastrophic initiative after another, with health workers in revolt.
Tamal Ray, a junior doctor, says: “For the first time in my career, I can see real unity among my colleagues. Our eyes have been opened to the subtle dismantling of a healthcare system we believe in and this has inspired a movement for change.”
He’s hopeful. I’m angry that it has come to this; that we live in a sick, unjust society, after all the fine talk. Angry, too, that the gap between us is getting wider. Angry that a short walk across London takes you from a £300m house in a ward where the average income is £100,000 to another where people are living on £13,000 a year and the life expectancy of a man is 30 years shorter.
Angry that the billionaires who own such fancy houses live here, play here but pay no tax here at all.
Angry that on match days across the nation, footballers earning astronomic sums are served by waiters, stewards and cleaners on less than the living wage. And angry that friends who burn with a passion for fairness go weak at the knees when it comes to the (once) beautiful game. They turn a blind eye to the riches, the excesses of their heroes and the utter disconnection between the players and the communities in whose name they play.
I’m angry that we have become a nation that will let you in if you’re loaded, but will stick you in a detention centre if you happen to be poor, sick or in need of asylum. I saw that for myself in Yarl’s Wood, where a woman from Sri Lanka tried to tell me her story, her mind fractured by the pressure of being held there for so long without trial or explanation. It’s inhumane.
This is not a party political broadcast: the current situation is the result of deals done by the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party as much as the Tories. We fell in turn for Maggie, Tony and Nick, like dizzy new lovers, and were let down every time.
UK news in pictures
UK news in pictures
1/30 17 August 2016
Children enjoy the cold water of a fountain in London during a hot and sunny day as temperatures rose up to 25 Celsius (77F)
2/30 16 August 2016
3/30 15 August 2016
A supporter of Jeremy Corbyn holds up a placard at a Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) rally in north London, organised by 'Jeremy for Labour', a group supporting Corbyn's re-election as Party leader
4/30 15 August 2016
ritish opposition Labour Party leadership contender Owen Smith delivers a speech on the National Health Service at The University of Salford in Salford, north west England, on August 15, 2016. The result of the contest between encumbent leader Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith for leadership of the Labour Party is set to be announced at a special conference on September 24
5/30 14 August 2016
Historical reenactors take part in the 'Lytham 1940s Wartime Festival' in Lytham St Annes. The two-day festival features displays, exhibitions, musical entertainment and live-action reenactment of life during the Second World War
6/30 13 August 2016
People throw brightly coloured powder at the Holi Festival of Colours at Wembley Park in London
7/30 12 August 2016
People relax on boats on the Serpentine lake in London. Temperatures in London have reached 27 degrees centigrade with pleasant weather also expected over the weekend
8/30 11 August 2016
Munduruku tribesman General Chief Arnaldo Kaba Munduruku (C), from the Tapajos Basin in the Amazon rainforest, is joined by Greenpeace activists, some of whom are dressed in monkey costumes, as he speaks to the media outside the Siemens' UK headquarters in Camberley. Greenpeace activists join two members of the Amazonian Munduruku tribe at German engineering company Siemens' UK headquarters to protest the building of mega dams in the Brazilian Amazon and to demand a meeting with senior management at the company
9/30 10 August 2016
Baby gorilla Afia interacts with her keeper Joanne Rudd on 'Gorilla Island' at Bristol Zoo. The hand reared Western lowland gorilla who was born at the zoo by emergency C-section on February 12 is taken out onto the island daily to help build her confidence and awareness of what will eventually become her new home. Although Afia's mother Kera, still isn't aware that Afia is hers it is hoped that the young gorilla who is enjoying a varied diet of sweet potato, leafy lettuce and pellets, will continue to get to know her family under the watchful eyes of her dedicated keepers
10/30 9 August 2016
A surfer catches a wave as the sun sets at Fistral Beach in Newquay in Cornwall. The Cornish seaside town will play host to the annual Boardmasters festival. Since 1981, the Boardmasters surfing competition has been held in Newquay and is now part of a larger five-day surf, skate and music festival becoming an integral part of the continually popular British surf scene growing from humble beginnings, to one of the biggest events on the British surfing calendar
11/30 24 July 2016
Newly appointed as manager of the England football team, Sam Allardyce poses for a photograph with an England scarf
Martin Rickett/PA Wire
12/30 23 July 2016
British Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond (R), and British Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Transport and Minister for Aviation, Lord Tariq Ahmad (L), listen to London City Airport CEO Declan Collier, as they pass a British Airways aircraft during a tour of the airport in east London on July 27, 2016. The British government hailed a £344 million investment to expand London City Airport on Wednesday as evidence Britain was "open for business" despite its Brexit vote
STEFAN ROUSSEAU/AFP/Getty Images
13/30 22 July 2016
Labour leadership candidate Owen Smith speaks at a rally in London
14/30 21 July 2016
Police close a road close to RAF Marham in Norfolk, after a serviceman was threatened with a knife near to the base
Chris Radburn/PA Wire
15/30 20 July 2016
Tour de France winner Chris Froome celebrates on the podium after the twenty-first and last stage of the Tour de France cycling race in Paris, France
AP Photo/Christophe Ena
16/30 19 July 2016
Merlin Entertainment’s Talking Donkeys are put through their paces in preparation for three days of children’s donkey rides, celebrating the start of the summer holidays in London
17/30 18 July 2016
David Barber, The Queen's Swan Marker, holds a cygnet, or young swan, during Swan Upping, the annual census of the swan population on the River Thames, in a week long exercise where unmarked mute swans are now counted - rather than eaten - in a tradition exercised by the British Crown for nearly 900 years, at Sunbury
18/30 18 July 2016
A 'Vote LEAVE' battle bus is re-branded outside the Houses of Parliament in Westminster by the environmental campaign group Greenpeace. The bus which was used during the European Union referendum campaign and had the statement "We send the EU £350 million a week let's fund our NHS instead" along the side was covered with thousands of questions for the new Prime Minister Theresa May and her government about what a 'Brexit' might mean for the environment
19/30 17 July 2016
US director Steven Spielberg poses as he arrives to attend the UK premiere of the film "The BFG" in Leicester Square
20/30 16 July 2016
A Raticate, a character from Pokemon Go, a mobile game that has become a global phenomenon, in front of the gates of Downing Street in London
21/30 16 July 2016
London landmark, The London Eye is illuminated in blue, white and red lights, resembling the colours of the French flag, as Britons express their solidarity following the deadly attack in the southern French city of Nice A gunman smashed a truck into a crowd of revellers celebrating Bastille Day in the French Riviera city of Nice, killing at least 84 people in what President Francois Hollande on Friday called a "terrorist" attack. / AFP / CHRIS J RATCLIFFE (Photo credit should read CHRIS J RATCLIFFE/AFP/Getty Images)
22/30 15 July 2016
Armed police outside the French Embassy in London, following the death of at least 84 people, including several children, after a terrorist drove a truck through crowds celebrating Bastille Day in Nice
23/30 14 July 2016
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson addresses staff inside the Foreign Office in London
24/30 13 July 2016
New British Prime Minister Theresa May speaks to the media outside her official residence 10 Downing Street in London
25/30 13 July 2016
David Cameron makes a speech outside 10 Downing Street in London, before leaving for Buckingham Palace for an audience with Queen Elizabeth II to formally resign as Prime Minister
26/30 12 July 2016
Former Queen guitarist and campaigner Brian May poses with people dressed as Badgers during a photocall in London. The event was organised to 'urge' the government to abandon their planned Badger Cull which is to be rolled out in the Autumn
27/30 11 July 2016
Britain's new Conservative Party leader Theresa May speaks to members of the media at The St Stephen's entrance to the Palace of Westminster in London. Theresa May will become the prime minister who leads Britain's into Brexit talks after her only rival in the race to succeed David Cameron pulled out unexpectedly. May was left as the only contender standing after the withdrawal from the leadership race of Andrea Leadsom, who faced criticism for suggesting she was more qualified to be premier because she had children
28/30 11 July 2016
Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is seen on the concourse at Waterloo Station in London. Ghostbusters take over Waterloo Station as Stay Puft Marshmallow Man smashes through the concourse during the morning rush-hour
Getty Images for Sony Pictures
29/30 10 July 2016
Demonstrators from the Black Lives Matter movement march through central London, during a demonstration against the killing of black men by police in the US
30/30 10 July 2016
Members of the British Royal Air Force Aerobatic Team, the Red Arrows, perform ahead of the British Formula One Grand Prix at Silverstone motor racing circuit in Silverstone
I’m angry that the word politician has become synonymous with liar. Angry at the breathtaking cycle of privilege, in which the same well-connected people take turns to pop up and lecture us about how society should be run, without anything ever actually seeming to change.
Meet Lord Adonis, for example. His Labour party had 13 years to fix the roads and rails, but now he is the chairman of a Tory-born commission demanding that they be fixed immediately. As if we would not remember. As if we have the memory spans of goldfish. Do we? I’m angry that it seems we do.
“If the North is to become a powerhouse, it has to be better connected,” says Adonis, who could have made that happen years ago.
And here comes his old boss, Tony Blair, with advice about “our destiny” in Europe. The man who took us into a disastrous war in Iraq before floating off into some kind of weird personal fantasy about being president of the world. No thanks Tony, we know where your strategies lead. We don’t really want to bomb Berlin.
Go back to one of your many mansions, in your £27m property portfolio. When a Labour prime minister goes on to become one of the super-rich, there is surely something to get angry about.
No wonder the Labour Party is still in shock at being seduced by this man.
But it’s time to get over that, learn the lessons of what was good about him and chuck out the bad, ditch the guilt and get a grip, surely? Otherwise the party will keep imploding, keep losing.
I’m angry that there is no serious opposition left right now, when we need it more than ever, with the Greens a shambles and the Lib Dems all but vanished. The strong voice of the SNP is weakened when it plays hypocritical games such as meddling in the vote over English Sunday trading laws.
Some people will say all this is sanctimonious. Tough. It also happens to be true.
You will have your own reasons to be angry, I’m sure. I’m angry that successive governments have allowed a situation to develop where a whole generation cannot afford to buy and barely to rent.
Angry that in the lifetime of the IoS we went from supporting the brightest kids from poor backgrounds through college to saddling them with debt.
I’m proud that The Independent on Sunday was the first to oppose that misguided war and that at least a million of us marched. But I’m angry that the war happened anyway, and that it did what the intelligence services warned it would, turning Iraq into a crucible of terrorism.
My first piece for the Sindy back in 1993 was an interview with Baroness Nicholson about Amar, the Iraqi Kurdish boy she had adopted to save him from war. They are still being bombed, those children, only now by Turkey. The world has changed a great deal since those days. It feels even more dangerous. Please God don’t let the US choose a racist thug as its next president.
Let’s be honest, though. All this anger is draining. And it’s not enough. We have to turn away and look for something more positive, in order to go on.
There has been so much to celebrate in our years together. Peace in Northern Ireland, for example, which we almost take for granted now. Great advances in our understanding of the universe around us – gravitational waves, the Higgs boson – and many lives saved by medical science.
My second piece for The IoS was an interview with the singer Holly Johnson, who came out as having Aids in 1994, when everybody thought it was a death sentence. He has a new song on the Eddie the Eagle soundtrack. I’ve just heard him on the radio and it made me smile.
The Olympics were a brief but glorious taste of the kind of happy, inclusive, confident place Britain could be. The Happy, Pink and Rainbow Lists in the IoS have celebrated some of the best of us – the kindest, most generous, most determined, bravest.
I have met and interviewed so many inspiring people here over time. One of my favourites is Ted Jackson, a middle-aged schoolmaster from Surrey who ran seven marathons in seven days on seven continents last year, from the Antarctic to the African desert and on to Australia.
Ted is not a natural runner. He’s short and stocky and doesn’t like to train much. But he does want people to know about Overcoming MS, the charity that has helped his wife, Sophie. So he does superhuman things, by strength of will alone. Now he and his son are about to attempt a desert marathon and a transatlantic row together for the same cause. Extraordinary.
We all have to find ways to keep going, like Ted. Ways of turning our anger at what is happening into a positive energy. Ways to keep believing in and working for fairness and equality.
Keep demanding more of our representatives and refusing to take no for an answer. Keep speaking truth to power. Keep telling the world about the people and things that make us happy.
That’s what we have tried to do on these pages, with your support. And that’s what I want to say, really, as our conversation here comes to an end: let’s keep getting angry, keep fighting, keep celebrating. What else can we do?
Thank you. It has been a privilege to write for you here. Let’s hope we meet again somewhere. Until then, keep on keeping on. Goodbye.Reuse content