Game changer- really?

July 29, 2012

I never bothered watching the opening ceremony live – and confess to having as much interest in the Olympic Games as I have in Outer Mongolian horse nutrition. What has captured my interest enough to fast forward through the various aspects of the opening ceremony is the absolute drivel dripping from various mouth-pieces about political game changers. Let me add my drips…

The show appears to have been well put together, as a stage-show of what the writer believes to have been a few of the seminal moments and developments in British history and the essence of Brittania today. Well done Danny Boyle on that score – and on the musical score that accompanied the show. Something for nearly everyone!

He has tried to create a tangible representation of the figment that is held to be “Britishness”. British history exists in spades- although most of it went unmentioned- (well in decent company it would wouldn’t it?), but modern British culture as a positive aspect of life is not easy to illustrate, mainly because it does not exist in any positive form. Any attempt to fabricate an impressive modern culture from bits and bobs of what is Britain today can only lead to embarrassment on the international stage.

It would appear that those most impressed by the whole affair were British politicos, seeking political mileage from what is cast as an event beyond politics. There again, the essence of sport and international communion has already been well and truly shot apart by the way that commercial sponsorship has been able to drive everything from lawmaking to packaging of policemen’s crisps.

Bring on the dancing girls and the political capital-
Douglas Alexander had this to say “To win the referendum the Nationalists need to convince us that the rest of the UK has become so foreign a place with such different values that we should split apart.
“Friday’s ceremony did something completely different – by attempting to capture and define the essence of Britishness it reminded millions of us what we so cherish.”
Mr Alexander, (presumably deliberately), misses the point- The main driver behind independence is not that the other parts of the UK are so alien or that values are so different , but simply that as a nation Scotland will be better governed for its own good if decisions are made in Scotland.

It should also be said that the values of Scotland and other constituent parts of the UK are not always in tune. One of the major political points that the ceremony tried to make was the pride of the British in the NHS. The timing is ironic given the recent announcements from Westminster.
The NHS is indeed in its concept a system to be proud of, although in its management and performance not always equally so. The point now is that Scotland is running far closer to its founding aims and principles than the rest of the UK, solely because decisions on health are devolved and therefore made in Scotland out of the reach of the Tory government and their Tory-like predecessors of New-Labour. The Scottish government continues to maintain aspects of the service that are being sold down the river by the Tory /Lib Dem government in Westminster.

Let us remove the flag waving and jingoism that the Brits excel at and consider some of the various scenes and see if it helps to see what people are claiming may be a game changer in British outlook and political direction- to identify the things that so bind us that it precludes Scotland re-establishing the right to self governance.

NHS – Dealt with above, Mr Bean and lavatorial humour, Village Cricket, Industrial Revolution, James Bond and a parachuting Queen. Which amongst these are the case for the sense of Britishness that would convince us that in fact we really are better to hold our place in the Union?

All in all, Danny Boyle produced a large west end stage show. Its ability to change the political landscape and halt Scotland’s independence aspirations in their tracks stretches no further than a quick buzz of adrenalin. It will have no more effect on independence than Jesus Christ Superstar or Joseph and his Technicolour Dreamcoat would have in driving the masses back into the arms of organised religion. A month down the line it will be nothing more than a pleasant memory, although I would expect it to get airtime in the run up to the independence referendum. I suspect that in the re-run it will be seen as far more cringe-worthy than political dynamite.

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