“I know my place” was the title of a famous sketch on English class sensibilities from the 1960s, starring the very tall (Upper Class) John Cleese, the average height (Middle Class) Ronnie Barker, and the very short (Lower Class) Ronnie Corbett.
The Upper Class Cleese generally looked down on both Middle Class Barker and Lower Class Corbett; Barker looked up to Cleese and down on Corbett; and Corbett “knew his place”. That was at the bottom of the English class system pecking order, and surviving his place meant living life with lowered expectations.
This skit — and Corbett’s perennial state of acquiescence — came to mind as I read UK media reports heralding the news that, according to the The Office of Mind Your Own Business (well, it’s formal name is the Office for National Statistics, but you try finding any data there!), the UK economy grew by 1.9 per cent in 2013.
On historical trends, this was a ‘Ronnie Corbett’ rather than John Cleese rate of growth (see Figure 1). But such was the level of despondency over the UK’s performance since the global financial crisis began that it has received a John Cleese response from the UK public. The Opposition Labour Party’s once substantial lead over the ruling Conservatives has evaporated, and the Conservatives are now running just one point below the Labour Party in opinion polls.