Nostalgia nation: Almost half of Brits think the UK was better 20 years ago

Jasper Jolly
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Paul Gascoigne
Paul Gascoigne helped the England football team to the Euro '96 semi-finals 21 years ago (Source: Getty)

Almost half of British people think the country was better 20 years ago than it is today, according to a new survey.

Some 48 per cent of Britons believe the UK was a better place to live when Tony Blair was just starting his tenure as Prime Minister and England’s football team had just made a semi-final run in Euro ‘96 on home turf, according to a survey by think tank Chatham House.

During this time the UK’s GDP per head has risen by around 66 per cent, according to the World Bank, despite the effects of the global financial crisis.

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Yet Britain is actually slightly less nostalgic than the European average, excluding Britain. Some 54 per cent overall believe their country has become a worse place to live in over the last two decades.

Even a large chunk of the so-called elite, defined as those who wield influence in politics, the media and civil society, believe their country has got worse, with 32 per cent preferring the past.

The divide between “elites” and the general public is stark in other areas, with half of elites disagreeing that luck plays a bigger role in success than hard work. Only a quarter of the broader European public disagreed.

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Meanwhile only seven per cent of European elites think Brexit is a major threat to the EU. Although perhaps in a reflection of the broader effects of Brexit on the mood within Europe, 45 per cent are concerned by the rise of populist and anti-European parties.

More than seven in 10 members of the elite said they have benefited from European integration, while only a third of the broader public said they have benefited, while almost the same proportion believed they have not.

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