IS BRITAIN REALLY GREAT?
Years ago people felt they knew when their country was doing well. For me, victory in the Falklands War in 1982, transformed an 18 year old boy's view on Britain. Living in Liverpool, the old Empire's leading port, national decline was everywhere around me. Docks in ruins. Bombsites everywhere.
But the 1980's transformed the world, certainly Britain and yes Liverpool too.
And today, how would you know if your country is world-beating or not?
Let’s take a look.
The good news! In 2020 Portland’s index of ‘soft power’ https://softpower30.com/ – the ability to lead through persuasion – ranked Britain as number three. China, 4 times as wealthy as Britain, 20 times as populous and 40 times as large, was only fifth.
The sun may have set on the British Empire, but this country still finds itself with clout – a range of institutions and relationships in politics, economics, science and culture, often amassed over generations, which give it a great deal of internationally recognised influence.
Britain’s power had far more to it than economics alone. Its cultural power is universal. By the end of the decade Britain was still a world-beater in global influence:
- It attracted more in foreign direct investment than Germany, France or Spain.
- Its capital, London, overtook New York as the premier global city.
- British citizens enjoyed visa-free travel to 174 countries – the joint-highest of any nation
- Its diplomats staffed the largest number of permanent missions to multilateral organisations, alongside France.
- It has 29 UNESCO World Heritage sites.
- It produced more internationally chart-topping music albums than any other country
- Its football clubs have huge global support.
- The BBC frames international events on British terms, broadcasting in every major language.
- Its universities were second only to those of the United States, attracting vast numbers of foreign students.
- The British Council, British Museum and other arts institutions promote our cultural contributions worldwide.
But is this really true?
Now, look at this.
Starting with the last large reshuffle of the world order from the 1991, or the fall of USSR we can show, courtesy of our friends, the State Power Index, how we have fared amongst the top European countries.
Take a look at Britain's performance since 1991 when you add all aspects of power. Look how Britain could have overtaken Germany but has now lost out to France.
It all boils down to this...
If you saw this, imagine you're Boris Johnson. Why are some countries outplaying us? What are their strengths? What are their weaknesses? What power strategies are they following? Which stories are people sharing about them? And what does the world then think of them? And, being Bojo, what does the world think of me?
If you were him, what are the tools you need, which are the levers to pull to make your country great again? What can you do to be a great leader? If you led your country, what would be your objective, your strategy, your tactics?
Britain has power to use. But does it?
No. Far from it.
The fact is if we want Britain to be strong and prosperous and proud on the world stage we need to know if we’re top five, mid-table or facing relegation. We need to know what is our team’s aim, strategy and tactics. Why we are losing and how we can win.
Football - like politics - has winners and losers, leagues and trophies, teams and supporters.
It's what makes both of them gripping.
Same with countries. But in football, managers, journalists, players and fans have league tables to judge their side. We really know if teams are really "world-beating."
We've got a new way of achieving international harmony to solve spats in the pub about who's going up or down the league table of history.
People talk of Brexit unleashing a new era of British influence in the world. Others say we’re going from league-leaders to the global relegation zone.
Ok. So why not scientifically track where the Brexit management is taking Britain?
We are not going to rely on British politicians and tabloids telling us how fantastic Britain’s future is. Nor are we going to rely on old-fashioned, UK based, small numbers opinion polling.
We're going to do something different.
We have built our own League of Nations. (Yes, really!)
Check it out here:
Let's make Britain great again, to coin a phrase.
BUT TO DO THAT FIRST WE’VE GOT TO KNOW WHAT’S THE HELL IS GOING ON IN THE WORLD. AND WHERE WE FIT IN. THIS I HOPE YOU WILL FIND FASCINATING
I’ll tell you more tomorrow.