Ukip may hate modern Britain – but the evidence shows it’s working well

Every day, the political headlines are the same. We are beset with misery. With the Ukip engine chuntering under the bonnet, political debate has taken on a relentlessly negative and fearful character. The country has gone to the dogs. We're a nation of benefit scroungers. Immigrants, who either do not work or take all our jobs, are coming in droves, taking away the last elements of British character and triggering imaginary crime waves.

The prime minister has adopted this world view, which he presumably doesn't share privately, and sung it loudly on the world stage. Britain's international reputation is now that of the old man in the back in the pub, constantly grumbling about anything which emerged after his youth. Every day the front pages have a different policy on the front page, typified by meanness and exclusion. The last couple of days alone have mentioned plans to ban EU migrants from claiming tax credits, or putting a cap on them, or imposing a three month deadline on EU migrants who haven't found work.

So it's worth occasionally taking a look at research of what this country is actually like, once the screaming tabloid headlines and Faragist hysteria is put to one side.
This year's Legatum Prosperity Index paints an entirely different picture to the one Ukip would have you believe. Britain is not going to the dogs. It is actually a remarkably successful, prosperous and free country.

It is the 13th most prosperous country in the world and the most prosperous large European country – above Germany (14th), France (21st) and Italy (37th). It’s the third most prosperous country in the G7 and the fourth in the G20. We are connected to the world in a way other nations can barely imagine. We're ranked number one for international internet connections, measured by international internet bandwidth per person.

Britain remains charitable, community-minded and well-meaning. Despite all the talk, particularly on the left, of the superior, more caring 'social economies' on the continent, the UK has much stronger social bonds. It is ranked 12th on the social capital sub-index, above Germany (17th) and France (56th).

Brits are the fourth most generous people in the world, with 74% of them giving money to charity. The figure falls to 42% in Germany and 26% in France. Sixty-one per cent of people said they'd helped someone in the last month. One in three people volunteer.

We are remarkably free. The percentage of Brits satisfied with their personal freedom has increased from 78% to 91% since 2009 –presumably due to the reversal of some of New Labour's draconian anti-terror laws. Canada is the only G7 country with more personal freedom. France is well behind and so is the US.

Ninety-one per cent of Brits believe they have the freedom to choose the course of their lives, compared to just 43% of Greeks and 50% of Italians.

We are the 11th most tolerant country in the world. Eighty-seven per cent of people believe we are tolerant towards ethnic minorities.

And on the greatest of all personal freedoms, security, we also excel. We're 21st in the safety and security sub-index. People feel safer and safer. In 2009, 66% of people felt safe walking home late at night. Now it's 74%.

To be born British, or to become British, remains one of the greatest strokes of luck one could wish for. We are mostly prosperous, free, kind and safe. But we spend our days trying to sabotage our economy by limiting the immigration which helps fuel it. We pollute our political discourse with ever more toxic rhetoric around foreigners. We incessantly do ourselves down, with supposed patriots falling over each other to show how much they detest their country. And we betray our better nature, with a global image increasingly dominated by the most mean-spirited elements of our national personality.