Landscape, built and natural heritage, loyalty, integrity and liberalism – those are just a few of the things that still make it great to be British – according to a panel of experts at this week’s CLA Game Fair at Belvoir Castle.
The debate was organised by Country Life magazine and chaired by deputy editor, Rupert Uloth and the high powered panel included General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, former journalist, Simon Jenkins, who is chairman of the National Trust, Kate Hoey MP and CLA Game Fair host, the Duchess of Rutland, were asked to discuss whether it was still great to be British.
The chairman kicked off by saying that political scandals, diminished world influence and the economic crisis might suggest that the answer was no – but asked whether the panel thought that the determination and innovation that brought industry and empire could still be employed to re-invent Great Britain.
Left to right: Simon Jenkins, Kate Hoey MP, Rupert Uloth, The Duchess of Rutland and General Sir Richard Dannatt
Gen. Dannatt said that, for him, the issue revolved around whether it was still a fine and honourable thing to be a British soldier. ‘The British Army is, actually, only about 86% British but despite its ethnic and cultural diversity, it works because Scots or Welsh, Fijian or West Indian, we all owe allegiance to The Queen. Despite whatever social or ethnic background my people come from, they are all part of the British Army and when I see the people of Wotton Bassett out on the streets following our dead, I understand that the people of this country know what it is to be right and to be respected and I know that it is a fine and honourable thing to be a British soldier.’
Simon Jenkins said he believed that the National Trust had saved some of the greatest indicators of Britishness – the great houses and the heritage. But he warned that people needed to be on guard against the potential loss of other great indicators of what kept Britain great – the landscapes.
Listen to the entire debate, Is it still Great to be British , on the Game Fair radio station.
Photograph: Charles Sainsbury-Plaice