Well, at least there wasn’t a six-foot dancing penis
Prior to the opening ceremony of the London Olympics, the last time Britain put on a taxpayer-funded entertainment that was meant to project the country to the world was on 31 January 1999. The event was broadcast from the Dome (now the O2 Arena) to mark the new millennium. True to the politically correct dicta of the time, the Millennium show said precisely nothing about British history or culture and was an exceptionally trite mishmash of the “we are all one happy global family” variety of painfully right on exhortation and posturing (see http://wwp.millennium-dome.com/news/news-dome-990916show.htm). The lowlight of the show was a six-foot dancing penis. Tawdry is the word which comes to mind.
In 1999 the liberal left propaganda concentrated on pretending that Britain’s past had nothing of merit at best or was positively and unreservedly shameful at worst, while projecting the politically correct wonders of the joyous and fruitful multicultural and multiracial society they fondly but erroneously imagined Britain was in the process of becoming.
By 2012 the politically correct narrative of Britain had changed. The brighter amongst the liberal left had realised that there were dangers in both crudely alienating the native British population at large (and especially the English and the white working class) and in allowing state sponsorship of ethnic and racial divisions through multiculturalism. Consequently, they began to develop a new narrative. The liberal left would present the British past in terms which allowed the multicultural message to be imported into it, most overtly by the pedantically true but grotesquely misleading claim that Britain has received immigrants since time out of mind and non-white immigrants for at least several centuries. (What the pedantically true statement fails to mention is the small numbers and the nature of the immigration – overwhelmingly white and European - until the post-1945 mass influx .) One of the most enthusiastic proponents of the “blacks have always been in Britain” school is the black Labour MP Diane Abbott (a history graduate God help us) who wrote a piece for the BBC’s black history month in which contained this gem: “The earliest blacks in Britain were probably black Roman centurions that came over hundreds of years before Christ.” (Like Captain Queeg I kid you not – see http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/modern/dabbott_01.shtml . For those unfamiliar with British history, let me point out that the first known Roman contact with Britain was in 55 BC – Julius Caesar - and the first Roman settlement in Britain -the Claudian invasion - dates from 43 AD. As for her curious idea that “black centurions” were the likely first black settlers in Britain, I can only guess that she confuses centurion – an officer rank with various meanings in the Roman military - with the ordinary Roman soldier). Three questions arise from Ms Abbott’s concept of British history – how did she obtain a place to read history at Newnham College, Cambridge; how did she managed to take a history degree and what does it say about the fruits of positive discrimination, official or unofficial?
But the storyline that Britain had always been multicultural and multiracial has a gaping practical drawback. The politically correct could fudge present British realities by using their control of the mainstream media to promote the false idea that blacks and Asians occupy a central place in British society by the gross over-representation of ethnic minorities as active participants in programmes and as the subject of programmes. But they could not control the past effectively because the overwhelming majority of those standing large in British history were white, Christian and not immigrants. Of course, attempts were made to promote the idea that non-whites had produced great British figures, such as the attempt in recent years to present the Victorian black woman Mary Seacole – as the equal of Florence Nightingale (http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/historic_figures/seacole_mary.shtml) . But these efforts were inevitably puny because there were so few non-whites of note in British history.
Multiculturalist from the word go
The London Olympics were wrapped in the multiculturalist credo from the word go. The central plank of the bid was that a London Olympics would be multicultural celebration not merely in terms of the competitors, but through its positioning in London and specifically a part of London which contained a very large non-white population. Here is the leader of the bid Seb Coe in Singapore making the final bid for the games:
“… we’re serious about inspiring young people. Each of them comes from east London, from the communities who will be touched most directly by our Games.
And thanks to London’s multi-cultural mix of 200 nations, they also represent the youth of the world. Their families have come from every continent. They practice every religion and every faith. What unites them is London. “ (http://www.london2012.com/mm/Document/aboutus/General/01/22/85/87/singapore-presentation-speeches.pdf).
The official London Olympics website makes no bones about its mission either:
“It is our aim to make diversity and inclusion a key differentiator of our Games, celebrating the many differences among the cultures and communities of the United Kingdom.
It’s not simply about recruiting a diverse workforce. It’s about the suppliers, the competitors, the officials and the spectators – in fact, everyone connected with the Games, from the security guards to the bus drivers. Diversity and inclusion influence every detail of our Games-time planning, from accessible transport to our Food Vision.” (http://www.london2012.com/about-us/diversity-and-inclusion/)
The man given the job of producing an Olympic ceremony which would accord with the new politically correct propaganda strategy was Danny Boyle, the director of, amongst other films, the heroinfest Trainspotting and the Indian-sited Slumdog Millionaire. Boyle did not have to be told what to do because it would be what he would do naturally. He was Old Labour temperamentally but also plugged into the one world politically correct switchboard.
Ironically, or perhaps not so ironically in the light of the very unTory nature of the Coalition Government, Boyle was appointed by the Coalition. However, as the appointment occurred on 17 June 2010 (six weeks after the Coalition assumed office) it is reasonable to suppose that the Tory-led Coalition were rubber-stamping what the Brown Government had arranged without giving the matter much thought. Nonetheless the appointment got some ringing Tory support:
‘Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Culture, Olympics, Media and Sport, said: “The opening and closing ceremonies are the jewels in the crown of any Olympics and Paralympics and are one of the benchmarks against which all games are judged.
“I am very pleased that British directors and producers of such outstanding international calibre and acclaim have given their backing to London 2012.
With their creativity and expertises on board, I’m sure that London’s showpiece events will make Britain proud.”
His sentiments were echoed by the Mayor of London Boris Johnson, who said the “brilliant” team had brought together “some of the most imaginative people in the world”.
“The work they have produced over the years has been quite extraordinary, with an impact not just in the UK, but also on the international stage,” he said.
“They exemplify some of the greatest attributes we have – creativity, vision, and intelligence – which will be critical to ensuring shows that are as stunning as they are uniquely British.” (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/10338048)
The multicultural message is reinforced relentlessly by the mainstream British media. Someone drawing their idea of the make-up of the British Olympic team from British newspapers and broadcasters could be forgiven for thinking that the team was largely composed of black and Asian competitors. The truth is rather different. The Daily Telegraph on 27 July (2012) thoughtfully provided photos of all 541 British Olympic competitors. There were only 40 black, brown and yellow faces amongst them, less than 8% of the total. The small number of black and Asian participants is even more striking when taking into account the fact that blacks and Asians in Britain are on average substantially younger than white Britons and consequently there are proportionately far more blacks and Asians than there are white Britons in the age group suitable for the Olympics.
A political opening ceremony
By its very nature the Olympics opening ceremony should be apolitical because of the vast range of political behaviours and ideologies which are represented by the two hundred or so competing nations. No overtly political production could do other than irritate many whilst pleasing few. It should have gone without saying that that the opening ceremony should have eschewed any ideological message.
Boyle ignored this imperative wholesale and pumped out the liberal internationalist message with shards of Old Labour thinking embedded within it. The world audience was treated to an idealisation of pre-industrial Britain fit for a chocolate box being devoured by industrialisation, toiling workers, suffragettes, Jarrow Hunger Marchers, the arrival of the Windrush symbolising the beginning of the post-war mass immigration, nurses and patients bouncing on beds and dancing to supposedly extol the virtues of the NHS and CND marchers. Apart from being politically partisan it was doubly crass because the overwhelming majority of the foreign audience would not have had a clue about what was going on. The British have an additional beef because they were taxpayers paying for unambiguous political propaganda which came from only one side of the political spectrum. Judging by phones-ins and comments left on blogs, newsgroups and mainstream media comment boards quite a few Britons cavilled at that.
The use of cultural references which were unlikely to be anything other than Greek to foreigners went beyond the politically partisan. Who outside of Britain would be likely to understand references to the film Gregory’s Girl or had a clue what was meant by the attempt to portray the significance of the inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Leigh, by wrapping him up in a story of staggering banality about British youngsters connecting with each other digitally? It is pointless when catering for the widest of audiences to make references to national events and cultural artefacts which do not have either a wide international currency or are of a nature which is self-explanatory.
There were also what can only be hoped were the last throes of Blair’s “Cool Britannia” , with the celebration of the inane and superficial. Various British personalities with international traction were wheeled out: David Beckham, Rowan Atkinson as Mr Bean, Daniel Craig as James Bond, JK Rowling and the Queen as herself, sadly reduced to the status of a pantomime walk-on. The idea that going for a night out represented modern British society at its most emblematic was beyond risible.
To understand how inappropriate Boyle’s show was, imagine an equally political partisan and uncritical show put on by a director with non-pc nationalist sympathies crossed with a religious belief in free enterprise. (This would be a stupendously improbable event in modern Britain but do your best to get your imagination to stretch to the Herculean lengths required) . Such a director might have started by extolling the British Empire as a great civilising force, portrayed pre-industrial Britain as a place of poverty and brutality which was transformed into a much wealthier and more ordered society by industrial capitalism, created a narrative which depicted state interference with the economy as disastrous with the nationalised industries of Attlee including the NHS being shown as inefficient and wracked with political activists , showed the dockers’ march of 1968 in support of Enoch Powell after his Rivers of Blood speech resulted in his sacking by Tory leader Ted heath and the Notting Hill riots as legitimate political protests against mass immigration before ending with a scene encapsulating the erosion of freedom in Britain by the combination of politically correctness and the vast opportunities for surveillance offered by modern digital technology. This last could have Tim Berners-Leigh with his head in his hands as a court sentenced someone to prison for putting out a non-pc message on Twitter. All that would have been as inappropriate as Boyle’s offering but no more so.
No irony intended
Strenuous attempts have been made to suggest that Boyle was being ironic in his broad historical commentary with his portrayal of Britain as being a pastoral idyll before this was rudely disturbed by the industrial revolution. I wish I could believe he was, but I cannot because this is just the type of sentimental ahistorical pap which a certain type of left liberal adores and, even more worryingly, believes. I would not mind betting that Boyle is an fervent admirer of William Morris and the Arts and Craft Movement of Victorian England, with its wistful looking back to a non-existent pre-industrial golden age.
Boyle’s putative historical representation of a blissful agrarian life filled with peasants who were trampled by the grinding face of capitalist engineered industrialisation is ludicrous to anyone who has any understanding of British and in particular English history. The peasantry of England had effectively ceased to exist long before the industrial revolution because the very extensive enclosure movements of the 15th century onwards had turned huge numbers of peasants off land they worked themselves and forced them to migrate to the towns, work as casual labourers or become sturdy beggars. By the time the industrial revolution began circa 1700 there was no real peasantry, the nearest being yeoman farmers.
The second absurdity is the idea that pre-industrial Britain was a pre-lapsarian paradise. Life in agrarian societies is and was no bed of roses. Pre-industrial Britain was no exception. Famines were frequent, both because of general crop failures and the absence of a system of reliable roads and fast transport to move food around. Heavy manual labour was the norm and the production of what we now call consumer goods was small. Sanitation was poor to non-existent and cities, especially London, were death traps because of their propensity to spread diseases. Medicine was so rudimentary that doctors, even those attending the rich, were as likely to kill their patients as not, often with a great deal of unnecessary suffering as Charles II found out to his cost. Industrialisation, and its fellow traveller science, eventually changed or at least greatly ameliorated those ills.
Nor is it true that the industrial revolution was simply a catalogue of cruelty and social dislocation. Great entrepreneurs of the early industrial revolution such as Josiah Wedgewood and Matthew Boulton took a pride in the fine condition of their factories and later industrialists such as Titus Salt built model villages for their workers. Moreover, even where conditions were extremely poor in rapidly growing industrial centres such as 19th Century Manchester, on which Friedrich Engels reported so vividly in the 1840s in his The Condition of the Working Class in England , there is no firm evidence that they were qualitatively worse than the conditions experienced in cities before the coming of the mills and factories. Nor was pre-industrial agrarian labour a sinecure, with most of the work being strictly manual. Imagine cutting a field of corn with scythes.
Boyle’s physical depiction of bucolic pre-industrial England had all the authenticity of a Christmas scene in one of Harrod’s windows. Not only were all things bright and fully sanitary, there was a cricket match of truly howling anachronism. The cricket played in Boyle’s fantasy was modern cricket, with modern pads and bats, wickets with three stump and bails and overarm bowling,. The cricket played in pre-industrial England had batsmen with curved bats, no protective equipment, wickets with two stumps and bowlers delivering the ball underarm. Boyle’s cricket match also carried forward the idea of Britain as a multicultural land way back when because the bowler was black, a sight as rare as a unicorn in the seventeenth, or being generous, the eighteenth century .
The relentless political correctness
The politically correct propaganda did not end with overt message of the various events. It continued with the personnel. Take the nine bearers of the Olympic Flag: Ban-ki Moon, the United Nations secretary general , the runner Haile Gebrselassie , Muhammad Ali , Leyma Gbowee, a Nobel peace prize winner credited with ending the civil war in Liberia, Marina Silva, who has fought against the destruction of the rainforest, musician Daniel Barenboim, Sally Becker, known as the Angel of Mostar for her work rescuing children from war-torn Bosnia, Shami Chakrabarti the director of human rights body Liberty and Doreen Lawrence, the mother of Stephen Lawrence, the black teenager whose murder in 1993 led to the Metropolitan police being accused of “institutional racism”. All fitted in with the liberal internationalist Boyle theme, both in terms of what they were noted for and their multicultural nature. The racial and ethnic breakdown of the nine is five black, two Asian and two Jewish. The last three on the list represented Britain: a Jew, an Asian and a black.
I mention this not because I think there should be no ethnic and racial diversity on display in such events. Indeed, it is inherently appropriate that they are. But it is a matter of proportion. Boyle’s show was unashamedly slanted towards the politically correct credo and the selection of flag bearers was emblematic of this bias, a bias which completely excluded the large majority of the British population who do not belong to ethnic or racial minorities. It also excluded the wider mainstream European populations and their offshoots in the New World and Australasia. Far from being that favourite modern liberal word “inclusive”, Boyle was excluding vast swathes of humanity.
Chakrabarti coyly worried whether her inclusion might be thought politically correct but bravely overcame her qualms because “… if, like me, you believe internationalism can be for people and values, not just corporations and military alliances, how can you resist sharing the optimism of Boyle’s ambition?” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/news/9436921/London-2012-Olympics-Shami-Chakrabarti-had-doubts-over-flag-honour.html)
The inclusion of Muhammad Ali amused me as it always does. He has totemic status amongst liberals , yet this is a man who, until he became non compos mentis , was an unashamed anti-white racist who disapproved mixed racial sexual relationships and was happy to lend his name to the Nation of Islam, a group led by men such as Elijah Muhammad and Louis Farrakhan – see http://livinginamadhouse.wordpress.com/2011/11/09/muhammad-ali-and-the-white-liberals/.
The British media and politicians
The fare Boyle offered up was not to Tory MPs’ taste , but there was precious little public dissent by politicians from the mainstream media view that Boyle’s show was generally a triumph. Good examples of the crawlingly uncritical media response can be found within a supposedly conservative newspaper at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/9434563/London-2012-the-experts-view-of-the-Olympic-opening-ceremony.html.
There were apparently rumblings behind the scenes in Tory ministerial ranks about Boyle’s politicisation of the ceremony, but these came to nothing:
“ In one account of the meeting Michael Gove, the Education Secretary, was said to have scored the ceremony just four out 10, a claim his spokesman denied last night.
Mr Gove was also said to have objected to the absence of Winston Churchill from the ceremony.
According to this version, Jeremy Hunt, the Culture Secretary, was also sceptical about some of the scenes, while Theresa May, the Home Secretary, was said to have intervened to defend Boyle and to have told her colleagues it was unfair to judge the ceremony in such a crude way…” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/london-2012/9435509/Ministers-pushed-for-changes-to-opening-ceremony.html)
Just one Tory MP, Aidan Burley, spoke out publicly against the political nature of the Boyle’s show. For this he has been roundly attacked by not only his own party leader and politicians of all colours, but by the mainstream media with calls for his expulsion from the Tory Party. (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2012/jul/28/olympics-opening-ceremony-multicultural-crap-tory-mp).Small wonder in the ideologically claustrophobic world of politically correct Britain that there was little open criticism from public figures.
Amongst the media Prof Mary Beard , Professor of Classics at the University of Cambridge, took the pc biscuit with her “ I liked ‘that kiss’ too – the split-second clip of two female characters from Brookside, the 90s soap opera – and what it achieved. What a great way to get the first gay kiss onto Saudi Arabian TV.” (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/olympics/9434563/London-2012-the-experts-view-of-the-Olympic-opening-ceremony.html).
She went on to give the standard multicultural line on Britishness:
“ Governments are always complaining that we don’t feel proud to be British. They wag their fingers at us and instruct us to feel patriotic. But it’s a rather punitive approach to history and to identity – with all that checklist of Kings and Queens we’re supposed to know, and the nasty insinuation that you aren’t a ‘proper’ Brit unless you’ve read The Faerie Queene, or Merchant of Venice, or whatever.
Strikingly, Danny Boyle actually showed us that we are proud to be British.
It wasn’t a parade of majesty; the only monarch who featured was our own dear Queen. But instead of one official version, the stage made room for all sorts of people and many different narratives.
It recognised all kinds of things that people care about – from Amy Winehouse to CND marches – and it let them into the story as symbols that can stand for Britain, and have played their own part in shaping our history. It was a really alert reading of what matters to people in Britain today – from JK Rowling to the NHS – and because of that Boyle managed to inspire pride where finger-wagging governments have failed.
He was able to play with the great symbols of Britain in a way that was both ironic and supportive; that takes a special gift. There are many different sorts and styles of histories. This wasn’t a competition with the Jubilee, which brought us pomp and majesty, this was something different: the people’s story.”
So there you have, it was “the people’s story”, a phrase as redolent of the bogus as Blair’s description of Princess Diana as “the people’s princess”. Back in the real world, opinion poll after opinion poll says what really matters to the British today are mass immigration and its consequences, the economic mess we are in and our membership of the EU.
The blind alley of Britishness
The claimed promotion of Britishness by the show was bogus for two reasons. Even at its strongest, Britishmess was not a natural nationality. But in the aftermath of the second world war it did have a certain overarching reach throughout the four home nations and a continuing emotional pull for countries such as Australia, Canada and New Zealand. A mixture of mass immigration from all ends of the Earth, the religious promotion of multiculturalism by the British elite, the devolution of political power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland and the weakening of links with the old dominions caused by Britain’s entry into what is now the EU have killed Britishness as a functional concept. Liberals left still cling to it because it is the fig-leaf which covers the consequences of mass immigration and to a lesser extent of devolution. Immigrants reluctant to call themselves English call themselves British, although that is usually a hyphenated British such a black-British or Pakistani-British. Pro-unionists insist that everyone is British. What Britrishness no longer represents is the native inhabitants of Britain.
But what Boyle gave the audience in his parade of was not even this bogus Britishness . He gave them Englishness. Not an honest Englishness of course, but Englishness as filtered through the grossly distorting prism of political correctness. The rural pre-industrial idyll could only have been England with its cricket and soft greenness. The industrial revolution scenes are set in an English context with Isambard Kingdom Brunel. Not only that but the industrial revolution began in England and spread outwards: all the important early industrial advances took place in England: the invention of the steam engine , the smelting of iron using coke, the various machines which mechanised the cloth industry, the great factories of Wedgewood and Boulton and later the railways which utter transformed the distribution of goods and people. The personalities such as Daniel Craig, David Beckham, JK Rowling and the Queen are all English by birth and upbringing.
An appropriate show
What would have been an appropriate Olympic show for the world audience? There was a truly gaping open goal for Boyle to shoot into. All he had to do was narrow his focus and produce a show based on Britain’s immense contribution to the foundation and formulation of modern sport, including her considerable influence on the founder of the modern Olympics , Pierre de Frédy, Baron de Coubertin. Apart from being highly appropriate this would have been something unique because no other country could have done it because they do not have the sporting history.
The show could have begun with a general run through of the games and sports which originated in Britain – football, cricket, rugby union and league, lawn tennis, golf, badminton, squash, table tennis, snooker – those which were derived from British games such as baseball and American and Australian football , and the strong hand of other pursuits such as rowing and horse racing which although not unique to Britain appeared as organised sports very early in Britain.
Having established the British sporting foundations, the show could go on to examine the role played by Britain in establishing large scale spectator sport which could run from the 18th century with cricket and horseracing to the 19th century with the coming of the railways opening the way to sport becoming national and then international as first the four home countries of the UK – England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales played one another at football and rugby then other countries as the 20th century came while England and Australia became the first Test playing cricketing nations to meet. The theme of Britain taking sport to the world could have been expanded with reference to the Empire and the considerable efforts made by private organisations such as the Marylebone Cricket Club to spread individual sports and games.
Having laid out the sporting DNA of Britain, the show could conclude with the long standing idea of Olympic games in Britain, drawing first on the Cotswold Olipick Games of Robert Dover which began in 1612 and ran, with a break during the English civil war and Protectorate, until 1852. A modern revival began in 1965 (http://www.olimpickgames.co.uk/). This would be followed by Dr William Penny Brookes’ Wenlock Olympian Games http://www.wenlock-olympian-society.org.uk/olympian-games/index.shtml and the subsequent formation, by Brooks and others of the National Olympic Association in 1865 (which continued to 1883) with the first National Olympic games being held in 1866 (http://www.tiger2.f2s.com/JohnHulleyMemorialFund/national_olympian_association.shtml ).
The extent of Brookes influence on the modern Olympic movement was recalled by Juan Antonio Samaranch when president of the International Olympic Committee . He visited Much Wenlock in 1994 and laid a wreath at Brookes’ grave and in a speech said “I came to pay homage and tribute to Dr Brookes, who really was the founder of the modern Olympic Games.” (http://www.shropshiretourism.co.uk/much-wenlock/).
What does the opening ceremony tell us?
The extent to which the media and politicians have fallen into line with the Boyle politicking demonstrates the tremendous success the liberal left have had in acquiring the levers of power and working them ruthlessly. Whenever a highly contentious subject provokes little public debate you may bet your life on it being the consequence of the suppression of one side of the debate. It is no wonder that in present day Britain so little public opposition to the nature of Boyle’s show should have occurred. Politicians and people with access to the mainstream media know only too well that to go against the politically correct tide is to invite serious trouble.
The real message of the Olympic opening ceremony is simple: the liberal internationalist triumph is at its zenith. As things presently stand no one with contrary views can get a fair public hearing or most of the time any public hearing at all because the mainstream media censors such views severely. The British people, and especially the English, are left with no means to control their own country in their own interests. They are simply spectators of their own destruction.