Britain is GREAT

Transcript of the speech by the UK High Commissioner Sir James Bevan at a reception for UK business Monday, 9 December 2013 in New Delhi.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Sir James David Bevan KCMG

I want to explain the GREAT campaign which we are celebrating tonight and which you see around you. The message is simple: Britain is GREAT. We are proud of our past and confident of our future. We want to celebrate the things that make the United Kingdom great. There are many of them.

Our heritage: Stonehenge, our Royal Palaces, Shakespeare’s Globe theatre, to name but three icons of that heritage.

Our culture: you know about our great classical art and literature, but our popular culture is pretty impressive too. In pop music, UK artists account for over 10% of the world’s sales. In film, James Bond and Harry Potter captivate the world. The world’s biggest selling videogame, Grand Theft Auto 5, which I have been known to play myself when in need of some violent therapy, is the product of a British company.

Our countryside is GREAT: 15% of all the territory of England is designated as an area of outstanding natural beauty. The Highlands of Scotland and Wordsworth’s Lake District need no introduction to Indians.

Our sport is GREAT: the English Premier League is the best and most watched football league in the world. Scotland is the home of a game beloved of many Indians, golf (and also, of course, the home of a drink beloved of even more Indians). You will note that I do not mention cricket. That is because, as Ashis Nandy the writer so wisely said, cricket is an Indian game accidentally invented by the British.

UK innovation is GREAT: Things invented by the Brits include television, the pencil, the telephone, SMS messaging, the light bulb, railways, the steam engine, hovercraft, penicillin, gravity, the jet engine, radar, longitude, vertical take-off aircraft, evolution, bungee jumping and the internet. Not to mention the British invention which has perhaps contributed more than any other to world happiness – sticky toffee pudding.

Business: the UK is one of the most business friendly places in the world – which is why, I am delighted to say, Indians invest more in the UK than in the whole of the rest of the EU put together. It takes only 13 days to set up a business in the UK. We already have the lowest corporation tax in the G8: by 2015 it will be the lowest in the G20. We attract more FDI than any other country except the US. If you want to be global, the UK is the place to be.

We are proud of our entrepreneurs: people like Sir Richard Branson of Virgin, Sir Paul Smith the fashion designer, and James Dyson the inventor of revolutionary household appliances like the Dyson vacuum cleaner. Indeed the Dyson is such a stylish piece of engineering that in Britain it has produced a miracle which no-one thought possible - getting men to do the household cleaning. We are proud of our designers: if you have an iPad or iPhone, it was designed by a Brit, Jonathan Ive.

Our technology is GREAT. India recently hosted the Formula 1 Grand Prix: the cutting edge technology in every F1 car which we watched speeding round the track at Noida is almost all British. Your mobile phone almost certainly contains a chip designed by a UK company called ARM based in Cambridge. I know that because 95% of the world’s mobile phones do.

And we are proud of our knowledge: Britain is home to first rank universities, including four of the world’s top ten. Oxford has educated more world leaders than any other university, and Cambridge graduates have won 65 Nobel Prizes. The UK overall has won some 120 Nobel Prizes.

That’s why, ladies and gentlemen, we are proud to say that Britain is GREAT. We in Britain are also clear that India is GREAT too. Having now visited every one of the 28 states of your beautiful country, I can confirm that. But while both our countries are GREAT, together we are greater still. That’s why the British government aims to build a stronger, wider, deeper partnership between India and the UK.

Published 10 December 2013