It’s strange really, once the height of power and authority. An empire seemingly endless in size, now reduced to a nation in turmoil and a never ending cacophony of political meandering.
Our rise was a long and arduous affair, but although the climb is arduous and lengthy, the fall is swift and unforgiving.
Two wars, an empire crumbling, and the home nation crippled with debt. Like roof tiles during an earthquake the colonies fell away, leaving the open husk of a once great building for all to see. The damp and wear and mould festering in the joists and beams.
We truly are a derelict nation.
Many in Britain look fondly to the past as a time in which Britain was a shining beacon of nobility and justice. But was it? Britain committed many crimes during its imperial domination. Indigenous peoples butchered and nations plundered of all wealth, all in the name of progress and the enlightening of tribal societies, but it was progress on our terms, and we imposed it in a brutal fashion.
In the wake of the Brexit referendum the narrative of returning Britain to a similarly golden age is rife. Politicians and commentators alike bask in the idea that standing alone, Britain may once again grow in strength and stature; the reality is however that the world has changed, and many in this country have not changed with it.
Britain still desperately clambers for relevance on the world stage, our Brexit vote a desperate cry for attention and the slogans during the campaign screaming ‘we want to be loved’. That isn’t to say we are completely irrelevant, but we simply do not command the same respect as we once did.
We still repeatedly meddle in the affairs of other nations and flex our military ‘muscle’ – if one could even describe our military as muscular now. Our engagements in the Middle East are nothing more than a grovelling show of submission to the real superpower today. One we maintain a ‘special relationship’ with (which in all honesty is nothing more than an alliance whereby the US can manipulate Britain and keep its fingers on the pulse of European affairs).
As a nation we are the international equivalent of football fans singing ‘everybody hates us, we don’t care‘ – But we do care. We grovel at the feet of the United States and beg before despotic regimes to maintain our own interests. Is that less belittling than contributing to the European Union?
Politicians claimed that the EU was an overburdening, bureaucratic nightmare that would dissolve our individual identities and render sovereignty obsolete, yet our Prime Minister shakes hands with Saudi Kings that despise the very rights that ensure freedoms for the individual. In addition to this, the Brexit campaign thoroughly capitalised on scaremongering when focused on immigration. The refugee crisis is no laughing matter, but their tactics were hilariously basic, offensive and downright incorrect. The fact that people bought this drivel is truly frightening.
I may add that I’m not completely slating the UK here. I am a proud patriot and very much believe that at times in the past, Britain has acted nobly; Fighting fascism, pioneering science & medicine and through the actions of people long gone, I enjoy unparalleled rights and privileges.
The city I have grown up in, Edinburgh, was once the scientific, intellectual and philosophical hub of the British Empire. Its role in the enlightenment cannot be understated and its pioneering nature still continues. To this day Edinburgh still maintains great traditions of openness and acceptance of world cultures. A marvel, really. And it stands as a testament to precisely what Britain can and should be.
The narrative throughout the last year however has largely been focused on two things; money and the illusion of power. Not the people, as Nigel Farage and others insisted it was about. We can’t live without money, I know. And Britain’s economy needs to be strong and stable (Wow, I am baffled I even said that). But abandoning a large trading platform to wheel & deal our way through international trade is simply preposterous.
Even as I ramble about this Britain is in talks with the EU, with David Davis of all people leading the British camp. David Davis, is this the best Britain can bring to the table? In recent weeks British politics has been in utter turmoil, and if I were the EU delegation, I’d be rubbing my hands at the prospect of providing a drubbing.
We will more than likely be left humiliated, outcast, and out of pocket from this experiment. One that is nothing more than a tantrum from a contingent of society that has been horribly led astray and deceived.
If Britain were to focus on the aforementioned marvels of a time gone by then I would perhaps be for it. We possess amazing talent in the UK; amazing schools, services and centres of science. Investing in these and placing Britain at the forefront of human progress would absolutely have my backing.
That is not what this is about though, is it? Successive governments have clearly proven they do not value an enlightened populace. How can we pioneer in science if we continue to deny people the education they so desire? How many geniuses and great minds are we neglecting with short sighted policies on tuition fees and school reform?
How can we develop our own civil and human rights in the coming decades if we disregard future pioneers in these fields?
The pettiness of it all is excruciating. We’ve cut off our nose to spite our own face. Why should we take orders (we don’t) from the French? We saved them, twice. Or from Germany? We defeated them, twice. It is the typical nature of small minded politicians in this country to ensure that people are divided. If we leave the EU we can ‘go it alone’, ‘forge our own path’ – All while lining the pockets of those who orchestrated this.
Perhaps somewhere in all this there has been a genuine desire to see Britain prosper. But personally I cannot see it through the endless drivel and false promises.
If politicians cared that much about the people and their futures, then they would not have continually swerved crucial questions, printed lies and made false promises. (See: £350m to the NHS billboard)
Ultimately it reeks of a culture where delusions of grandeur reigns supreme. A nation confused about where the future lies and a political class more than willing to take advantage, make their own gains, and all at the expense of the people they represent.
Britain is not a superpower, it is not a grand and noble nation, it is not a major player in world affairs. We say we are, we try to act like we are, but deep down we are the bully who acts as such to cover his own insecurities.
Stop bleating about the glory days, start working to better the days to come.