‘Summer of ’76 was like a spell in a hot tub with Charlie’s Angels’

There’s been a lot of talk about how this summer is just like the one we had in 1976.

Something to do with the sun, ­apparently. And how it refuses to go away, leaving us red, sweaty and worried about the dog.

It’s given commentators a chance to contrast then and now, with some right-wingers declaring that life was much worse in those dark, pre-Thatcherite days when it took the GPO weeks to install a phone, inflation was 17% and unions held the country to ransom.

Which is a load of Space Hopper-sized balls.

As the New Economics Foundation concluded 14 years ago, 1976 was the best year on record for equality of incomes and quality of life.

We had a sense of community and ­fairness back then.

We invested in public services so you could get seen quickly at hospitals and borrow books from libraries, there were untouched parks and school playing fields and councils filled in potholes.

University education was free, with maintenance grants paid to poorer kids, houses were affordable for first-time buyers, and most families could get a council home to rent.

People worked fewer hours in more secure jobs and were offered decent pensions.

There was Taxi Driver on at the pictures, Rising Damp on the telly, every kind of music from Abba to The Sex Pistols and it cost as little as 70p to watch the best football teams.

I’m not saying everything was hunky-dory.

Homophobia, racism, sexism and police corruption went unchecked, and due to under-investment, poor industrial relations and the after-effects of the global oil crisis, the economy was slumping.

But compared with today, 1976 seems like a long holiday spent in a hot tub with Charlie’s Angels.

In 2018, we are a bitterly divided nation with a directionless government talking about stockpiling food and ­medicines in case a no-deal Brexit pushes us off a cliff.

A Resolution Foundation report has just warned that eight million “just about managing” families are no better off today than in 2003 due to income stagnation marking the largest rise in poverty since Thatcher’s era.

We work longer hours in far less secure jobs, the NHS is in crisis, there are hordes of homeless on the streets, childhood obesity and diabetes are at epidemic levels, students are smothered in debt, the young can’t afford to leave their parents and underfunded police have given up chasing many criminals.

Worst of all, greed at the top has gone off the scale and wealth disparities have never been more glaring.

In 1976, the average British CEO earned 20 times what his average employee did.

Today the average FTSE chief executive earns almost 400 times more than a worker on the National Living Wage.

Those public utilities we proudly owned have been flogged to the hedge funds meaning our trains are plagued with mass cancellations and obscene ticket prices, and 170,000 commuters are forced to stand on their way to work every day.

Water companies are allowed to rip us off and lose billions of gallons in leaks while still paying shareholders £6.5billion over the past five years.

In the 70s, our high streets were buzzing communal hubs filled with ­independent traders.

Now, thanks to multinational greed, many look like post-apocalypse film sets.

Back then we had a Labour ­government with ministers of the calibre of Denis Healey, Tony Benn and Michael Foot.

Today we have a Tory government ­paralysed by a civil war, kept in power only by the DUP, with ministers like Chris Grayling and Jeremy Hunt and a leader who kowtows to Donald Trump’s every whim.

Perm my hair, pass my tank top, stick me in Tom Baker’s Tardis and get me back to 1976.

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