Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Do we want to be the playground bullies?

Not for the first time, Cameron has employed the argument about the UK “punching above our weight” in relation to the Scottish independence referendum.  It’s something that sounds like a good thing – but is it?  What does it really mean?
At its crudest, it sounds like a school playground invitation to stick with the big bullies rather than be part of the group of smaller children suffering the bullying.  Only slightly less crudely, it implies that bigger states can and should get their own way more often and/or an unfair share of resources.  If it doesn’t mean any of those things, then it’s surely a meaningless phrase.
As a statement of the way things actually work in the world, it’s difficult to refute the argument.  In practice, might usually is “right”; but is it the way things should work?  Is it the way we want things to be?
I certainly don’t, and I’m not convinced that maintaining the strength of the bullies – which is what Cameron is effectively proposing – is the best way of tackling bullying.  It’s not the advice which Cameron would give to children who were being bullied at school (or at least I don’t think it is!), so why do so when it comes to the big school of international politics?

2 comments:

Glyn Morris said...

Isn't the UK more like the kid who hangs about with the bullies fawning over them and egging them on to pick on some other Kid in the hope they don't pick on him.

Anonymous said...

Great Britain has long been allowed to 'punch above' its weight because of the role this nation played in many of the great wars of the 20th century, most notably, the second world war.

The deference shown by so many other nations even today is, in many ways, entirely understandable. But it will not last for ever.

Scotland and the inhabitants thereof form an integral part of the Great Britain. To lose such a part may well lead to a diminution of deference and a weakening of 'punching power' for both the English and Scottish nations.

Your interpretation of David Cameron's remarks are entirely consistent with the never-ending, non-decision making flip-flopping of some parts of Wales in relation to its status within the UK.

It's a Welsh thing. The rest of us have learnt to live with it. But it seems you cannot.