By Matt Tomlin
The South China Morning Post have recently released a mostly appearance-based article branding Britain as “Useless”. This seems at face value like a typical personal attack on the appearance and being of Britain but it actually has a lot of worth considering the situation with our leaders and a lot of issues they’re meant to be dealing with. Instead of analysing the situations highlighted by the article mentioned, it is better to look beyond just superficiality and study how Britain and its establishment is really failing both its population and itself so that it can be called “useless”.
For the UK to not be “useless” on the world stage, it shouldn’t fail its own citizens and set a terrible example. Austerity measures made by the current government of seven years have meant A&E wards are, more often than not, filled with patients awaiting hospital beds due to a lack of NHS investment and cuts to social care. The crisis with housing and government funding in Britain labelled 57750 households in the country “homeless” in 2016 also. This is up 6% from 2015 and is only a fraction of over 200000 families who attempted to find help from their local council about homelessness worries last year. The main idea this government has based itself off of is the need to cut budgets for some of the most important services that help everyone get by and the examples used are just two on a list of many which prove Britain is “useless” at being a successfully developed country.
Another way for Britain to not fail its citizens and the world would be to have a successful economy. The Conservative Government has repeatedly supported a “long term economic plan” over the course of its place in power. Reports from the Summer show this has not come into place. The Film industry and inflation have offered a very slight, and possibly temporary, boost to growth but it is safe to say the economy is a joke at the moment. The uncertainty about Brexit is also causing Britain’s GDP growth to slow significantly with forecasts for 2018 putting GDP growth for the UK at just 1% with many other developed countries’ GDPs predicted to grow much more. Even the Eurozone on average has expected GDP growth of 1.9% despite its lack of economic desirability. Searching for new trade deals is also not something that is being done well by Britain at the moment. Negotiations with the EU have come to what is being reported as a deadlock. Theresa May’s speech at the UN last month attracted few interested buyers in the audience and “strong and stable leadership” does not exist right now because of a number of failures by the government in this way.
Britain’s negotiating power is not strong. Its economy is not necessarily stable. Public services are not able to get on with the job. Britain, the “useless” way it is now at least, is failing in a lot of senses.
By Bob Wigin
To claim that Britain is a ‘failing country’ or that it is ‘completely useless’ is patently ridiculous. The piece in the South China Morning Post to which I respond asserts that Britain is losing its footing on the world stage. In the piece, the writer states that British activist Benedict Rogers should not have been refused access to Hong Kong. Rogers was to visit some jailed pro-democracy activists but was turned away at the airport. Supposedly, no notice should have been taken of Rogers by the Chinese government. But, that fact that he was stopped shows that Britain’s core values and principles are part of what make it relevant on a global scale.
Although we are not the most powerful nation on the planet, this does not mean that we are ‘failing’. We certainly have global influence and the UK is still seen as one of the best places in the world to live and do business. The financial services that people from across the world use in London are second to none. For example, investors won’t get tied up with the red tape that they would were they to work in New York. Furthermore, Mark Carney has said that the size of The City could double after Brexit negotiations have ended. The British economy is doing very well with unemployment is at its lowest level since 1975. Plus, people still wish to come and live here, and net migration has never been in negative figures since 1993. Do these statistics point towards a failing nation?
As for Britain’s military clout, it is true that we used to be able to punch well above our weight. We still can, but not as much as we used to be able to. For, it is not that Britain’s armed forces are in decline, but that other nations’ have expanded to a size that they should be. On paper, Britain should not be able to beat Russia in a war and that’s okay, but it does not mean that we are ‘useless’. No nation’s military is totally infallible, as we have seen with the four accidents that occurred for the US Navy in the Pacific Ocean this year. It can be seen then that not one country can police the entire world, and Britain certainly doesn’t claim to be able to. But who wouldn’t want us on their side if it came to WWIII?
Responding directly to the South China Morning Post piece once again, there are five permanent members on the UN security council. The big three are of course China, the USA and Russia, but if France can also make the list then the UK certainly ought to be able to. Moreover, there are ten non-permanent council members which include the likes of Kazakhstan and Senegal. Is Britain useless compared to these countries?
No country can claim to be perfect and Britain certainly wouldn’t want to do so. But, as I have previously pointed out, Britain’s opinion is still valued across the world.