I am a little at odds how to approach this thorny subject. Should I first kind of ease you into it, and then drop the bad stuff on after, or should I just come right out and offend you Brits a bit, and then give you soothing cuddles and whisper sweet nothings into your ear to follow up?
Everyone loves a bit of an emotional rollercoaster, so let’s save the cuddles till last, shall we?
I am going to make a few of you a little agitated now. If you are British and reading this, you might end up huffing and puffing a tad, and your stiff upper lip may begin to quiver at the bally gall of this banker’s banter. But hey ho, here we go because it is way past time someone told you Brits how you really are viewed outside the Empire.
The drop in the credit rating was way past due. The UK should have been given it ages ago. I mean no disrespect by this, but when there aren't any Brits around, the foreigners joke about them by referring to them as a developing country.
“Ya Fritz, zees Inglish, zey are such a developing nation. You know zey drink zi beer varm.”
“Ich Weiss Hans, und zey have zi cold houses.”
“Hahaa. Ya Fritz, did you know? Zey still have zi varm wasser und zi cold wasser coming from zi two different taps!”
“Haaahaaaa, kalt und varm, from zi zwei different taps. Careful now, Hans, I am liable to choke on my Braatwurst. Zwei taps! I must now Roll on zi Floor weil Laughing my Arsche Off.”
I'm sorry, but someone had to break it to you, and there you have it. Pull your socks up and shoot your cuffs Ye Olde English gentleman—you'll just have to grin and bear it.
The UK and it’s people have never been keen on change. It’s what has held them back, what cost them the Empire and what got them to the point they are in now. But you know what? They don't care, as it's the way they like it, and what's more, it's why the rest of the world loves them.
Despite the fact that the Brits are still obsessed with WWII, even Fritz and Hans (mentioned above) love the Brits to bits. The Germans can’t get enough of British comedy. To Ze Germanz, it doesn’t get any funnier than Mr. Bean or Monty Python.
And the French? They wanted to come to the UK so much they helped dig a tunnel there. Now anyone who earns more than minimum wage in France wants to live in the UK, even their immigrants want to emigrate to the UK.
You get my point right? Everyone loves the Brits.
Now we come to the cute and cuddly bit. Let me put the minds of all my British readers (who read this far) to rest. The United Kingdom will continue to flourish. You have absolutely nothing to worry about. Alas, I don’t believe you will achieve temperature adjustable water out of the same tap, but one should not be trying to reach too high.
There are three reasons why the UK will continue to do well and I will list them here, please note that these are not independent of each other as they are linked. Think of them as one of those three-legged stools. If one of them disappears, the whole thing falls over.
1. Language. Yep, simple as that. We humans are a unique species in that, unlike other species, we can calculate a value to things. This has enabled us to partake in commerce. This whole global system is based on our ability to transact business amongst each other. Business transactions tend to require language, and English is the global language of business. Simple! Deals are closed in English, and since that’s the language coming out of the UK, it will continue to get its fair share of global business.
2. Time. The UK sits slap bang in the middle of Asia and the US. It is one hour behind the rest of Europe, and that hour makes all the difference. Business is conducted with Asia in the morning, and after a quick lunch run to Costa Coffee for a latte and sandwich, business is conducted in the afternoon with the United States; all through the day business can be conducted with Fritz and Hans in Europe. Ain't that nice?
3. Higher education. The UK still has great universities and people from all over the world flock to them to be away from their parents, drink copious amounts of alcohol and try to have lots of sex. Once they are done with all the debauchery and actually start working for a living, some of the top talent will inevitably settle in the country where they came to study. Basically, UK is one sticky place for talent. People come there thinking they are just passing through, but end up developing a taste for Coronation Street, ze varm beer and Walkers Salt & Vinegar Crisps.
Lest I forget, one more point regarding the credit rating agencies. Time and time again, they’ve made themselves look like Basil Fawlty on an exceptionally troublesome day. One should keep in mind that these are private corporations. Since when should any government make policy based on the opinions of a company with a consistent and long track record of making an absolute balls-up of all its opinions?
There is actually one nation in Europe who actually anchors its fiscal policy on their credit rating. Yes, they really do make policy based on what a private company says about them. That country you’ll be surprised to learn is Finland.
Finland is in fact just one news headline away from going from triple-A to junk. So that really is another rating agency debacle waiting to happen. But that’s for another blog post altogether.
So fret not my British friends, the future remains bright and chirpy for your island nation. Brittania may not rule the waves anymore, but it will continue to surf and ride high on the waves of global commerce.
So, to put it in English that the English can understand: chin up, mustn't grumble.