The Heritage Foundation

Special Report #76 on United Kingdom

January 26, 2010

January 26, 2010 | Special Report on United Kingdom

The Decline of Britain: A Cautionary Tale for America

Abstract: Similar trans-Atlantic experiences reflect more than the economic linkage between England and the United States or the well-known swing of the political pendulum. Most significantly, the echoes and counter-echoes demonstrate how, at the lowest common denominator, political fashion and, at the highest, political thinking in America and Britain take place in the same marketplace of ideas. This should give political commentators and strategists pause for thought. If Britain is on the wrong course and America follows, Britain will be even more dependent on its great traditional ally. More obviously, pursuing an authentically Anglo-Saxon route to decline offers no benefits to the United States. Consanguinity works both ways. What works in one of our countries has been shown to work in the other. But what fails in one country also fails in the other, and in crucial respects Britain is now failing. The country's palpable decline from its prosperity and security of just two decades ago constitutes an awful but, if intelligently observed, timely and useful warning to America.

Dr. Robin Harris served during the 1980s as an adviser at the United Kingdom Treasury and Home Office, as Director of the Conservative Party Research Department, and as a member of Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher's Downing Street Policy Unit. He continued to advise Lady Thatcher after she left office and has edited the definitive volume of her Collected Speeches. Dr. Harris is now an author and journalist. His books include Dubrovnik: A History(Saqi Books, 2003); Beyond Friendship: The Future of Anglo-American Relations(The Heritage Foundation, 2006); and Talleyrand: Betrayer and Saviour of France(John Murray, 2007).

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About the Author

Robin Harris, D. Phil. Senior Visiting Fellow