A report measuring economic, diplomatic and cultural clout has named the United Kingdom as the worlds top soft power.
The UK was followed by France, Germany, the United States and Japan. Canada, Switzerland, Sweden, Netherlands and Australia rounded out the top 10.
The UK’s first-place finish was a “surprise” given how the negotiations for Brexit has had “little tangible progress”, the report wrote. As such, there are “huge question marks” over the UK’s future relationship with the European Union, its long-term global influence and its role in the world.
“Moreover, should the exit be a chaotic one, it is hard to see global public opinion on the UK remaining buoyant,” it added.
“The UK edges out France – only just – to take the top spot in this year’s Soft Power 30 index. The UK’s return to first place will no doubt come as a surprise to many analysts, commentators, and diplomats.
The past year has seen Brexit negotiations dominate headlines and consume virtually all of the government’s bandwidth with
little tangible progress made. As a result, there are huge question marks over the UK’s future relationship with the EU, its long-term global influence, and its role in the world. However, as of July 2018, the UK remains a member of the European Union, and thus nothing has changed in the objective data with respect to the
UK’s position in Europe.
For the UK, this year’s results are an encouraging sign that the nation still commands significant soft power clout. The UK’s soft power strengths continue to sit across the Engagement, Culture,
Education, and Digital sub-indices.”
Regarding the UK position, the report concludes:
“Where the UK goes from here is anyone’s guess. It is not clear if HM Government has a compelling vision for what Britain
will look like in five years’ time. Much remains to be done if the calls for “Global Britain” are to amount to anything more than a slogan.
Intent must be matched with sufficient funding and resources, lest it become an empty branding exercise.
The UK can only rely on the success of the GREAT campaign for so long. As we approach March 2019, all of the as-yet-tobe-
answered questions on the UK’s future relationship with Europe and its role in the world will have to be addressed.”
Meanwhile, the US slipped one spot to be ranked fourth, due to “detrimental effects” of the Trump administration’s protectionist and nationalist approach to foreign policy, the report said.
“Last year, a very sharp decline in global perceptions of the US was reported in the polling data whereas this year objective metrics have also registered the erosion of American soft power,” the media release wrote, citing an “obvious fall” in the government category from twelfth to the sixteenth position.
The ‘Soft Power 30’ index, first launched in 2015, measures a country’s soft power via objective data on six categories, such as government and culture, and international polling on seven other indicators.
It was produced by communications consultancy Portland in partnership with the University of Southern California Center on Public Diplomacy. A copy of the report can be found here.