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  • Britain – Great or not?
  • joolsburger
    Free Member

    In what way does Britain still positively contribute to the world at large?

    My lad is doing a project and I'm interested in the hive mind's views I'm struggling really as other places seem to do it better these days.

    Full Member

    emergency services.
    hurt yourself in some other parts of the world, and you will see why britain is great.

    Free Member

    i hate this 'hive mind' term. it's like 'steed'.

    Anyway. agree with the big boy, the NHS/'free' healthcare.

    I tend not to agree we are 'Great' though, i would rather think we are being shown our place in the world, we were once perhaps Great but now we are as normal as other countries.

    To consider ourselves superior is arrogant.

    This does not apply to Scots however as we are simply Awesome!

    Free Member

    aye, the NHS

    some socialist elements still exist – i.e. a belief in supporting the common man rather than treading on them to succeed

    freedom of speech (yes – but compared to a lot of other countries)

    tea :-)

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    Full Member

    +1 for Tea

    Only place you can get decent Tea (that I've found)…

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    We're pretty good at Music, Finance (ok a recent blip with a few), technology, bio-technology, bespoke ship building, engineering, architecture, fashion, food, annoying celebs (Simon Cowell etc) and not bad at some niche sports (DH biking) . :-)

    Free Member

    great at providing free health care!

    great at sending troops to Iraq and Afgahnistan. USA is better at it, though.

    great sense of humour/comedy.

    other nations, especially germany, think we're cool (and based on the outfit your average hausfrau, jugend or cluberin wears you'd be right).

    great at making nature programmes (Trails of Life, Life on Earth, etc).

    Free Member

    We gave the world the English language and for that we are truly great :-)

    Free Member

    You don't realise what's good about britain til you go elsewhere.

    People actually mostly give a crap about other people here, when it comes down to it. Which is why we queue, and say 'excuse me' and all. And why we have good emergency services and even volunteer ones (ie mountain rescue). It's also less racist than most places, and more tolerant of alternative lifestyles ie gay/trannie etc.

    Also, watch TV or listen to music in the rest of the world. Nuff said. Apart from the anglophone world, it's mostly utter dreck.

    We are also apparently quite good at high tech industries…

    Why not take a trip to London and really have a look at who's there and what they're doing. Full of folk from all over the world come there to work in some interesting job or do their art, cook their food and so on.

    Read a British newspaper and compare it to other countries.. listen to a radio phone-in… watch the news *carefully*…

    Free Member

    Beer, real beer.
    Food, I mean I like food the world over, but its all available here. Most other countries look after their own really.
    We invented (nearly) everything.
    English language.
    NHS, as above^^
    Sport – Cycling, Rowing
    Wind power Generation

    Free Member

    forgot to say – we have Radio 4.

    Maybe we are great after all!

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    Where else in the world can you get a decent cooked breakfast (OK not including the USA)

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    Our armed forces are the best trained in the world, second to none.

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    yeah, i'll add




    armed forces

    to my list :-)

    Free Member

    The Bacon Buttie
    Saddle bags
    A sense of fair play
    Pomp and Circumstance
    …and lately, the use of the word 'innit', as in my mum wants me to marry this guy, but I've never even seen him, and my cousin says he has a Ferrari, innit? Which, to a Northen lad, sounds like poetry but in a slightly foreign way…

    Britain is really great at being British, and being British as a 'thing' has expanded beyond anyones dream. The problem comes when people try to define it, to pin it down, to make it fit; that's not what being British is, it's the ability to be yourself, where ever you are, it's a feeling, it's a sense, it's what makes us who we are…..

    Full Member

    The big test of the Great in GB will be if we manage to persuade the Argentinians to completely withdraw their claims to the Falklands for another 100 years.

    We can't be Great if we don't have a proper Navy to back it up.

    Full Member

    National parks, volunteer mountain rescue team and RNLI, A very good and respected military, a (mostly) unarmed Police force, Ace music, diverse culture, a very good university system (much as I hate to admit it Oxbridge is world renowned), the best architects, the best formula one teams, tea, David Attenbrough, Radio4 etc. etc.

    Oh, and we have Stephen Fry too :)

    Free Member

    Errr…. just testing… we do all realise that the 'Great' in 'Great Britain' simply means 'large' (as in, we're bigger than Brittany), and not great as in 'really good'?

    What is Britain good for? Well we probably make more of a cultural contribution than you could expect for a country our size (e.g., music etc.).

    Free Member

    a small thing but i read that an astonishing amount of high-end nascar and indy car parts are maniufactured by specialists in the uk and shipped over to the states. Not that I would be mentioning that too loudly in the stands at some oval in the midwest!

    I also love the beeb and the music.

    Oh, british people invented looooads of sports as well, non?

    Free Member

    Great(er) Britain because it includes all the islands, apart from Ireland. Britain is just the main island.

    Free Member

    Great of course in Great Britain is in the sense of big or large not best is it not?

    Still –

    NHS – we do more for less than anywhere comparable

    Music – still a huge worldwide influence

    Beer – the best in the world and huge regional variety

    Free Member

    NHS – we do more for less than anywhere comparable

    I wonder why no other country copied the NHS model then?

    Free Member

    No profit in it and differing traditions. For example Germany had a much larger and healthier voluntary / religious hospital set up so no need to absorb them into a monolithic concern. Its not perfect by any means but we provide better healthcare per £ spent than any comparable country and we spend less on administration than any comparable country

    Free Member

    'we' are still a fine example of a society with free speech, diversity and originality where individuality is largely respected and valued…….

    Free Member

    how the hell did i forget beer!

    Full Member

    how the hell did i forget beer!

    Too sh*tfaced on cider, I expect.

    Full Member

    Darts being a sport.

    Free Member

    The NHS
    The RNLI
    British Army
    Royal Navy
    Fire Brigade
    The Police
    Oh man I could go on all night.

    Great? Hell yes!

    Free Member

    Orange bikes
    Hope components
    Well it is an MTB forum

    Full Member

    Great Britain, as others have pointed out has its meaning dervied in size. We became Great Britain after the Acts of Union with Scotland.

    Britain then became great through its navy. It facilitated existing trade routes, and then became a mean through which Britain could impose its own trading terms. Not long after follo0wed gunboat diplomacy, and then an empire.

    This conventional view is then expanded by Britain's very self interested approach to national security. Having conquered internally and created the construct of Great Britain (OK, Ireland has remained a thorn in the side), the key then was to protect the borders, which as an island are significfant (c.15% of Europe's coastline). So, it has been Britain's policy to ensure that whichever mainland European nation develops too much power (mainly France, and also Germany now and again and more recently). With the construct of the EU (and its previous incarnations) it has been key to find our place in it in order to maintain this approach.

    Having built the largest empire in modern times, it was, as is the way with all empires (go back and look at the Chinese empires onwards), it finally came to an end with the creation of the Radcliffe Line and with it Pakistan. Since August 1947, Britain has no longer been "great" in the sense of its primacy as a self interested expansionist capitalist nation state (whilst retaining the oddity of stateless nations within), and so has struggled with its inevitable decline.

    This decline – and don't think for a minute this is a nation in any other state – has been ameliorated by certain key peaks – the establishment of the welfare state, culture imperialism (though we are deluded if we think that competes in any way with the USA during the C20th), and an enlightened (though, of course, entirely financially driven – we needed a workforce) attitude to inward economic migration has, in combination with the historic desire to make as much cash as possible, meant that we attract more apparent international attention than a nationof 60 million inhabitants might otherwise expect.

    The cultural aspect is probably the most significant since the middle of the C20th, and Britain's influence was most of all through its demand that so much of its recent empire speak English. The stroke of luck was the USA's own influence – pop music and film lead here, the former containing our own contribution – has cemented that. Much of that is because we have a very relaxed attitude to the development of the language, allowing it to take on all it needs from all others (e.g. bungalow, pyjamas, cul-de-sac, graphic) without being too fussy like french.

    Our time has passed, and it pains us to watch the rise of China and India, but we have to accept that our greatness lies not in what we continue to do on a macro level now (I agree about individual things), but what we did for 500 years up to 1947.

    Full Member

    The bbc simply rocks and is a corner stone of our cultural life and is a genuine voice in the world with the world service. Amnesty International was started in Briton. We are at forefront of global research in to climate change. We own 10% of the space engineering market, with a very limited investment compared to other countries. We are quite big in medicinal research. We have some of the best universities in the world.

    We are always open to adapting and redeveloping. I think we are going through some massive changes at the moment but I really think the creative energy of this country will see us progressing as we always have.

    I think there is a hell of alot left in us yet!

    Free Member

    We're all from Britain and therefor Britain is great!


    Free Member

    We're still a fairly major hub for the art world. Tate Modern is arguably the most successful art museum in the world

    Most of the the major players behind the scenes in Hollywood, on the technical / craft side are british, infact most of them started out working on thunderbirds. And of course all of the baddies are british too.

    We're also a big deal in motor racing in terms of the design and manufacture, I was reading somewhere that most of the most cars racing in things like the Indy Car series in the states are british built (regardless of who's badge is on them), as are almost all of the engines. Subaru's rally cars are/were british too.

    We have the kind of culture that creates very successful architects, but not the kind of culture that patronises them which is why our UK architects keep winning plaudits for buildings they built in Germany :-)

    The BBC has set the bar in broadcasting and no other broadcasters anywhere can come close, and never have and probably never will.

    The NHS, and particularly the NHS right now is phenomenal. Absolutely sparklingly bullseye fricking brilliant. Myself and pretty much everyone close to me have had to patronise our local hospitals in the last 12 months, and the conclusion we all share is that hospitals are better beyond recognition than the last time any of us needed treatment. If you've not been sick or injured in the last 10 years I'd recommend you contract the plague or chuck yourself down a flight of stairs so that you can go check out your local hospital. Right now they are ace, ripe for being run back into the ground again from June no doubt.

    If your lad can get his hands on a copy the Economic and Social Research Council publish a magazine called 'Britain in 2010' (or Britain in 2009 if you pick up last years copy), its a fascinating publication in that it takes the issues that are kicked around in politics or the press (or the pub) – health, crime, sustainability, immigration and so on and presents them without political or populist baggage (or Jeremy Vine). In doing so it reveals alot of the perception gaps we have, which contribute to your sense of 'other places seeming to do it better'.

    Free Member

    we punch well above our weight in almost every field, whats not great about that 8O

    Free Member

    I was reading somewhere that most of the most cars racing in things like the Indy Car series in the states are british built

    In fact I was reading that in julianwilson's post :P

    Free Member

    well when you put it like all of that, I suppose it's not a bad place.

    weather could be better though* ;-)

    * something else we're great at, discussing the weather

    Free Member

    only realised after leaving how Great Britain is, that being said we are not coming back as there are too many people and too many of them are not very nice people

    it saddens me to say that also

    Free Member

    Having built the largest empire in modern times

    The biggest ever, no?

    Omitn – you seem to connect 'great' with military or political power. This isn't necessarily the case.. Plus, the OP asked what made Britain great not whether or not it actually IS great. That is to say, what's great about it?

    Geopolitical influence is definitely in decline but that's not necessarily a problem. I think we can hold our head reasonably high (along with some other countries) on how we treat our citizens, and the balance we strike between universal welfare and individual enterprise. It's a very very long way indeed from perfect, tragically so, but it's still better than a great many powerful countries.

    Anyone who considers China great is ignoring human rights, which is a big deal.

    Free Member

    Unfortunately the last decade we have lost our claim to moral leadership which is a pity. Its interesting mind you that Britain ever had a reputation for this considering the brutality of much of the Empire. I suppose we did get out of the Empire reasonably easily without too much bloodshed and have remained on good terms with much of the former empire.

    Its one reason why folk seeking asylum come here – the reputation for fair play. Shame they don't get it when they come here – being treated worse here than almost anywhere else/

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