“Believe in Britain.” Now there’s a phase you’ll have heard a lot these past few years – specifically as a tiresome mantra forever echoing through the ripples of political discourse, all the while shamelessly masquerading as a valid argument.
You’d think that such vacuous drivel wouldn’t have much in the way of life expectancy when it comes to surviving in the harsh environment of rigorous debate, immediately withering into the intellectual void from whence it came upon detecting the faintest whiff of a cogent argument but alas – a logical and rational time this is not; rigorous debate having long since given way to cheap point scoring and meaningless sloganeering.
Still as pitiful a point it may be, it does seem to be an oddly persuasive smear against anyone who doesn’t buy into it – as though the mere suggestion that Britain can’t sustain itself on fervent patriotism and perceived glory alone is tantamount to treason.
However, putting aside for one moment that it’s an entirely cretinous argument to make in response to legitimate concerns, is there really anything to base it upon to begin with? Is the Britain of today really able to justify such blind faith proclaiming undoubted brilliance?
Well, no – but before I’m burnt at the stake for being a traitor surreptitiously attempting to undermine British democracy with a Soros funded lack of faith in the intangible, let’s actually take a look at the situation we’re in.
Brexit was always heralded as an opportunity to take back control, making our own decision on laws most wouldn’t be able to name and strike billion dollar international trade deals over a spot of afternoon tea. Though snark aside, the “control” aspect was never anything more than a tantalising hook for the electorate to sink their teeth into, before realising all too late that there wasn’t anything for them to bite off – having been sold the very same parliamentary sovereignty we already had.
In any event, post referendum a further emphasis was heaped upon Parliament. With the eyes of a sceptical world fixed firmly upon them, the boasts of the campaign trail had to suddenly yield fruit. So just how did the government, democratically elected by the populace, fare in their two year audition to showcase British brilliance?
As it turns out – miserably.
Yet was any of this really surprising? A divided nation inevitably gives way to a divided Parliament – and when you add into the mix that they’re attempting to deliver a poorly thought out fantasy which has more interpretations than the ending of Inception, the befuddled paralysis we’re left with was always the inescapable outcome.
Sure you can buy into the Farage stained conspiracies of establishment sabotage if you’re that way inclined; you can even somewhat more credibly point to a cabinet so starved of talent and intuition that they’re still employing a Transport Secretary who’s unable to organise a traffic jam, but all of this is merely window dressing ultimately obscuring your view from the fatal problem – Britain has found itself hopelessly lost, crawling ever deeper down a Brexit rabbit hole while its hubris has entirely discounted the idea that perhaps they should turn back.
While there is a certain irony that a nation desperate to regain a perceived sense of control has now resigned itself to remain stubbornly locked on course to an outcome which will cut off its global standing at the knees, the real point of interest comes by way of comparison with the other side – namely the European Union.
“Globalism” and the apparently radical notion of tight knit cooperation with other countries may have been significantly tainted by the relentless propaganda machine of hardcore nationalists, but during the eternal dysfunction of Britain’s pitiful attempts at negotiation with the EU, the benefits of a resolute political union of 27 countries working towards a common goal has proved to be a dominant hand which a deluge of haphazard posturing was simply unable to overcome.
There’s no denying that Britain is a country steeped in history, rich in innovation and military conquest. The British Empire spanned the globe which seems an unfathomable achievement for a comparatively tiny island – but none of that helps us now. The world in which this was achieved no longer exists outside of a Nigel Farage wet dream. It’s true that Britain has been a big player in recent decades, currently boasting one of the largest economies in the world – yet the former Sick Man of Europe didn’t achieve this by throwing up the barricades. Unhindered access to the largest trading block on the planet became a fundamental cornerstone of our prosperity, deluding ourselves otherwise is a denial of the very history we eagerly seek to hold aloft.
There’s nothing wrong with appreciating Britain’s history, nor is there with feeling a vicarious sense of pride from the triumph of our ancestors – but to use the accomplishments of generations of which very few remain as an infallible, all encompassing counter argument and expect it to hold weight irrespective of the astonishing incompetence of those currently steering our destiny is a fool’s errand, granting our wretched leaders an undeserved safety net from accountability.
Having pride in your nation is one thing, but willingly allowing it to manifest as arrogance, flipping the bird to our friends and colleagues as we plummet into the abyss, is to pour scorn upon decades of cooperation and unity that granted our little island its lofty stature on the global stage.
Cooperation is to be cherished, not sneered at. After all, as those who feverishly cite our historical achievements should well know, we wouldn’t have won the war without it.Follow @grahamlithgow