An exceptionally British hypocrisy

The truth behind appeals to the great British character

As we live through seemingly endless Covid-19 restrictions, the hubris of the British government in the Spring of 2020 looks increasingly bizarre. Prime Minister Johnson claimed that the British were exceptionally able in the face of adversity. But this was simply a case of hypocrisy argue Lisa Bortolotti and Kathleen Murphy-Hollies. 


In February 2020, Prime Minister Boris Johnson argued that some governments in the world had to stand by freedom of exchange, contrasting the ‘irrational’ panic caused by Coronavirus. In his speech, he compared the UK to Superman: “humanity needs some government somewhere that is willing at least to make the case powerfully for freedom of exchange, some country ready to take off its Clark Kent spectacles and leap into the phone booth and emerge with its cloak flowing as the supercharged champion, of the right of the populations of the earth to buy and sell freely among each other”(1).

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Rae Karts 23 July 2021

Interesting read. I didn't saw it that way, because sometimes we just let anything we hear or see pass by, without filtering it. That is pretty dangerous.

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Susan Tillitt 20 December 2020

You make an assertion, which is really just an assumption, and then spend the rest of your time answering a question that is based on your original unargued, unexplored position, your assertion: "At the root of these statements is a form of exceptionalism, the conviction that one’s country is better than other countries, and because of that superiority, it is allowed to behave in different ways." I would argue that the statements reflect a social, legal and democratic agreement amongst the citizens of the country, for better or for worse, that freedom is amongst the highest of shared values of those citizens. There is no superlative, hence no exceptionalism. I think you may have wasted space and reader's time with a false premise.

Veronica 7 December 2020

In one way it is good to call this out but in another, I wonder if this is just more British-bashing. Why are people so annoyed by the British being proud of their character? National feeling is hugely important to bring people together, especially in moments like this.