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Britain should refuse to take her former colonies back

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/1/2010 Category: Miscellaneous
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 5,224 times Debate No: 13525
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The British Empire was the largest empire that ever existed covering, at its peak, around a third of the globe [1].

For hundreds of years, the British Government invested heavily in backward nations on every continent: building modern cities with electricity, sanitation, schools and hospitals and constructing roads and railways to link them - thus vastly improving the day-to-day lives of the local savages.

However, once this infrastructure was in place, the ungrateful natives of certain colonies threw their British benefactors' generosity back in their faces and declared independence.

In fairness, some of them made a decent fist of things. For example, by adopting the legal system, language and the culture of enterprise and innovation that their former British masters kindly bequeathed them, the United States of America went on to do quite well.

Other former colonies didn't fare so well though. For instance, under British rule, Zimbabwe was known as ‘the breadbasket of Africa', but since independence it has become ‘the basket case of Africa'.

And some other former colonies, such as Ireland, have had mixed success. Like the Americans, the Irish adopted much that the British donated them, including the English language and legal system, but they failed to emulate the Americans by exploiting the full potential of these munificent gifts.

Realising this, senior Irish politicians such as Fine Gael TD Michael Ring are now ready to beg the Queen to take Ireland back into the British fold and last week, speaking in the Irish Parliament, Mr Ring said:

"Now look at the mess we're in and look at the mess this country is in. Next year the Queen is talking about coming to Ireland for a state visit. Maybe we should say to the Queen when she comes 'you know, we have our own independence now, we'll hand you back the country and we'll apologise for the mess that we're after making of it.' Because at least when they were running the country they didn't put it into the mess and the hock that we are in now." [2]

But Mr. Ring should not simply assume that the British would take them back.

The British gave the Irish and other primitive peoples around the world the chance to better themselves but they blew it by insisting on running their countries themselves.

With this in mind, if former British colonies such as Zimbabwe, the United States of America or Ireland were to make formal requests to rejoin the British Empire. I duly affirm that Her Majesty should politely refuse by saying: "One is frightfully sorry, but you have made your bed and now you have to lie in it."

Thank you.



Greetings, Brian! This debate should be most enjoyable! : ) Good luck, have fun.

I do not deem it necessary to discuss the contention, as is is very clear, "What are the benefits or the negative elements of re-accepting rogue colonies under the matronly wing of Great Britain? In essence, should they, or should they not?"

Right, as con, I contend that Great Britain should reassert authority over all beleaguered colonies who admit that they have not since benefited from independence, and thence wish to be welcomed back into the proverbial Imperial "family".

Pro makes the contention that Great Britain expended invaluable time, energy, capital, natural resources and human resources into its colonies in order to aid them in prospering. The Governing body has even sacrificed the lives of million of English soldiers in order to protect its colonies throughout various wars. And then the ungrateful colonies rebel or resist - sometimes violently, as in the cases of the American Revolution, Indian Mutinies, Boer Wars, Sudanese conflicts and Mau Mau Rebellion, IRA terrorism etc. My opponent wonders, "Why go through this, again?"

Perhaps more sensible nations will be stabilized and contented with Great Britain's resumed colonization of them.

I will raise some crucial points about why Great Britain should restore its errant colonies.

1. Great Britain will flourish with the natural resources available from its colonies. Great Britain is currently encouraging Global Trade among Commonwealth members - these trade policies would become a lot simpler if conciliatory nations simply became an extension of Great Britain, once again.

2. Great Britain would benefit from the added militaristic and economical power. Right now, one must admit that Great Britain's former might is slowly dwindling. Great Britain no longer has even the sixth largest army in the world, and it's reduced itself to treatises with France about the funding of powerful naval vessels. Great Britain is crucial to the Commonwealth and many alliances, but it could be ever stronger if it had the added might of restored colonies. Imagine the sudden influx of soldiers, capital and equipment - the United Kingdom could rival China in strength and once again assert itself Internationally without the aid of NATO or the UN! Or, even worse, being called a "Puppet" to the former pitiful arrangement of colonies that could not have thrived without Great Britain's careful attentiveness - the United States of America.

3. As my opponent kindly conceded, the nations themselves would thrive from stable Governance, improved infrastructure, medical systems and sanitary systems. As my opponent stated, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Ireland, Zimbabwe, Uganda, India etc. would perhaps not be such destitute nations if they had only accepted themselves as subjects of the United Kingdom. Indian citizens still remained impoverished, and many have limited access to sanitation systems or medical care - which would have long been remedied if the United Kingdom had retained authority. Instability is the cause of many deaths and diseases such as HIV/AIDS. Colonies wouldn't have suffered from maniacal despots such as Idi Amin, Juvenal Habyarimana or Siaka Stevens. But they did, and many have yet to rejuvenate themselves into prosperous nations. Great Britain could capably aid in that progress, and the two would mutually benefit eachother, if the country only wishes to submit itself as a colony. As an example, when Sierra Leone suffered from an intense Civil War, the United Nations deployed 6,000 soldiers to stabilize the situation. They not only failed, but were driven backward by the RUF. Less than a year later, the English deployed a little over 200 soldiers and ended the war with a string of efficient victories.

4. I will expound later, but Great Britain should also consolidate its position as head of the Commonwealth and assert that all nations mutually act to national defense and the economical benefit of eachother. It should also create stability in those Commonwealth nations that are plagued by war, famine, disease etc.

5. To refuse would be to allow other powerful nations to potentially influence former colonial nations; this simply can't be done.

Right, since my opponent has the burden of proof, I will cede the floor. Thanks for perusing this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to express my thanks to 1stLordoftheVenerability for accepting this debate and for posting such seemingly convincing arguments, to which I should like to respond as follows:

1 – Natural Resources

In days gone by, the overseas representative of a British mineral extraction company would take a sack of shiny, colourful, mass-produced baubles and trinkets and approach the chief of a tribe of savages and say:

"Now look here, Sambo*, all this precious treasure can be yours if you just let us dig some big holes in your territory and allow us take any rocks or filthy, stinking black water we may find in them home with us."

And the chief might suspiciously ask:

"What could you possibly want with rocks and dirty water?"

And the British representative would reply:

"Well, the streets of England are paved with gold and they get very slippery when it rains so we crush the rocks and spread them on the roads to stop people from slipping and sliding around, and we want the sludgy water to rub into our white skin to make us look nice and tanned just like you lucky swarthy types."

And the chief would think ‘this white man must be crazy – huge quantities sparkling jewellery and colourful ornaments just in exchange for a few rocks and some putrid water! Yes, he must be mad but still…' and so the deal was struck.

Sadly, negotiations are not so straightforward these days: many tribal leaders have access to radios and televisions and even the Internet and they are consequently aware of the value of crude oil and gemstone- and precious metal-bearing ores, and they have the cheek to ask the market price for any such natural resources that they may have in their possession, which makes the whole operation a lot less profitable.

2 – Military and Economic Clout

Once again, times have changed. In days gone by, a British recruitment sergeant would offer to supply a native with a smart uniform complete with a bright red tunic, shiny brass buttons and an impressive-looking helmet; equip him with a powerful and noisy firearm and feed him three square meals a day – plus pay him enough money to purchase Western consumer items such as matches, needles and even footballs for their kiddies. In those days the natives grasped the opportunity with both hands – being a British soldier was certainly better than spending every day foraging for berries and grubs in the bush.

These days, however, most boys in the developing world get a football and an AK-47 for the 10th birthday and the only thing red they want to wear is a Manchester United home shirt.

Furthermore, the economic benefits of imperialism seem behind Britain now. For example, in the 19th Century, Britain decided to raise cash by trafficking hard drugs into China. The drug in question was opium, the predecessor of heroin, and like most heroin today, it was produced from poppies grown in Afghanistan.

Now, neighbouring Pakistan and India were already part of the Empire so the British used them as a platform to invade and occupy Afghanistan and thus secure their supply of drugs.

These narcotics were then transported across the Indian sub-continent to be shipped to Hong Kong, which, at the time, was a small Chinese fishing village that the British had seized and developed into a port and operations hub for the distribution of opium accross China.

Despite the objections of the Chinese government and two ensuing Anglo-Chinese ‘Opium Wars', the British made vast sums of money from trafficking drugs, but would it be possible to embark on a similar operation today?

These days Britain no longer exports recreational drugs, rather it imports them on a wholesale basis through the black market, and although British troops are back in Afghanistan once again, this time they are not there to facilitate the supply of drugs but rather to disrupt it.

I suppose Britain could amend the terms of the military deployment in the region but, unfortunately, Britain's North American and European allies in Afghanistan are likely to take a dim view of British troops loading Army Chinooks with bales of heroin resin to be airlifted to Kabul Airport for onward shipping to an international network of ruthless drug dealers.

3 - Good Governance

My opponent correctly points out that British rule would bring stability and order to countries in political or economic disarray. Unfortunately, a sizeable minority of the citizens of these countries do not know what is best for them and often resist what they see as an occupation by a foreign power.

For example, British forces have recently been deployed in Iraq, which used to be a British Mandate and the ensuing insurgency there caused more than "minor local difficulties" and it cost the British taxpayer hundreds of millions of pounds to subdue the uprising.

Similarly, if the Government of the United States were to see the error of its ways and beg the Queen to reassume her rightful role as the American Head of State, I think it is reasonable to expect some opposition from the less enlightened citizens there – and because they have the "right" to carry guns, resistance to British rule could be fierce and bloody.

4,5 – Global Influence

My opponent makes a very good point by stating that the British Commonwealth is of great benefit to member nations providing, as it does, a framework for the exchange of cultural ideas, technology, political best practice and also platform for multi-national trade agreements.

I also agree that without the Commonwealth member nations could be susceptible to the unhealthy and undemocratic influences of rogue nations, so I concede these two points.

However, overall, I still maintain that Britain should not accept responsibility for running failed former colonies.

Thank you.

* This was in the days before there was any concept of ‘political correctness'!


I thoroughly enjoyed reading your post, Brian - quite entertaining

I think that it is necessary to point out that Great Britain need only take back those colonies that request re-entry into the maternal bond of Imperialism. Thence, they do not have to resume control over those deluded nations whom resist beneficial colonization. Since assuming control over independent nations whom resist sensible rule really isn't an option, there's no need to "Refuse," and therefore this point remains within the description of the resolution.

The only negative factor to resuming political power over a nation that comprehends its erroneous ways is that Great Britain would also become responsible for its debt, political instability and economical strife. These dilemmas do require vast quantities of revenue to rectify, but, over the long term, the colony will increase its GDP and benefit itself and Great Britain substantially more than it drained.

My opponent is correct - traders can no longer offer baubles, trinkets, diluted rum etc. for oil, gold, gems, slaves etc. However, the resources can be tapped efficiently by both the nation and Great Britain, and they can benefit both nations to a greater extent than International trade with an undeveloped society. The Diamond mines of Sierra Leone were long wasted - the immense wealth bickered over by Rebels and Government, neither of whom could afford or be bothered to reap the invaluable harvest to any great extent. If Great Britain colonized the nation, both Imperial head and colony could permit companies to mine - reaping in millions of dollars in formerly dysfunctional revenue. International trade with a lackluster nation can't possibly benefit either party, but direct investment and dominion from Great Britain would allow each to mutually benefit eachother. I will utilize Zimbabwe, again. "The Marange diamond fields, found in 2006 are considered the biggest diamond find in over a century. They have the potential to improve the fiscal situation of the country considerably, however almost all revenues from the field have disappeared in to the pockets of army officers and ZANU-PF politicians " [1] Zimbabwe is impoverished - thousands of civilians scraping yams out of abandoned fields just so that they can avoid starvation. Many receive no food at all. [2] Tobacco, Maize and forestry are all lucrative industries that have declined due to inept leadership and lack of stability. The Infant Mortality Rate has increased to 85 per 1,000 born. Adult Expectancy is only 33 (for females) to 34 (for males). Zimbabwe is suffering from hyperinflation, also. If the United Kingdom moved in and established leadership, people would be free from terror, have access to medical care and generally prosper. The neglected resources could be rejuvenated and Zimbabwe could make an astounding recovery - leading uncooperative African nations in wealth and prosperity while also luxuriating under the wonderful governance of Great Britain.

My opponent does have a point regarding militaristic difference. No longer can a recruitment Sergeant employ a native or impress him/her into service. However, each nation recognizes the need for a military. The standing army would not be "Independent," any longer, but would rather be abolished as it stands and integrated into the Army of the United Kingdom. Hence, the United Kingdom's power could flourish in this manner, expanding with the numbers and equipment ceded by each nation's former army (before it sees fit to upgrade derelict or antiquated equipment - can't really go wrong with employing the AK-47, though). Also, it wouldn't need to utilize invaluable English troops to guard colonial possession as in the past - the colonials themselves would be more than capable. Also, stability would reduce rebellion and militancy - along with the need for child soldiers.

As a brief exemplar, the British Army has roughly 113,970 Regular soldiers and 33,130 territorial soldiers. Add on to them Australia's: 27,828 plus roughly 19,000 in reserves, South Africa's: 30,500, augmented by 11,000 reserves; Ireland's Army: 8,500, augmented by reserves; Zimbabwe: 29,000; India: 1,325,000 with over 2 million in reserves; Canada: 67,756 plus slightly over 42,000 in reserves; Rwanda: 28,000 plus?

Imagine, then, the immense might of the United Kingdom Imperial Army?

My opponent creates a nice straw man with a referral to the Opium trade. Great Britain no longer depends upon Opium, but as I have discussed, there are many legal alternatives for economical success. Statistics actually depict that, other than developing nations, the primary (benefit from extraction of natural resources) and secondary (manufacturing) sectors of the economy have actually declined.

I don't believe it is necessary to continue, as I have concisely demonstrated that it would be a folly for the United Kingdom to decline its former colonies who have decided to amend their formerly erroneous ways. To allow these nations to wallow in poverty when one is capable of establishing colonial dominion and administration would almost be equivalent to an unethical decision. I also believe that the Queen is more of a kind hearted soul than Brian asserts in round 1.

Thanks for a very enjoyable debate!




Debate Round No. 2
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by blackhawk1331 7 years ago
First of all, 1stlord keeps referring to "erroneous ways". I'm going to assume they are referring to countries ther than the US and Canada since they also mentioned impoverished nations, and therefore I'll dismiss their comment. I would like to point out, however, that they source they site continuously is wikepedia.
Next, Brian refers dire fly to the United States and it's "errr in rebellion". How much of an error can it be since we are only competing with Russia to be the strongest nation on the planet. As it is, we are one of two super powers(Russia being the other).
I would really like an explanation as to why it was a mistake for the US to break off from England.
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 7 years ago
The debate it primarily about those who wish return. I'd assume that you haven't read any of my brilliant assertions.
Posted by Ste93 7 years ago
The countries that were in the British Empire claimed independance. Why should Britian hold any responsibility over them? They didn't want to be part of her anymore, they are independent and so cannot expect Britain to take any responsibility for them. They put it in their pipes, now they can smoke it.
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 7 years ago
It is not that International Trade is discounted, but rather that it is entirely different. In trade, each side attempts to gain the better of each nation in order to ensure the balance is positive. In colonization, each nation mutually benefits eachother without attempting to gain the advantage (there aren't any barriers).

I can't wait to see what you conjure, Brian. I'm sure it shall be good.

Indeed, well put, Zetsubou.
Posted by wjmelements 7 years ago
"Great Britain will flourish with the natural resources available from its colonies."

Why is it generally presumed that international trade doesn't exist?
Posted by brian_eggleston 7 years ago
1stLord posted some very impressive arguments there so I need some time to think up some (hopefully) worthy responses...which I will do before the deadline...
Posted by Zetsubou 7 years ago
Me and Robert have solved our differences.
Posted by Zetsubou 7 years ago
This looks promising.
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 7 years ago
Branding and removing teeth for ethnic identification is an amusing, if incorrect, notion. I think one will notice that nearly every tribe contained its own tatoos, cuts, burns or symbolic patterns. The European nations surely didn't need to add to this identification system. In fact, the English weren't concerned to that extent about identification of tribes - so long as the tribes abided by English law and respected English people if they resided in English towns.

Whether or not slavery was practiced in Feudal societies does not mean that it is a "civilized" practice. One might note that Great Britain had outlawed slavery and the trade of slaves by 1833. Many Africans practiced slavery until even after the 1900s. In fact, even yet, select African nations have not abolished discreet methods of slavery.

I think, also, that one will find that a variety of mission boards sent more than "Anglican" missionaries about. Catholicism is strongly adhered to in Western Africa, and various forms of Protestantism elsewhere. Even yet, witch doctors do exist - or have revived.

I disagree. Great Britain colonized for personal gain, rather than what you assert "nothing out of their own interest." I would like to take that stance, but it is a fact that England benefited from its colonization. Nevertheless, England indubitably benefited the locals wherever they colonized, as well (until the point of rebellion).

As I may point out, Canada and the United States benefited from colonization. As did South Africa, which is one of the sole African nations capable of heavy manufacturing (such as aircraft).
Posted by 1stLordofTheVenerability 7 years ago
Hmm, this is kind of rich. Somebody not only dares to tell me that I'm historically inept but then expresses his own biased and limited knowledge. Quaint. Obviously you are not aware, Zetsubou, that I am an expert in English historical knowledge and also possess many years of dedicated study beyond your own (probably not ranging far beyond the textbook?).

To correct you on a few simple matters: Cannibalism still exists in the Congo Basin. Almost all tribes have been cannibalistic since recorded accounts of English missionaries and soldiers exploring the forest in the 1900s. It was a simple matter - if one took captives and values them no longer as slaves, why not consume them? A tribe would rarely consume another from his own, and they would often not eat the head or even very much of the body. Sometimes, they would merely cut a chunk from a living victim. An extremely barbaric custom. I bet you weren't aware that it even existed in various North American tribes - research it. The Aros tribe through the Niger Delta - a very powerful and fearful tribe, was cannibalistic. Hundreds of tribes were, though perhaps they weren't as large.

That is correct. Many tribes, such as the Ekengi and Okoyong, believed that if twins were born to a woman, she had committed a creat sin and the spirits were angered with her (due to the exhortations of the witch doctors). Thence, they would leave a twin out in the jungle, or bang 'em on the head with something hard - the mother consented willingly, many times.

Yes, a semblance of civilization. One will note that they possessed no factories, no real industry beyond trade and piracy. One can never say that the Berbers had advanced to the age of steel, much less entered a semblance of the Industrial Revolution. However, France, England, Netherlands, Germany etc. all colonized and aided in progress.

"Us"? You're African, are you?
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