Wednesday 13 January 2010


Britain, and therefore Scotland, has sunk to 25th place in International Living magazine's 30th annual survey of the best countries to live, scoring 73/100 behind Uruguay, Lithuania and The Czech Republic. France came out on top for the fifth year in a row.

The survey analysed 194 countries and based results on nine criteria including the cost of living, leisure and culture, economy, environment, freedom, health, infrastructure, safety and climate. This involved looking at everything from the average cost of a cup of coffee, to average house prices, tax and inflation rates, GDP per capita and the number of people per musuem.

The top ten were:

1. France
2. Australia
3. Switzerland
4. Germany
5. New Zealand
6. Luxembourg
7. USA
8. Belgium
9. Canada
10. Italy

The Bottom 10 countries were:

1. Somalia
2. Yemen
3. Sudan
4. Chad
5. Afghanistan
6. Sierra Leone
7. Djibouti
8. Eritrea
9. Guinea
10. Angola

So let's be grateful were not living in any of these last ones, but it would be nice if, while we were running the world as America's deputy, trying to make IT a better place to live (as we say we are) we might find some time to get ourselves into the top 20 countries in the world to live in..... they did. ... As usual we got left behind.

I'm betting we'd be farther up than 25 if we were independent!



  1. looks like Christians 10 Muslims 0. Although I'm not sure about Angola.
    Where did Haiti come ?

  2. Actually I don't think that any of the top ten is a Christain country per se Anon. Certainly France is not. The state and religion are apart. It is illegal to teach religion or have any religious activity organised in school. I think the USA is the same. I don't know about the others. I realise that they are still insisting on teaching Christianity in the UK, but I doubt it is done most places.

  3. Do they insist upon teaching Christianity in our schools? I thought RE taught every religion without any emphasis.

  4. I appreciate that it's unfashionable to talk about our Christian heritage for fear of upsetting other religions but you can't ignore 400 years of Christian culture in the UK. Our sovereign is Head of the Church of England and is responsible for her citizens and her parliament. Our courts used to only swear oaths on the bible and display 'In God We Trust '. Our holidays are mainly Christian ( Easter, Christmas). We mainly get married in churches. And we took these values to our former colonies in New Zealand and North America.
    As we throw away our culture and freedoms we will gradually drop out of the rankings for best place to live. I don't think it's a coincidence that non Christian dicatorships are at the bottom of the list and that's where we are heading.

  5. Maybe that's changed since I was at school. I had Christianity rammed down my throat at morning assembly and at 2 lessons a week.

    Although I think I live pretty much by the tenets of Christianity Subrosa (more so than some churchgoers I know). I objected then as I object now to it being (badly) taught and rammed down my throat. I left school knowing nothing about any religion apart from it.

    I think the Americans and the French have got it right. It is banned from schools and anything to do with government.

  6. Anon: I'm not of another religion and I'm not in the least offended by discussion of it. I find, however, the assumed superiority of Christianity, whilst not offensive, at least disagreeable.
    I don’t deny the Christian heritage (there is more like 1400 years of Christian heritage in Scotland dating from St Columba’s arrival in 563), but am mindful of the fact that it was to a great extent forced upon people until the last century. The upper classes attended the church, and had great control over who preached and what they preached. The lower classes were made to attend. The divisions in Christianity meant that in my home town there were employers who employed only Catholics and others who employed only Protestants, but within these companies the only way to prosper was to attend, and take office in the church.

    It is only in the post second war period that the hold of religion over people’s lives started to diminish. As it did, attendance at church diminished to the point now where there are very few attendees. That suggests to me that most of the churchgoers went because they had to.

    I wonder how high up the list we would have been in the days where we were forced to go to a church every Sunday in order to stay in our jobs.

    The fact that we celebrate Christmas, by spending VAST amounts of money on drink and food and largely ignoring the poor and starving all over the world is hardly a Christian trait. I accept that Easter is a Christian festival but there is no holiday in my country.

    You talk much about the Church and the Queen. Of course, I am Scottish and the Church of England is something with which I’m not particularly conversant. You say she is responsible for her citizens and her parliament. If so why does she allow some of the nonsense that hurts the poorest and rewards the richest to emanate from said parliament? I can’t see why anyone would think that it was right or fair to involve religion in the law courts. Because I am not a Christian does that mean I have an unequal right to the law? Finally you talk about our colonies and how we took our Christianity there. What on earth would Jesus have thought about how we obtained these colonies, and what we did to some of the indigenous populations there? The rich in Britain got richer, and the people in the colonies suffered. Not very superior.

  7. tris
    I'm not defending Christianity. I'm just stating that it's a fact that we are a Christian country. You initially replied that we weren't a Christian country and then went on to say that we were more Christian than I realised ( 1400 years of it. ) And I'm not defending colonialism for taking Christianity to Africa, Australia and North America etc. I'm just stating that it's a fact.
    I'm an atheist and think all religion is mumbojumbo sky fairy nonsense.
    I'm not a royalist either but am just stating a fact. The Queen opens parliament with all her bishops in tow and our laws and regulations are backed up by the bible. You can refuse to swear on the bible and you are free ( like me) to live your life as you wish.
    If we do introduce sharia law into the UK as the muslims would prefer then you won't be free to live as you like. Especially being a woman. You're voice is worth half that of a man in a sharia court and your rights will erode. This is why the bottom 10 countries in that list are in the bottom ten countries in that list.

  8. Christian heritage something worth maintaining, however in the UK of today I would argue having an established church is potentially a trifle out of date.

    As for the Queen opening parliament I strongly support those traditional events. It is good for the symbolic importance of parliament in our democracy, the ceremony reinforces the supremacy of the elected chamber and is thus also very welcome..and it is very good for tourism and for pride in our democratic rights so long fought for and achieved.

    As for the ins and outs of athiesm in the UK it does present so many problems. For example the states rights over faith schools. Why should a secular institution set the rights of selection for faith schools, Christian Islamic Jewish or otherwise? I think the only solution is either to disestablish the CoE or perhaps more constitutionally easy establish every other church and demonination as well, so that you have bishops, representatives of all faiths in the upper chamber...oh and crown Charles as defender of the faiths. That ougth to make the system of governing the country vis-a-vis right of consence easier! And its radical so people will love it at a GE.

  9. Oh and I should comment on the actual article too...


    Ah, independence if proven as the most economically and socially beneficial course of action for Scots would be welcomed by me. Right now however I just feel that it is better to keep our access to a wider UK pot of resources to be distributed. And if there is failure to distribute that wider UK pot of resources than that is an issue for the way the state is governmed as opposed to an issue that calls automatically for independence.

    However one thing is clear the idea and notion of an independent Scotland is more real now than at any point since the union. So the nationalists in Scotland must be getting something right!

  10. Anon:

    I accept that England has a state religion and that the bishops of its state church, started by its King (because he fell out with the Pope about the laws of the church applying to him). Scotland to a far lesser extent has a state church, but that church has no place in government. I don’t know whether you are from Scotland or England so we could be talking about different things here.

    I really didn’t criticise England for taking Christianity to its colonies. I just don’t think that they should have taken over the countries and enforced all their ways on the native peoples. And in the case of the sparsely populated ones, thrown the natives into the bad parts of the country and taken the good bits for themselves. I don’t really see what is Christian about that.

    In my opinion, the fact that the Queen follows a tradition of reading the government’s programme in front of HER bishops is rather insulting to a harmless old lady’s dignity. Especially when she would probably like to shake their heads together and tell the government that its policies are a travesty and that she is being used to legitimise them, and that the bishops might find more things to do in this broken country than navel gaze about whether women are clever enough to be bishops (especially when, in theory, the Archbishop’s boss is a woman!!!). Ironic huh? That’s what you get when you mess with the word of the bible.

    Incidentally, quite a few of the bottom 10 are so-called Christian countries, (including number 10) and some of them are 50/50.

  11. Dean:

    If I were the Queen... alright King... I would be mortified at having to put myself through that farce of pretending that I was happy with reading the rubbish provided for me by the fool Brown. It wasn’t even very good English.

    I would also be fed up to the back teeth, as I said to Anon, with MY bishops and their worries. As Archbishop Tutu pointed out, they fly all over the world having their conferences, sometimes in countries where there is hunger and war, some of the poorest and most corrupt countries in the world (Christian ones!). And they squabble about whether or not a woman can be a bishop, and whether a gay man, never mind a gay woman, could be a bishop... and they fail to see that Jesus, if he were there with them, would kicked their arses and tell them to take off the fancy kit and go use what influence they have to stop the war, fight the poverty, feed the hungry and buy medicine for the sick.

    They, however, would appear to prefer buying incense, first class air tickets and bonny frocks....

    (Sorry... This is a subject that makes me very, very angry, and I’m totally at one with Desmond Tutu on the subject, despite my being none religious)

  12. Dean:

    I don’t think schools should be of one religion or another. Church, mosque, synagogue or temple is the place for religion taught by priests, rabbis, imams, or whatever. School is for Maths and English.

    As for the upper chamber... well, in my opinion, we don’t need it at all, if we have to have it, in a democracy it has to be elected, and in any case many faiths (including the Church of Scotland) don’t have bishops.

    It is possible that the nationalists are doing good stuff Dean. They are running the country, and it is amazing how many times England, somewhat later, is following their example, and sometimes the example of the previous Liberal/Labour government.

    Being a nation doesn’t mean cutting all economic ties with England, any more than with Holland. And what “largesse” we receive from England would more than be made up from out oil and gas taxes and exports!

  13. until Britain "gets over" its centuries of hallowed tradition, it will remain mired in them. good lord it's still a monarchy. now how weird is that? there are people who actually support the monarchy. really weird!! even worse, the monarch is the head of an "official" national church. how weird is that? oh but it gets worse. why does the monarch hold this title? well it's because Henry VIII wanted a new woman every once in a while. blood flowed during the period of religious persecution. but today the English have the hallowed tradition of a national church. how proud they must be to reflect on that history. it goes on and on. what on earth in their history and traditions do the English have to be proud of? I doubt that is any hope of bringing England into the modern age. there may be hope for Scotland, if the Scots can bring themselves to ditch their own bloody history and join the rest of the world.

  14. Angus: This is one of the ironies.

    The Church of England’s raison d’être is the fact that the King (such a believer) had to have his own way over a divorce. So, without much regard to what God or Jesus would have thought of it, he ditched the Pope and Vatican and started his own Church. Along the way of course, anyone who disagreed with his “arrangements” was...em .... killed.

    God must have been proud!

    I don’t really mind the English having all these things if they want them. As Dean says, it may bring London, and Windsor, some tourists, although, as Munguin has pointed out, not many of them ever get to see the royals; they just get to see the palaces and troops. I wish however that we didn’t have to subsidise these Bishops to be anti women, anti gay, anti all manner of things, as part of a 21st century government.

    I’ve always felt that the Queen’s role in all of this was demeaning. She reads a speech she didn’t write and probably disagrees with; she runs a church over which she has no power whatsoever; she sends troops to war on the whim of the American President, and can do nothing about it; she is the font of honours which are sold by the Labour party and she is the head of the law, which is totally corrupt, overseen as it is, by a pile of judges who live in a world apart from all of us, wear funny wigs and are called by titles which they don’t actually have....

  15. tris,

    In answer to the question in your head-line - it is just to the north of England and a tad south of Iceland. Take the M74 or the A1 and you can't miss it!

    Are the Western Isles not on your list?

  16. Western Isles are probably one of the best places to live. I'd love to go one day.

    Oh... and thanks for the directions... I'm sure I'll find it :-)