Britain 'was greatest in the sixties'

Britain 'was greatest in the sixties'
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1945 and 1966 are the years people are most likely to say Britain was at its greatest – and the '60s is seen as the greatest decade

Donald Trump wants to "make America great again", and Boris Johnson thinks Britain "will prosper and thrive as never before" after Brexit. There is evidently an element of nostalgia in modern western politics – a sense that the present is not the greatest we could be or have been. But when exactly was this golden age we are trying to replicate?

New YouGov research asking people when Britain was at its greatest reveals the mid-20th century is perhaps the most specific we can get. We can see two standout years emerging from the raw numbers: 1945 (the end of the second world war) and 1966 (when England won the world cup).

Other years with significantly higher than average shares of reminiscence are 1900, 1940, 1960, 1970 and 2012. 27 people also say Britain's finest moments were before 1800, but it's clear the curve of nostalgia is highest between 1940-1980 – and the median year for British greatness is 1960.

The sixties is also clearly the decade in which people tend to say Britain was at its greatest. Twice as many (13%) choose the sixties as the greatest British decade than any other, with the rest closely bunched together. 18-24s are the only generation not giving the highest share of nostalgia to the '60s (7% choose the 200s and 6% choose the '90s).

Similar research conducted in the US found the most popular year was 2000, before the 9/11 attacks. 1955, 1960, 1970 and 1985 were also popular, and among Trump supporters there was a similar vagueness in when America was greatest, although over 2% chose 2015, the year Donald Trump's campaign began. 

See the full poll results

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