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Let's stop listening to Mr Trump and get Britain back to its jingoistic best

PUBLISHED: 17:00 16 July 2019 | UPDATED: 17:00 16 July 2019

Britain needs to stand up to other world powers, not cower to them, says James Marston

Britain needs to stand up to other world powers, not cower to them, says James Marston

Tim Mbugua

James Marston says Britain needs to forget the rest and, once again, be the best

I've been enjoying reading articles and watching television programmes marking the 50th anniversary of the lunar landing, haven't you?

Rather like the moment you heard the news Kennedy had been shot or Diana had died, people seem to remember where they were and with whom they watched the lunar landing.

What an achievement. What must have it been like? What a moment when the world gazed skywards and held its collective breath.

The memory of the unifying purpose of the lunar mission, the stunning images of the beauty of the earth from such a distance, and the bringing together of mankind through the vehicle of its intrinsic and instinctive curiosity adds a new perspective to who we are and what we are all about even today.

And it is purpose and perspective that, it seems to me, we so often lack.

The recent news that Donald Trump has been at it again upsetting people via Twitter, perhaps says more about him - narcissism and self-indulgence - than the people he was trying to insult. The national humiliation of the resignation of our ambassador to the USA and Boris Johnson failing to support him and then saying he should have been more supportive of Sir Kim Darroch after all, perhaps says more about Boris' ambition and self-preservation than it does the abilities of Sir Kim who was simply telling the truth as he saw it, it does to me anyway.

I said to my mother the other day that I'd gone right off Trump and gone right off Boris. She said she never liked them much in the first place.

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But let us not forget that Donald Trump isn't our leader, we haven't voted for him, nor does he represent us here in Britain. I sometimes wonder if we pay far too much attention to him. Perhaps we should be calling out, not bowing down to, a man like Trump. It is certainly true, it seems to me, that we do seem to value our so-called special relationship with America far more than America does. A relationship in which the president can visit The Queen one week and insult her prime minister the next. A relationship in which what Donald thinks humiliates us on the international stage - and let's not forget our diplomatic service is among the best, if not the best, on the planet.

As we are changing our relationship with Europe - though I suspect only slightly - and America is turning in on itself as it works out how to deal with its own decline in the face of the rise of China - I wonder if Britain might dare to stand on its own two feet, a little bit more, once again.

We've done it before after all and I can't help wondering why we seem to be frightened to do so again. We might have our domestic issues but we are after all a nuclear power, a powerful economic force, a highly-developed country with world class public services, money and a world class economic brand.

I'm not arguing for a strong dictatorial leader that, in times like this, nations have turned to in the past but I am wondering if we ought to demand a bit more vision and admit that it is high time we fought a little bit harder for our own corner. History shows us that when we are backed into a corner we galvanise and share a sense of purpose; but at the moment we are appeasing forces and influences we need not appease.

We might have only ourselves to blame but the fact is our rather exaggerated focus on our somewhat overstated divisions are making us weak and our weakness is making us ineffective. We are in danger of losing our way and believing our own sense of failure.

And I for one cannot bear to see a weakened Britain not because of some dangerous or unpleasant nationalism but because of patriotism and a belief that Britain has much more to offer the world than this crippling torpidity and disappointing short-termism.

History tells us that times change and the pendulum swings in the end and yet paradoxically history also tells me that it is perhaps better to look forward rather than back. History also tells me things are rarely as bad as they seem. We have had tricky relationships with America and Europe in the past, Trump won't be the president forever, our new or modified relationship with the nation states of the European continent will emerge, time marches on and the future beckons.

In the meantime I can't bear to witness a Britain in decline, it's time it stopped and we regained a firmer sense of purpose and deeper sense of perspective. How we might do this is another question.

What do you think? Where were you when man landed on the moon? Is James right or mistaken? Do write to him at james.marston@archant.co.uk

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