Author of British Voices, a portrait of modern Britain from the perspective of its people - www.britishvoices.org.uk
Joe Hayman is author of British Voices: The UK in its own words, which tells the story of Hayman's three month journey across the UK in late 2011 talking to over 1000 members of the public about life in Britain. Their views are presented faithfully and without judgement in the book, creating a raw, uncompromising portrait of modern Britain from the perspective of its people.
The country has changed hugely, trust in institutions has fallen, a job for life is an idea of the past while the future looks deeply uncertain. It is no wonder that many people feel anxious and insecure. Addressing those insecurities does not mean abandoning pro-immigration principles or pandering to anyone - it means having the humility to accept that many others see things differently, seeking to understand why they do and trying to change their minds.
Why then have we seen so many scandals in different institutions in such quick succession? There is perhaps only one trend which runs through them all and which may help us to learn lessons for the future: in each instance, behaviours which were accepted within closed institutional circles were opened up to the public glare and did not stand up to scrutiny.
Some may argue that scepticism about political leaders is healthy in a democracy, that there is no reason to automatically defer to politicians and that they can still get on with their jobs even if they are not the most popular or respected people in the country.
As Mo Farah sprinted for the line, running quicker after nine thousand, nine hundred metres than most of us will ever run in our lives, the crowd behind him rose to their feet and roared in complete joy, a sea of delirious faces and Union flags.
When the party is over, there will be much hard work to be done to address our anxieties and to rebuild our sense of community; for now, let us enjoy the Britain we saw and felt last night and not forget the dream of the secure, happy nation that we might strive to be.
It is a momentous day in our country, a day when eyes of the world will turn to us and we can celebrate being British. We will no doubt take much pride in Team Great Britain, but across the Irish Sea, a contested corner of the United Kingdom remains troubled.
Yesterday's <a href="http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-18966729" target="_hplink">Office of National Statistics figures on life satisfaction in Britain </a>paint a picture of a happy nation. While there are variations by geography and demography, the average life satisfaction in the UK is a healthy 7.4 out of 10. Not too shabby for a nation which has a reputation for complaining.
25/07/2012 11:37 BST
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