Why has the Netherlands been so successful? A large part of the place is below sea level, built on reclaimed land, it has no natural resources or mineral wealth, no source of energy, no great natural agricultural advantage and they speak a language that sounds like hawking phlegm. Yet their per capita GDP places them amongst the wealthiest in the world, and in terms of economic freedom they're at the top of the index, along with Switzerland, the UK, Ireland and Iceland. Their courts are un-corrupt, they have a monarchy and a proud history of plucky adventuring, once even sending a fleet of ships up the Thames to destroy the English fleet.
The answer of course is trade, commerce, secondary processes that add value, shipping and above all wide horizons that allow the Dutch to punch above their weight. Chemicals, petroleum refining, electrical engineering, banking and a scientifically productive horticulture and intensive agriculture sector all make the best of the Netherlands' greatest asset - the Dutch. They even enlisted cannabis and prostitutes into the tax economy.
The fact that the Netherlands seem firmly fixed within the EU is our loss and the EU's gain.
In response to the EU's veiled threats to block UK financial services from operating in the EU post-Brexit, a suggestion has resurfaced to form an FinAlliance between the UK, Switzerland, Singapore and HK. It's perfectly feasible, and it must worry at least 26 of the 27. But imagine what such an alliance would be if it included the Netherlands.
Again, the reward of the deserving has been fouled and besmirched by the awards of honours to the undeserving, those deficient of either exceptional merit or great worth to the nation. Sally Davies, chief health fascist, Alison Saunders, failed and vindictive prosecutor and Melanie Dawes, Jonathan Jones and John Manzoni are either failures or unknown mediocrities and none of them has a place in our national pantheon. The system stinks. Until we clear this meretricious trash from our honours system, the truly deserving will be devalued and befouled by association.