Politics and That Opening Ceremony

So that’s the Olympics up and running and the biggest show on earth is underway. Already it seems like the whole nation is gripped on the prospects for team GB and enjoying the spectacle of the world’s greatest athletes participating in the greatest sporting event in the world.
And what a treat Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony was. In an emotionally charged, frenetic spectacle he seemed to sum up a cultural history of Britain that all of us were seamlessly able to relate to. In his vision of this new Jerusalem he took us on a cultural tour de force that united Brunel with the Arctic Monkeys. It was as audacious as it was breathtaking.
Almost predictably though some politicians couldn’t resist trying to politicise the event and use it to make their own observations about modern Britain. First up was a little known Tory MP, Aidan Burley, who took it as an opportunity to lament what he saw as the excesses of multicultural Britain. In a series of ill-considered tweets he found himself totally outside the mainstream popular response, bemoaning the show as a left wing, multicultural conspiracy.
Predictably, he was followed by Scotland’s unionist politicians who seemed bizarrely to suggest that this show undermined the case for Scottish independence. Unable to make any cogent case for the retention of the UK themselves they hijacked this show for their own narrow political ends. What they of course failed to appreciate is that what we saw was the social union in action. Danny Boyle produced an attractive culmination of the 300 years that we have shared and built together on these islands, and none of this disappears with Scottish independence. In fact it will instead be enhanced and re-energized as we rebuild new British partnerships based on equality and mutual respect.
These unionists also fail to appreciate that independence is all about recalibrating the political relationship of the United Kingdom. What we want is to complete the powers of our Parliament, bring decision making home to Scotland and make our own peaceful contribution to world affairs. Probably the biggest irony is that the strong social ethos of Friday, particularly the feature on the NHS, is being undermined by a Conservative Government we didn’t vote for and with whom Labour believes Scotland is better together!
We relate to what we saw on Friday because Scotland is culturally secure with a powerful sense of itself. Britishness is one of our many identities and one that will be forever cherished in an independent Scotland.

10 thoughts on “Politics and That Opening Ceremony

  1. Peter A Bell

    “Britishness is one of our many identities and one that will be forever cherished in an independent Scotland.”

    Will there be room for those of us who reject “Britishness” completely? I suspect I am not alone in insisting that I am perfectly capable of engaging with other peoples and cultures as a citizen of Scotland, with no need to wrap myself in the contrivance of a “British” identity.

  2. Pingback: Politics and that opening ceremony | Referendum 2014 | Scoop.it

  3. Bob Waugh

    It was a technically impressive show, yes – but the history seemed to stop in 1950. (After that “we” had pop music, apparently…)
    Which maybe is a more uncomfortable truth about “Britain” than the Scottish unionist coalition want to grasp.r

  4. Steven Luby

    As has been and will always be there is a certain taste of Englishness wraped within being British. But my particular concern is other countries that make up the Britsh Isles being relagated to regional status within Britain from England.History revolves around the Battle Of Hastings and its like and is drafted into British History due to a misguided perception that all that is English is in fact British.They can and have chosen this route,I feel that Scotland see’s this differently and has had it’s own history wrapped in a shade of grey for too long now. I have a feeling this year could very well be the last,a swan song if you like,of what Englands understanding of these Isles are.
    They will fail to see and accept the part they themselves have played as Scotland waves them goodbye!

  5. Alasdair Reid

    Personally, I never use the term British to describe myself and never will. I might be able to talk about elements of shared culture with English, Welsh or Irish friends but that’s about it. I’ve an English girlfriend, very much a Londoner and it still doesn’t make me feel British ! I thought the show was pretty naff (the bits I watched) with a few good bits sewn in to a rather confused patchwork but then all these Olympic openings are as boring as hell I suspect unless you are sitting in the stadium and even then when you get to G in the country’s parading out you probably start thinking of getting off home….

  6. Mark

    Don’t worry chaps. The SNP say we can still feel “Scottish & British” with the rather important fact we’ll still be able to watch “Eastenders” post Independence.

    1. Peter A Bell

      Notwithstanding the assertions made by some in the anti-independence camp, your personal identity is entirely a matter for yourself. Other than in a purely legalistic sense, you define who you are. Including your nationality.

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