The decay has set in across social classes, and more deeply than when the country last turned itself around in the 90s
Decline is a spectre that has haunted this country for at least a hundred years. Through the retreat from empire, postwar recessions and growth panics, and our inward turn since Brexit, the worry that Britain is falling behind other countries – or deteriorating in absolute terms – has repeatedly gripped journalists, politicians and the public.
We are in one of those periods now. Seven out of 10 people in a recent Ipsos Mori poll agreed that the country was in decline. Commentators in other countries look on with a mixture of pity and schadenfreude.
Andy Beckett is a Guardian columnist