A leader is best when people barely know he exists, when his work is done, his aim fulfilled, they will say: we did it ourselves. Lao Tzu
Freedom for the United Kingdom from 40 years of managed decline within the European Union (EU) offers some exciting leadership opportunities, for the benefit of all. And to be an inspiration to many throughout the world who live in far less happy or free and peaceful lands. We could give them reasons to hope and the essential practical tools to achieve, if not their dreams, an improvement.
Historically, by temperament and philosophical outlook we are somewhat serendipitously gifted to lead in many fields and ‘start the ball rolling’, once we are no longer held back. Certainly leaving the EU would be a huge confidence building exercise – successfully opposing overwhelming power, odds and the frenzied harbingers of doom.
Role model of freedom – Having just gained our nation’s freedom by standing up to the overwhelming power of the US, the EU, the ruling elite, big business etc. we would naturally be an inspiring example throughout the world. We could be the torchbearer of freedom, (including individuality, freedom from fear, freedom to disagree and freedom to live your life as you choose in a free country), Democracy (government, of, for and by the People), Justice (or fairness) and the Rule of Law. We could show by the example of our long march of progress built on continuing courageous struggle and evolution over centuries.
We have the ability to recognise real freedom, democracy, justice and the rule of law, and distinguish it from fakes not securely grounded in anything comparable to our heritage. However, it is a long march that is still continuing and eternal vigilance is necessary to prevent descent into intolerance, tyranny, oligarchy or corporatism (rule of the privileged few for the privileged few).
President Obama, Hillary Clinton and various American dignitaries continue to show that American hegemony and its ‘deep state’, is a defender and promoter of corporate interests at the expense of freedom and democracy, and ‘the little guy’, be they consumers, taxpayers or future generations. Even old and close allies can be bullied or pressurised, and covertly manipulated and undermined. A far nobler voice of western freedom is needed – us.
Paradigm of ‘Small is Beautiful’ – Large size can be a distinct handicap to progress, communications, efficiency, humanity and seeing the world as it is especially through the eyes of experience. Bigness often leads to bureaucracy, remoteness and a sense of unreality in management, and to stagnation (defending or abusing the status quo) and decline. The EU and its agencies is such a top down, centralised, political and operational dinosaur. The future is in speed, empowerment and initiative, collaboration and individual motivation.
We could demonstrate that our version of smaller size works with greater personal individuality, humanity, enterprise, efficiency, economy, speed, invention, personal satisfaction and democracy. Also that it leads to closer working relationships between the government and governed, or customer and supplier.
And with a free and vibrant economy with many successful small and medium size enterprises that see the world as their oyster, the small and weak elsewhere could gain much needed examples or role models to follow (or benchmark), to act as mentors and to be a source of inspiration.
Fearless Voice of the ‘Little Guy’ – Clearly many countries are not large, rich or powerful, and need someone, to speak truth to American, Chinese or EU etc. power and help the ‘little guys’ get fair treatment and the most from their limited resources. To quote Rudyard Kipling they need someone who ‘Can walk with kings nor lose the common touch’.
Being the most recent entrant to the realms of a free nation would give us a different perspective and empathy, not least that ability to get results with limited resources. We also have a traditional respect for justice and fairness, and the courage to face down bullies. We would be ideally placed to understand, and help and subtle enough to know when to withdraw, rather than trying to dominate or convert everyone into a ‘one size fits all’ view.
Leadership for the smaller and weaker countries could really be an extension of the Commonwealth for the benefit of all, and like the Cooperative Movement there is strength to be had by such an association. Only a free nation prepared to fight for its way of life and people is respected by all.
Custodian of Englishness – The English language and more broadly the Anglo-Saxon heritage are increasingly important to the success of wide ranging fields from the arts to zoology across the world. They provide a great reserve of knowledge and precedence that can be used to advantage. Having two great resources to tap into both from the old world and the new is much better than the sum because there are two not quite identical interpretations. And perhaps ours can be the more subtle, nuanced, reflective and analytical – what might otherwise be called ‘educated’.
Celebration of Individuality – we are all individuals not ‘nails to be hammered down’. And there is something deeply inspiring about those heroic individual efforts whether pushing out the boundaries of knowledge, science, engineering, art, literature, social justice, the rule of law or democracy etc. Removing the EU’s hammer of dull conformity would let us shine again and be inspired by the achievements of earlier generations. Where ruling elites and bureaucracies suppress individuality, we can show its world leading nature from art to zoology. And there is a traditional British Way we can reconnect with, protective of the best our heritage, humanity, intent on handing it on in better shape, highly skilled, professional, trustworthy, imaginative and bold.
Leaving the failing, sclerotic control-freak EU is about tomorrow; in the belief that it can be better than today; that we have a responsibility to make it so; that we can whatever the (apparent) risks and challenges. True leadership rises above those challenges, manages them, is not browbeaten by fear or setbacks and, helps ordinary people do extraordinary things. An exciting future awaits us.