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When Britain Really Was Great!

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My Father has been sorting out a lot of paperwork recently and his extensive collection of aircraft and car memorabilia has surfaced with me inheriting a lot of it!!! (hundreds of 1950/60's car and truck brochures).

One of the items I picked out yesterday was an advert in the October 1935 edition of 'Popular Flying' for Rolls Royce aero engines that seemed to demonstrate a golden age of British Manufacturing at it's best:

post-6667-0-72374900-1339409353_thumb.jp

When do you think Britain was (or still is?) truly 'Great'?

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Sad really, we are only a shadow of our former selves.

Some years ago we took some French over to the Empire Exhibtion at Windsor where I learned that the industrial output of the UK circa 1900 was more than the rest of Europe put together.

However since then we have fought two world wars which impoverished us greatly, leaving us with massive debts which were not paid off until 2006. In the meantime our "ally", the US of A prospered, it seems, at our expense to rise to become the world No 1 power but without the experience and knowhow to make a good job of it using the philosophy to throw money at problems in order to solve them.

I recall growing up in the 50's when the UK was still at the forefront of world aeronautical engineering when we used talent and brains on a shoe string budget to develop aircraft at the cutting edge of the day. Alas, it came to the time when the government decided we could not even afford the shoestring budget, so we started buying off the shelf from the Americans, whilst the talent we had nurtured went overseas in the 'brain drain'.

We then went into a period of poor management, restrictive practices by unions and at times poor government which caused our industry to go into a serious decline. But what is worse, we lost our former national spirit which in former times had helped us through periods of adversity to become a nation of 'me me me - I want it all now'. We lost our way.

The annoying thing about today is that we still have the raw material for the enterprise which originally made us great but this is held back by endless red tape and mis-directed efforts.

One thing we should realise is that in order to achieve great things we need men and women of great vision and accountants are not necessarily people of great vision.

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Britain wasn't all great. Dig a little deeper and you'll see some of the darker aspects of Britain's effect on the rest of the world.

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Britain wasn't all great. Dig a little deeper and you'll see some of the darker aspects of Britain's effect on the rest of the world.

I agree we did things in the past for which we can be ashamed, such as being the biggest drug dealer the world had ever known, a slave dealer, being instigator of concentration camps in South Africa during the Boer War, the way we, with France, carved up the middle east after WWI, dishonouring promises made by 'Lawrence of Arabia' and the way Africa was carved up without giving due thought to the original tribal areas and a lot of these are chickens which have come home to roost making our current lives more difficult.

If only we had a time machine which would have enabled us to look into the future with 20/20 foresight we could have avoided a lot of these but life isn't like that - we are conditioned by the attitudes of our time so what appeared to be pefectly reasonable 100 or 200 years ago isn't so today.

I remember sometime in the mid 90's I was driving around the M25 when Bernie Grant, the former firebrand MP for Tottenham was being interviewed on the radio and I could hardly believe my ears when he said that out of all the colonial powers the British Empire was the most benevolent.

A few days ago I was at a lunch which was visited by an ex pat domiciled in Sri Lanka - Union Jack paper serviettes had been placed out and he gathered these up with the intention of taking them back to his Tamil friends, saying that they would regard these as a family heirloom. British institutions were still held in high regard.

Over the years I have heard many other snippets which indicate that there are many people all over the world nostalgic for the 'old days of the raj'.

So as well as doing some things we would rather not tell mother about we did a lot of good and had a great influence over a good portion of the world, so much so that people have adopted our political system, our legal system and our language. We opened up continents with railway systems which are still in use today, so on balance I would say we did a lot more good than harm. In the 19th Century we were amongst the first to abandon the slave trade and start developing the idea that in fact all men were equal, though some still need to be convinced even to this day.

If on the other hand we consider the history of the USA the original inhabitants were variously tricked out of their lands, they were murdered and relegated to second class citizens confined to reservations and this was despite the American Constitution declaring all men equal. Many went to Canada which at the time was still a British Dominion, as did the black slaves to escape their oppression.

It took really until the last quarter of the 20th century before the minority Americans started to begin to get anything approaching equality with racial bigotry in some areas still existing under the surface.

If we fast forward to the present day China is making forays into Africa in a similar fashion to which we did in the 19th Century. They are bringing in some prosperity to the locals, though making sure they retain the lion's share for themselves.

So in conclusion, although our behaviour was not always as good as we like to think, in my view the British Empire brought a great deal of benefits to the world.

Anyway as SS pointed out a few days ago, Britain gained the prefix 'great' not because of her achievements but by the incoporation of Scotland into the fold, some 400 years ago, when she became known as 'Great Britain and Ireland'.

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Actually Great Britain is a geographical term for the island that consist of England Scotland and Wales. As for being ashamed for what happened in the past that is a complete load of nonsense. All those things that happened a 100 years or 500 years or 1000 years ago where acceptable at the time and the norm nobody new any different. Today our perception of what is acceptable has changed and continues to change who is to say that in 200 years time people will look back on us as being morally and culturally corrupt something to be ashamed of?

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Our greatest time was undoubtedly the 19th century post the Napoleonic war, we had unrivaled dominance, France was in ruin and the USA was not yet a global superpower, truly we were the greatest power the world had ever known.

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Our greatest time was undoubtedly the 19th century post the Napoleonic war, we had unrivaled dominance, France was in ruin and the USA was not yet a global superpower, truly we were the greatest power the world had ever known.

Which is, arguably, just the kind of jingoistic nationalism that's been pulling the world apart for millennia...

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Which is, arguably, just the kind of jingoistic nationalism that's been pulling the world apart for millennia...

On the contrary, i am a great believer in global unity. I just believe that Britain has no reason to be proud these days, we have a country full of lefties and Europhobes.

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On the contrary, i am a great believer in global unity. I just believe that Britain has no reason to be proud these days, we have a country full of lefties and Europhobes.

Well, SB, if 'lefties' and 'Europhobes' are the problem then we do have trouble: the most vociferous of Europhobes belong to the right?

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Which is, arguably, just the kind of jingoistic nationalism that's been pulling the world apart for millennia...

Not necessarily jingoistic - just reporting history as we find it - it is important for people to have a sense of their history, where they came from and who they are, not only that a proper sense of history can, if we take notice of it, save us from repeating mistakes over and over again - in short we can learn from it.

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On the contrary, i am a great believer in global unity. I just believe that Britain has no reason to be proud these days, we have a country full of lefties and Europhobes.

I'm not a leftie or a Europhobe - I just happen to live here, though I do find I am out of step with most of the mainstream media.

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Not necessarily jingoistic - just reporting history as we find it - it is important for people to have a sense of their history, where they came from and who they are, not only that a proper sense of history can, if we take notice of it, save us from repeating mistakes over and over again - in short we can learn from it.

True Mike, but will we ever learn from those mistakes if we keep looking back and imagining some kind of Golden Age...

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True Mike, but will we ever learn from those mistakes if we keep looking back and imagining some kind of Golden Age...

A wise man would keep these things in perspective :)

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True Mike, but will we ever learn from those mistakes if we keep looking back and imagining some kind of Golden Age...

But why do some people/groups have to keep harping on about our 'shameful past' as if the present UK population has to apologise?!

S#d it! It's history! it happened! Live with it!

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Britain's history is nothing to be proud off for the most part. Neither is our now tbf, but living standards are relatively high for Europe (maybe not so for W.Europe) and that should be the main thing we concentrate on.

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But why do some people/groups have to keep harping on about our 'shameful past' as if the present UK population has to apologise?!

S#d it! It's history! it happened! Live with it!

But I'm neither 'apologizing' nor 'harping on', BB...I just ain't singing praises either...

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Britain's history is nothing to be proud off for the most part. Neither is our now tbf, but living standards are relatively high for Europe (maybe not so for W.Europe) and that should be the main thing we concentrate on.

I Think you have seen too many silly Mel Gibson films.

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On the contrary, i am a great believer in global unity. I just believe that Britain has no reason to be proud these days, we have a country full of lefties and Europhobes.

Tourism is Britain’s 5th largest industry, our 3rd largest export earner and worth c£115 billion a year. It employs c2.6 million people and supports over 200,000 SME’s. Overseas visitors contribute £3 billion to the Treasury every year . I guess they come here for the weather drinks.gif

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But why do some people/groups have to keep harping on about our 'shameful past' as if the present UK population has to apologise?!

S#d it! It's history! it happened! Live with it!

People obsess too much over past events, just look at the guilt put upon Germany even now.

I'm not a leftie or a Europhobe - I just happen to live here, though I do find I am out of step with most of the mainstream media.

True, i was speaking generally.

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On the contrary, i am a great believer in global unity. I just believe that Britain has no reason to be proud these days, we have a country full of lefties and Europhobes.

So you think we have no reason to be proud because people think differently to you? That is highly ridiculous. You need to move to a totalitarian or authoritarian regime if you want to live in a country where everyone adheres to the same thinking. The sad thing is, I fear that is exactly what you want.

Personally, I am getting pretty sick and tired of this entire pessimistic thinking that has become an epidemic in the UK over the past 10 or 15 years. Either way, Great Britain will always be great because that's the name of the island.

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People obsess too much over past events, just look at the guilt put upon Germany even now.

Oh I don't know about that.

"History will be kind to me for I intend to write it"

I'm sorry what guilt? I thought we were .entering into the stage of the fourth Reich.

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We have a past, some good, some bad. It has little bearing on our country now, although our legacy in many parts of the world is still there.

It's partly this attitude of "great" Britain, which holds us back now. There are people who think we should still sneer & laugh at the poor foreigners. Instead we should accept what & where we are. A smalI island off the coast of mainland Europe.

Our history means we still punch well above our weight both economically & politically, but our future lies with the rest of Europe. We need them & whilst they will get by without us, Europe as a whole will be much stronger for our full involvement & commitment.

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There is both good and bad in our history - surely it is better to learn where we went wrong to try and prevent the same thing happening again and learn where we did well so we can take inspiration rather than turn our back on history altogether - that way we are able to progress for within history there is a route map to the future.

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So you think we have no reason to be proud because people think differently to you? That is highly ridiculous. You need to move to a totalitarian or authoritarian regime if you want to live in a country where everyone adheres to the same thinking. The sad thing is, I fear that is exactly what you want.

Personally, I am getting pretty sick and tired of this entire pessimistic thinking that has become an epidemic in the UK over the past 10 or 15 years. Either way, Great Britain will always be great because that's the name of the island.

I agree with you on this, and as you know I am often moan about this country as well, but even I must admit there are things to be proud of, I won't be hanging up a union jack anytime soon or supporting the royal family, but thought that summer blizzard's comment about nothing to be proud of was wrong, every nation has something to be proud of which sets them apart from the rest, and yes there are a large number of Europhobes but even as someone who likes to generalise, he can't really say that everyone is a Europhobe, because that isn't true, not proud to be British personally, but do admire/respect the great things, such as the great music, comedy and our past influence over the world despite being a small nation, so him saying that everyone should hate being British is silly, that what makes the Human Race so great, we all think different.

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