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'Not so' Great Britain

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Is it time we stopped calling ourselves “Great” Britain, if, as a foreign diplomat has been alleged to say, we are in fact just a small island. To be fair, if the allegation is true, we cannot fault his geography - in land area terms we are about the 80th biggest in the world, just behind Guinea and just ahead of Uganda.

Economically, however, we remain one of the top 10 countries in the world and I could understand some of the strength of response from David Cameron when he extolled the many (admittedly mainly historic) significant contributions of the Home Nations to the wider world story. Having said that, it is hard when you respond as he did not to sound a little like you are complaining (“it’s not fair, we are a big……etc”), and sometimes I do wonder whether the days of us setting the agenda for world affairs are coming to an end.

The decision not to press ahead with unilateral military action against Syria did not seem to me to be a sign of weakness, but was a reassuring affirmation of the importance of the rule of law in these matters and if we are no longer the party which sets the agenda for the rest of the world there is still much to celebrate; London remains the pre-eminent financial centre in the world and as a nation we are at the forefront of research and learning at our universities (6 of which feature in the top 20 universities in the world) to name just two.

Okay, so the less said about our national football teams the better, but whatever direction our future involvement in world affairs takes, I suspect that our influence will always be felt not least because of our historic role in the development of other nations and because English remains the language of international discourse.

Posted: 12/09/2013 10:18:05
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