The late, great Brittania  

Tuesday, 1 January 2008

Following my return to the UK, I have been pondering the state of affairs in this country even more deeply than usual, trying to get to the bottom of what's gone wrong with our society. It's a complex problem, and - tempting though it is - not one that can be laid solely on the shoulders of messrs Blair and Brown. While they have undoubtedly banged the final nail in the coffin, I think that the rot set in long before their appearance on the scene.

Ironically, I think it was the wife that got closest to understanding why this country has gone down the tubes to such an extent, and why there is such a yawning chasm between the image the UK likes to project of itself and the reality. And make no mistake about it, the world is fully aware of the truth behind the lies, even if we in this country are desperately clinging to a rose-tinted, self-deluding image of a nation which simply doesn't exist anymore. Take, for example, the NHS. Once the ideal on which health services around the world were modelled, the NHS now has the reputation amongst the international medical community of being one of the worst anywhere in the developed world. Anyone who has had the misfortune to get sick in this country recently, will attest to that.

One of the big reasons behind the decline of our health services, and indeed many professions, has been the gradual leeching away of talent - drawn overseas by the prospect of a better life and pushed out by bureaucracy, political correctness and general sloppy standards. The vacuum left is filled by non-British workers, who bring with them their own values and standards. Therein lies the essence of the problem.

In a nutshell, we as British people have forgotten what it is to be be British. As a nation, we have lost our self-respect; as a society we have forgotten the customs, traditions and values that define us as a people. What has replaced them has been a mixture of imported US-style PC nonsense and a mish-mash of cultural fragments from all over the place, mixed blindly into a muddy mess. As a result, this culturally rudderless country now drifts aimlessly into the future with no vision, no direction and no point to its existence. Britain - the country that spawned the largest empire in human history - has gone forever.

The wife's observation was very simple: She says British people have simply given away their country. She cannot fathom why we would want to do that; why we are so concerned with the rights of Muslims and asylum seekers, with Polish plumbers, with the lazy, the useless, the dishonest. Why we lack the courage to uphold our traditional values, indeed, why nobody now seems to know what those traditional values are anymore. She is right.

When you go to Japan, you see Japanese people; When you go to America, you see American people. When you arrive at Heathrow, you see hordes of Indians, Bangladeshis, East Europeans and Pakistanis. You hear very little English being spoken, and you see little sign that those people have the slightest desire to adopt any aspect of their host country's culture. It is very difficult to see how anyone could have a clear sense of national identity in these circumstances. Of course, this has been recognised (although addressed with characteristic incompetance) by the government with their Life in the UK test. Of course, this doesn't go nearly far enough to address the underlying problems. What's needed is a simple set of values and rules that apply to everyone, regardless of their ethnic roots.

To be welcomed in America, for example, you need to swear allegience to the flag and embrace the Constitution. Anyone can do it, regardless of ethnic origin, so long as they embrace the common vision and core values of the USA. This is the only way in which a nation can forge and maintain a national identity from a culturally diverse population. The fact that we have no such written constitution to allow us to adopt this course is a catastrophic error, and perhaps an example of the misplaced arrogance with which this country is now synonimous. Having paid the price for such arrogance, it's difficult to see how Britain can survive as a nation and as a society. Although tinged with sadness, this revelation does indeed make it very easy to think about leaving and not coming back: Simply put, my country doesn't exist anymore.

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