So Gordon Brown has ruled out 'Blair Force One'.
Some might have thought the idea to be a bit tacky, more symbolic than necessary. And maybe they are right. And copying anything George W Bush has is never going to endear you to most of the country. Also, therightstudent offers another good reason for Brown to 'dump' the idea. GB really is taking the 'Not Flash - Just Gordon' mantra to heart. (Gordon, just so you know, we'the people will never see you as 'just the same as us')
But to me, it's just another sign of Britain's self-conscious psyche that tells us 'you're not allowed to be too good in Britain - and if you are, certainly don't mention it to anyone'. The UK is a major player on the world's stage, whether it be militarily, economically, whatever - we are a big deal and one of the big, influential powers.
So why shouldn't we have a big winged statement that, when our head of Government or head of state arrives somewhere, announces that 'we have arrived' and the fact that we are in your country, is a big deal.
Why are we so ashamed of being a big, powerful country (something which means, as a country, we have done well)? Why are we so against celebrating doing well.
In the UK, many people are in favour of taxing the rich between 50-60% on their income, but are not against paying unemployment benefit to lazy neds and drug users who quite simply don't want to work (I'm not including genuine job-seekers or those who genuinely cannot work). If a good-role-model-celebrity becomes ultra famous, the first reaction of the media is to find out all the dirt they can on them, tenuous or not, and set out to topple them, splashing such stories (often unfounded) all over their front pages. And it is these editions with these stories that the British public flock to the shops to read, taking an inner joy that someone good has been shot down.
This is part of British culture.
If someone does well for themselves, we don't celebrate it, we don't focus on their achievements, we just want to drag them back down. Why? Why are we so scared of celebrating our successes?
Richard Branson - admittedly a bit naff - but he is undoubtedly a self-made success story, yet he is one of the most disliked people I can think of. He is well-intentioned generally, hasn't done anything massively scandalously wrong, tries his best, usually reaching his goal, yet he receives an automatic negativity at the mention of his name (e.g Northern Rock).
I just think we should celebrate that we are a damn successful country with a lot of inspirational people and moments in history, yet all we focus on and look for is the opposite. And a big statement like 'that plane' wouldn't be that big a waste of money. It would create a sense of grandeur befitting our nation that we appear so terrified to embrace.