The decline of Britishness directly goes hand-in-hand with its transformation into an ideology, complete with a set of values attached. Military empires are often followed by spiritual empires after the initial political entity collapses. The Assyrians, for example, still projected huge influence through what westerners called the ‘Nestorian Church’, spreading the faith (and Assyrian culture) as far as China.
The fall of Rome was followed by the rise of Roman Catholicism, which preserved and projected Italian culture among what Petrarch called ‘the uncouth races’ (that’s us). Likewise the British Empire died but its ghost echoes in the cult of Britishness, a sort of multicultural vision of the world in which London is the new Vatican and ‘British values’ are projected through Foreign Office schemes to combat homophobia in the former empire (homophobia which we enshrined into their legal systems). The 2012 Olympic opening ceremony was the epitome of ‘British values’. Likewise the NHS, which is the British Empire in miniature (although not that miniature, in terms of numbers), is another; it even attracts a cult-like devotion among supporters who can only see healthcare in Manichean terms, the British v American models. ‘British values’ increasingly refers to a set of left-liberal tenets, not all of which many of us agree with.