Britain invented industry and the modern capitalist economy. Our inventions include: smelting iron with coke, the metal lathe, steel, steam power, the railways, modern textile production, bicycles, television, telephone, the jet engine, the submarine, the hovercraft, toilet paper, the world wide web and even this list barely scratches the surface.
In "soft power", our philosophers include John Locke, the apostle of Liberalism, John Stuart Mill, Sir Karl Popper and Sir Isiah Berlin. The cultural impact of our country is extraordinary: our language is universal and most of the last four decades has been dominated by music from the Beatles to Pink Floyd that is British.
Yet Britain now faces an existential crisis. We are told that whereas our economy was the fourth largest in 2005, by 2015- on current trends- it will no longer be in the top ten. Our industrial base has shrunk dramatically. we no longer produce cars or bicycles or pianos or many other things that our country was once famous for. We no longer produce commercial jet airliners without collaboration. We can not produce many products vital for our national defence.
Is Britain doomed to decline?
There are certainly many who think so- and not just the defeatists that seem to populate so much of our commentariat. Many Americans have publicly written off Britain as a credible global partner. They have viewed with dismay our failure to tackle military equipment shortages in Afghanistan. They have viewed with contempt the venal imbroglio of the Parliamentary expenses scandal.
Liberal Democrats believe that there is a clear need for a root and branch constitutional reform of the UK. yet that alone cannot transform our sense of defeat and failure. That is a project that will require the British people to take responsibility into their own hands. The removal of this discredited government is merely the first step towards a policy of national renewal.
That could be a very long journey. However without it, we will continue our blind drift into failure and powerlessness.