Monday, December 07, 2009

Where does Britain go from here?

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.


Anonymous said...

Firstly, using the term "root and branch" review is embarrassing for all. Please, don't; there could be kids reading and we all want to stop the social decline you speak of.

Secondly, I've read that many members of the party (and the country) don't believe in Intellectual Property rights, so we won't be inventing much any time soon. New creatives will not be drawn here - there is nothing for them.

Thirdly, thinking that the Lib Dems have a plan to address these issues is foolish. Unfortunately, they are as prone to the cause of the decline as any other party.

The removal of the current government isn't going to slow the decline, it's going to accelerate it. Why do Lib Dems seem to trust the Tories so much? When the sociopaths are in power, society is bound to get fixed?!

So, to the cause of the decline :

Complacency & Stultification. People in the UK think they can have something for nothing, because they can.

When I was young I had the drive and enthusiasm to make things, in the hope of selling them. Now I know how hard that is to do in the UK, I wouldn't advise it to anyone. You're all much better off staying indoors, fiddling on the internet, watching TV and playing games.

Why make anything now? You'll get taxed senseless, and at the end of it people will say you should of given it away for free. It's far more rewarding to stay home, watch TV and drink, claiming you have ME (shoot for the higher rate Incapacity Benefit). ;)

Ironically, of course, all this situation does is maintain the global hegemony of a few powerbrokers. For example, if Murdoch finds a viable way to address content delivery, he'll own all of media, once again, and it will happen as we sit by; stultified and powerless. You can argue about that, just like people did in the early Sky/BSB days, but the solution won't be ours because we were too busy being liberal to see common-sense. People will say "he can't stop the internet" or "I'll never pay for that"...right up until the point they subscribe.

Welcome to our economic slavery - it is in our nature that this is happening to us. We await further instructions from Apple, Microsoft, Walmart, News Corp, etc.

Ian Thorpe said...

Wise words as usual Cicero, may I add that in my view politically correct thinking in education and most branches of cultural life needs to be weeded out.

This stifling non-philosophy this creed of the sterile society on which equivocation repalces argument has been creeing in for a long time. I had a few battles when I was active in the old Liberal Party. Here in Accrington at the time we had the worst housing stock of any borough in Britain. I wanted to make an election issue of it but was blocked. One of the reasons for our poor housing was the habit of council tenants to trash their hime before "doing a moonlight flit."

Many of these tenants were Irish so we could not call for action as it might look as if we were victimising the Irish. Now, through years of giving out a message that nothing was going to happen to people who wrecked their house and left behind them huge rent arrears the council simply accepts every house that comes up for reletting will have to be totally refitted."

We used to have an education system that prepared peple for work. I was a grammar school boy and went into the civil service. A lot of my classmates went into traineeships in the professions, furthering their education at night school and day release. a few went to higher education. Many of our pals at Sec Mod schools took up trade appenticeships and continued education on day release. It was a smooth transition from school to work.

Now anybody who does not have a degree education is a virtual write off as far as a worthwhile career is concerned. The academic path is not for everybody however. Many excellent technical professionals took the ONC / HNC route.

Furthermore we have to rebuild communities so everybody can feel they have a secure place in society and from that draw self esteem. But I'd best shut up now before I write a book. Age: The New Apartheid