Happy New Year Borgen – Literally

150131 HAPPY NEW YEARThe Season To Be Jolly over, say hello to The Season To Be Happy. “Happy New Year!!!” We squeal dementedly at anyone, every day, all month. But, be honest, thinking back over the years, how often did it really turn out that way?

To Borgen, where it does turn out exactly that way. Every year. Or at least for as long as anyone’s been counting that sort of stuff. Linguistic quirk: The Danes don’t actually say ‘Happy New Year’, they say Godt Nytår – Good New-year, so a slightly less Jazz Hands augmented outpouring.

So what’s their secret? The magic ingredient? The weather is cold and wet, it’s dark for much of the year, there’s no great imperial past, little pomp – even less circumstance. Could it be the Lego?  Or a daily Danish ?(which they, by the way, call Vienna Bread)?

Just for a laugh, let’s spell our way through some likely determinants of Borgen’s happiness phenomenon: Continue reading

An Englishman’s Home is His Cash Cow. What Does Borgen Do?

The GB housing market is fecked. It has been for – well, for a very long time actually. That’s if it ever worked as intended, of course. You know, people having a home near their work, one which is the right size and shape for its number of occupants. That sort of thing.

I know, I know, does make you laugh, doesn’t it? “Hahaha, don’t be so simple” I can hear you chortle as you read. If only…but this isn’t funny. It isn’t funny at all. In fact, it’s so serious that it will destroy our communities, unless we get a grip. Continue reading

Vive La Difference! Or Spot the Similarity?

ImageI’m spending time Borgen-side, an ideal opportunity to put to the test some of the Scandi characteristics I wax so lyrically about on this blog. It often sounds just too good to be true, doesn’t it? So what does the dark side of Denmark’s moon look like? Apart, of course, from The Killing (‘Forbrydelsen‘), The Bridge (‘Broen‘) and all those other ‘The Something-Or-Others’. Plenty of dark there.

Perusing a daily newspaper you could be forgiven for thinking that you were still in the UK (apart from the language. Obviously): “Shocking tax department bungle forces up rents and rates“, “Secondhand car dealers loans break the law“, “Productivity goes into a coma – again“,  “The Liberal Party embraces Trades Union boss” – ok, so perhaps not that last headline. And then some lament about Mylie Cyrus’ new album not being remotely as engaging as her on-stage antics. Continue reading

Bringing up the £200K baby: What Would Borgen Do?

Childcare costs more expensive than Eton” screams the Daily Torygraph headline.

Never mind Eton, nursery fees maxing out at a whopping £42K a year, with an average of £11K, are now way beyond the reach of anyone on the minimum wage – the very people most in need of affordable childcare. Image

Now, here in Our Green and Pleasant Land, we like to think of ourselves as a pretty decent bunch, really. So why is it that, as soon as someone’s over a barrel – someone else can be sure to waste no time in finishing them off completely? Continue reading

Hug a Hoodie or Mug a Hoodie? – What would Borgen do?

It’s really rather a good feeling being a Danish Brit nowadays. Repeated requests for jumper-knitting instructions are admittedly a drawback, but one I can live with. More interesting are daily questions about policy matters as practised Borgen style. (For those who’ve been living under a stone for the past several months, “Borgen” is short for Christiansborg, the Danish Parliament building as well as the title of the appointment-to-view Danish version of the West Wing).

“How is it that the Skandis apparently get it so right?” Or “How can you be the happiest people on earth while, at the same time, paying the most tax?” The trickle of enquiries has now become a steady stream so, as I often frankly have no idea what the answer might be, I’ve decided to start an irregular blog, which looks at UK policy in the news and asks: “What Would Borgen Do?”

And what better place to launch this initiative than with Call-me-Dave’s new “tough but intelligent” Rehabilitation Revolution initiative? Continue reading