The Blog

Is Britain Still Great?

Miriam Margolyes, the actress best known for playing Professor Sprout in the Harry Potter Films has moved to Australia; as many Brits do. However, unlike many: Margolyes seized the opportunity to take a cheap parting swipe at the country she leaves behind. Among her claims, Margolyes labeled Britain as having a lack of optimism, vitality and honesty (apparently Australians are straighter talking). All that said: does she have a point?

Optimism and vitality, now when did I last see those attributes in Britain? Oh yes that's right: the Olympics! Could it be that Margolyes was one of the only human beings on the planet to have her head buried in the sand last summer? No, I doubt it: more likely she was tuning in like so many of us, yet is one of those eternal pessimists. The problem is so many of us always hanker for greener grass, and fail to appreciate our own lawn. No matter how magical, how galvanizing that summer felt, to some it may never be enough.

Right what's next, we aren't as straight talking as our Ozzie counterparts. What made the news most this last week? Oh yes that's right, the painfully frank interview given by Prince Harry, who has been chastised on account of his honesty. So here we have the third in line to the throne, a man on who's shoulders falls much responsibility: being the epitome of straight talking. Aside from Harry; real debates are going about Britain, such as Scotland's place in the UK or whether indeed we should remain as part of the EU. These debates require a certain maturity that cut through normal political waffle. I just don't get what she means by us not being straight talking. Margolyes needs to qualify her assertions.

Over the last few years Britain has contributed to popular culture far more that our Common Wealth friends. We have given the world One Direction, Susan Boyle and Simon Cowell. We gave them the Kings Speech and a glut of real life royal based reminders that the news isn't always bad. We even felt charitable enough to give Elizabeth Hurley to Australia. You are most welcome: to be honest she had become more of a spare part.

Politically Britain still has a part to play on the global stage, albeit not up front and centre stage. Economically London still represents a glinting symbol of optimism, much like the elusive golden snitch in the Harry Potter books. Granted, I will say Sydney does a better New Years fireworks display, their weather is far superior, and their currency is laminated. Australia is a great country, yet so is ours. There is a reason we use the word 'great' as a prefix.

Margolyes has managed to forge a successful acting career out of the UK, and foster a private life, which as a gay woman could have been problematic in many countries. As a Jewish lady, Margolyes would have been free to exercise her faith in safe and nonjudgmental surroundings. Really, this is a successful lady whose gripe with our country is porous. May she enjoy this next chapter in her life. I hope that with time, nostalgia sets in, and she remembers what a great country Britain is!