Wednesday, 30 October 2013

British Empire, British Commonwealth, Commonwealth and now... what?

There has been a progression, from the heights of Queen Victoria's Empire to the British Empire followed by the British Commonwealth and later on by the Commonwealth. An article published by the Daily Telegraph blames successive British governments - both Labour and Conservative - for blatantly ignoring the Commonwealth. One must ask if the process does not work both ways and for very good reasons.

Since the days of the pro-independence movements, there was an organized rejection of anything British to the point that even the word British was thrown out and the loose organization became known as Commonwealth incorporating countries that had never been under British rule.

Since the formation of the Common Market, followed by the European Community and now the European Union, British politicians were more interested in promoting greater and stronger links with European countries, rather than trying to maintain links with countries with which - apart from long gone colonial links - Britain has little in common.

It must be said that there are three kinds of Commonwealth countries: some have strong cultural and ethnic links with Britain, others were part of a colonial past and others never had practically anything in common since they were not even British colonies.

We, collectively, should forget about any kind of Romanticism and look at the practicalities to decide what needs to be done about what we usually call Commonwealth. The past is long gone and now we need to focus on present realities on a case by case basis.

There have been fundamental economic, political and ideological changes. Strong cooperation based on good bilateral relations could be a much better way of moving forward, instead of being permanently anchored in the past.

We went from the British Empire to the British Commonwealth, from the British Commonwealth to the Commonwealth. Perhaps now is the time to forget about the Commonwealth. We must look at each individual country and decide what kind of links we would like to have if any at all. 

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