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Post-imperial, post-colonial and now post-millennial, Britain is definitely not what it was. As a new century opens, even Scotland and Wales, not so very long ago indissoluble components of the "Inner Empire", are flexing their devolutionary muscles and looking about for new opportunities and relationships. The artificial nation-states of 19th century real-politik seem less and less viable in an age of blurred boundaries and regional alliances. What does this mean for the United Kingdom? What, ultimately, does it mean for England? Does the future lie with Europe or with the USA? Where do we turn? In The Day Britain Died political journalist (and expatriate Scot) Andrew Marr explores this unprecedented national identity crisis and offers a vision of a possible resolution.
It's a wide-ranging, incisively-written and often witty treatise. Marr wrote The Day Britain Died to accompany a television series, travelling the country to interview people at all points on the political and ideological spectrum, from romantic Little-Englander ruralists, to businessmen relishing their opportunities in the new global service industries, to Eurosceptics, to Bangladeshi entrepreneurs, to Green theorists and politicians. The views expressed on national identity and the future are varied, energetic and often surprising, but cannot disguise a sense that, in contrast to its neighbours, England as a nation is running on empty. Andrew Marr places this against the background of a subtle, considered discussion of the historical and political forces that shaped Britain and determined its relations with Europe, the USA and the rest of the world. He concludes with a powerfully-argued case for a revitalised British federation of interdependent states, backed up with a strong written constitution (and Alan Bennett as president--this may or may not be a joke). The issues this book raises are difficult and divisive, yet affect the lives of everyone living in the place still called Britain.--Robin Davidson