My Big Mouth: Was David Cameron’s defence of the UK the right way to go?


He slammed Russia’s remarks about our nation.


By Douglas Patient

Prime Minister David Cameron scored an enormous own-goal last week with his reaction to Russia’s jibe at Britain.

During the G20 summit, a Russian official allegedly described the UK as: ‘Just a small island: no one pays attention to them.’

Mr Cameron was hugely offended by the remark, and he was not alone. Tory MP Henry Smith tweeted that Russian President Vladimir Putin: ‘really is a tosser’.

The prime minister went on to launch an impassioned speech detailing Britain’s achievements, which in fact only succeeded in coming across as defensive and arrogant.

He detailed abolishing slavery and inventing sport. He even went as far as boasting about the sixth largest economy, and the fourth best-funded military.

“We are very proud of everything we do as a small island,” he said.

Thank you Mr Cameron for telling the world what we feel about our own achievements. But does he need to tell everyone this?

We as British citizens should not be defensive, especially after a stellar year in 2012 which included the Queen’s Jubilee and the Olympics. It is downright embarrassing that Mr Cameron feels the need to affirm our place within the global community to the rest of the world.

The jibe was from Russia too. Surely everyone is clear that Britain has a better human rights record and economy than Russia – no one needs Mr Cameron to tell them this.

But Britain is not the first country to react in a ludicrously defensive manner.

Greece are still embroiled in a dispute with Macedonia over the naming of their state. They feel their country could be diminished in some way if the former Yugoslav republic uses the name of one of their regions. In the meantime they must legally be named Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

Sticking with the Balkan theme, almost every Serbian politician agrees Kosovo should be part of Serbia despite a less than convincing claim to the land.

Also, walking around Istanbul you are confronted with numerous Turkish flags – you rarely see one block of flats without a flag draped from at least one of the windows. These kinds of aggressive ‘in your face’ nationalism are not what Britain should be involved in.

We should not follow the example of these countries. We should be comfortable with the place of Britain in the world and not have to answer people back. Mr Cameron should rethink how he reacts to petty comments about this country.

Photo courtesy of bisgovuk, with thanks.

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