Is Britain Still in Decline?

By Brothwood, Paul | Contemporary Review, September 2003 | Go to article overview

Is Britain Still in Decline?


Brothwood, Paul, Contemporary Review


OVER the past fifty years, the world has seen Great Britain lose much of its greatness. This article is referring to the ability of Great Britain to be a world player in the political and economic sphere. Britain's decline may be seen by the erosion of the Empire; the remaining part of the Empire is under threat as shown by possible joint rule over Gibraltar with Spain. It may also be seen in its relative economic decline, loss of international prestige, especially pre-Margaret Thatcher, and loss of internal social cohesion. These along with other factors and challenges have led to Great Britain losing power at the political and economic level, although Mrs Thatcher almost helped reverse this, as explained later. The political and economic challenges faced by Britain arise on each of these levels: the European Union (EU), multiculturalism linked with positive discrimination and lack of vision. Obviously there are possibly more recent events which seem to be challenging Great Britain, for example Islamic fundamentalism and global terrorism. However, these have been identified and hopefully are slowly being tackled. The challenges I have highlighted have not been.

The EU has challenged and seems to be beating Great Britain on the political and economic level. Politically, the EU is seen by many as enhancing democracy. However many on the fight see it as a challenge to British politics, especially to democracy. So how is the EU challenging Britain politically? Firstly, the EU commissioners are mainly unaccountable and un-elected which has already led to corruption (costing over 5 billion [pounds sterling] a year); some 23,000 unelected and secretive bureaucrats make the laws of the EU, not the MEPs. Then, the commissioners are from each member state. The member states are pursuing their own interests, as shown by France on numerous occasions. These frequently conflict with other members' needs. Therefore an often weak compromise is agreed which gives no great benefit to any one member unlike state governments which are accountable to their electorate. Also, European laws and directives undermine British politics. Decisions made by the EU are now legally set to overrule each member state's sovereignty.

This is certainly not democratic and it could be further worsened by the proposed new European constitution which in some eyes is a virtual act of treason, committed by the British government. M. Giscard's scheme for decisions to be taken through a simplified majority system is just one of many signs of things to come, i.e. the suppression of smaller states, especially the newly incoming states. There are many possibly devastating consequences of such a scheme. It may lead to the possible suppression and potential isolation of small states. Elmar Brok, a German Christian Democrat MEP, argues that this is purely about reducing the powers of smaller EU countries. It would also mean the overruling of independent sovereign democratic governments. Elected governments within Great Britain are chosen by the people for the people. That government therefore has the right to choose the laws that govern the people. However, this can now be overridden by a bureaucratic, unaccountable, compromising power, the EU (note 90 per cent of all new legislation in the UK is from Brussels). Therefore, the EU always has and will challenge Britain and every other member politically and so far seems to be undermining them. Luckily for other member states, such as France, their governments look after their own despite EU regulations. So, to a certain degree Britain's government may be blamed for allowing regulations to be implemented despite the vast costs, e.g. the fishing industry has been destroyed by opening British fishing stocks to the Europeans.

This continuing challenge to British traditions will further undermine sovereignty and lead to the eventual collapse of a once great nation. One must note how Britain is distinctly different from continental European nations due to its long history of not being conquered for a thousand years and that neither Nazism nor Communism ever interfered with its political integrity.

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