GREAT BRITAIN?

I read about David Cameron and ideas for a BIG SOCIETY, FAMILY  VALUES and today a drive to create, what appears to me, to be a less ghettoised society. This being with regard to ethnic groups. Two things come to mind: (1) SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE and more importantly (2) BRAND BRITAIN.

1) SPEAKING THE LANGUAGE

I am prompted to remember going to register my son’s birth in Brighton at the Town Hall and seeing a plethora of different languages on the door that were acceptable. The face of a government of the time that prided itself on inclusion. How much does this cost I wondered?

We have friends that are moving to France. They have a place there. They are learning French. They say they are not great at it but the locals help them and appreciate them trying. If we moved to France I would expect to learn the language. Another friend is a Doctor from Poland and is having difficulty learning English but he needs it to work here. So he is getting help from another friend who is giving him time.

I believe that if you know where you want to get to there is always a way. Learning a language for some is easy, I was just in Switzerland and my cousin’s nearly three year old sat and listened to stories in English and German the day I arrived at creche. “That’s proved it,” said her father. “She definitely understands German better than we do.”

I think it is right to try your best to learn the language of the country you are in. I think the locals appreciate it. Some may mock of course but they are ignorant, or not meaning harm. We could save an absolute fortune on enabling people who do not speak English to communicate. Now, I hear you bristle. What about the lady in distress? What about the abused? What about the emergency when people can’t communicate? Well yes… Being able to communicate the basics is vitally important and a system that helps people learn this should be available and in place. Thereafter a target for everyone who lives here to speak our language should be set – and everyone sorts out a way to do it! The American way.

To my mind we always seem to cater for minorities at the expense of the majority in this nation. And, whilst this is laudable and we speak of inclusivity, the majority (many of whom are silent and go about their business without clamour or complaint) need to be represented and looked after at least as much if not more than the minority. Why? Shock horror at my assertion! Simple – because there are more of them! Now there’s a premise for a thesis. Otherwise, in time, the majority will rebel – or rebel by leaving, or not voting. The quiet death of a society where people are only involved in ‘the world of me.’ They do not care about society around them – we become a ‘Me Society.’ Not caring about you… Not a society at all…

The issue then is one of balance. How to support people in great need and how the rest of us need to be inspired to get out and create value that people appreciate and earns us a living.

2) BRAND BRITAIN

Years ago I worked for an organisation of 1,000 staff in a Christian Charity.  My title was initially Communications Director and I boosted it to Marketing and Communications Director. The title lift was because I was doing a Masters in Marketing and partly because I thought it was more apt and sounded more important!

Part of my responsibility and role was to remake the image of this organisation – or so I thought. I went in and nuked the loved and traditional logo because I was young, naive and unstoppable. This old brand had been loved by many and linked back directly to the founding of the organisation in 1844. This root was very important and symbolised by The Shaftesbury Memorial in London as the organisation in question was The Shaftesbury Society. I lost many supporters who loved this organisation in the process. This “Firebrand Creative on a mission”changed things – a brand new modern obtuse art image – and many quietly left, not recognised nor missed by the ‘new blood.’

I realised I had not consulted on the change and told the board – three years later – “We had to change the brand again!” It was a sack or let me do it moment… ‘OK, but it must last for ten years.’ they agreed. This time I went around the country and asked representatives across all parts of this organisation what the work was about ‘FOR THEM?’ What logo, strapline might sum this up? As I think back I know what would have worked – a reworking of that original Shaftesbury Memorial Statue in a slightly more modern guise – anyway… There’s hindsight talking. Perhaps I have slightly more wisdom now?

Anyway – people laid into me. They shared their despair and anger at changes, not related to logos or image at all. Their frustrations with management, systems, government intervention. Their hopes and fears. Their opinions – everything was confidential and I became the whipping boy for processing grief people felt. It was a stark and torrid time of interviews across the organisation I undertook alone and unsupported. Now I know I should have been supported and probably had counselling at the end of it! People opened up, trusted me to be confidential and let go of all that was hurting… What a privilege to be trusted. What a burden to carry. What a wonder to hear, through it all hope and their raison d’etre of being there and doing what they did.

Part of my reason for doing this survey was that I was doing my Masters in Marketing and I did a paper on ‘The Power of the Flag.’ Which got a distinction and great praise from my Professor. “A sorbet of an assignment, light on the palate yet succulent to the taste.” He wrote as I compressed into 1,500 words my belief in the flag being key to an organisation’s being and future.

You see what I discovered was that the flag, the brand, the image that leads us forward, that we follow, enables us to put up with so much rubbish in delivering our service. Because, we put our faith in the flag. We follow some kind of overall belief set about what it means to us.

Stick with me… Now our Labour Government at one point had a Think Tank discovering what we were about, asking people to contribute. I imagine, but do not know for sure, that this would be full of bright young marketing and PRs changing the logo as a firebrand Slater once did. ‘That old stuff is rubbish let’s make it new.’ My story, my experience kicking in here.

But… and here is the nub of the issue. What is our flag? What do we stand for? Who are we – as a Nation? What is our and what is my identity?

Mr Cameron – if you can hear me –  here is the essence of what you can do to change our Nation. Give us back Great Britain. Nuke UK – United Kingdom. Erase it – change everything to Great Britain – bring back GB.

Why? The Emirates love it being a Kingdom, I imagine a certain former Prime Minister loved being the President of a Country that appeared next to US on a country internet sign up. But…

One flag, one brand, one over arching ethos is crucial. If we are to put up with the rubbish, the dissappointments and the buffetting of life that occurs and – when the chips are down – stand together we need to know what we stand for and where we belong. How can we expect our young people to respect and build society if there is no over arching ideal we aspire and sign up to? How can they create a great Nation if that Nation does not know who or what it is or stands for? Answer – they cannot. How can one million people walk on the streets and the politicians not hear – another issue perhaps but the silent majority watch, and leave these shores. The young, held down, acquiese under security cameras and communities bunker down together.

I cannot be a UKen I can be a UK Citizen but then I am a British Citizen – I am British. Only we could have invented a duality of brand. It is this duality that is confusing and dangerous. We are also not United as a Kingdom when we seek devolution and different parliaments and assemblies. Another issue.

Yet within all this miscommunication of BRAND BRITAIN there is life and hope. A brilliant culture of different backgrounds with people everyday showing little kindnesses, people helping others (even though they may not have those Criminal Record checks in place) and laughter, fun, decency and honesty. People doing well, doing badly and caring.

But, Mr Cameron just imagine, if the flag was raised up. If we aimed to make Britain Great again. What would that look like? Decent values, decent economy, hard working, caring, strong, creative, entrepreneurial. Rights yes – but RESPONSIBILITY with them. Responsibility for ourselves and others. What would our over-arching ethos and guide points be?

Enough… for now.

I have stood and seen the Union Jack go up as I topped the Junior World of Ice skating. I have represented Great Britain in two Olympics and seen that same flag raised and heard the National Anthem. I have just watched skaters win at a championship and sing their national anthem with tears in their eyes.

I have a bias towards our flag… I love GREAT BRITAIN and I love ENGLAND as an Englishman and yet I think of leaving these shores… one of the silent majority perhaps?

Love

N

3 responses to “GREAT BRITAIN?”

  • Nicola says
    • Nicky Slater says
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