Images: nationalvanguard.org/, reveal.co.uk, theguardian.com
‘Just four years ago, Britain proudly projected the image of an open, tolerant, confident nation onto the international stage. We luxuriated in the glow of an Olympic opening ceremony that drew together the best of British: from Shakespeare to EastEnders the Queen to James Bond; the NHS to the internet.’
That’s how the Observer editorial opened on Sunday 23rd October 2016. It’s instantly worrying that they thought these were the ‘Best of British.’
The Olympics was a hugely expensive vanity project which sucked the resources from community sports activities and which actually resulted in a decline in general activity levels. The Observer/Guardian editor must have seen this in July 2015:
‘Sport England, the quango that invests £325m of exchequer and lottery funding in grassroots sport per year, last month published participation figures among adults that were damned as very disappointing by the new sports minister, Tracey Crouch. Her Labour opposite number, Clive Efford, called them disastrous. The figures showed that the number of people playing sport at least once a week had declined by 222,000 in six months. Meanwhile, the percentage of those on the lowest incomes participating in sport has hit the lowest level since records began in 2005-06.’
Shakespeare, a damn fine writer I agree but was he not quite mean and narrow-minded himself? He left his wife his ‘second-best bed’ and was:
‘a ruthless businessman [who] did all he could to avoid taxes, maximize profits at others’ expense and exploit the vulnerable.’
His work is full of cruelty, deceit, dishonesty, violence. Look at Mr and Mrs Macbeth, Shylock and Hamlet. You and Nigel Farage can take him to the pub. I’ll take Rabbie Burns any day.
Eastenders! Eastenders? What could be more mean and narrow-minded than the lives and tongues of that nasty crew?
‘You slehgs! You slehgs!’
The Queen! The Queen? The Guardian editor thinks having a monarch is not just a good thing but a very good thing? So, we have a monarch in receipt of millions in tax payer contributions at the same time as the bedroom tax and food banks and this is good in some way?
Finally, James Bond is another ‘Best of British?’ I saw and enjoyed the first two films. I was 13 years-old at the time. I’ve grown up a wee bit since then. This is a hired killer and sexual predator. I know there is worse to see on TV but we’re not saying they’re ‘Best of British’ are we?
Best of British or Best of English?
The Observer editorial uses the words ‘Britain’ and ‘England’, ‘British’ and ‘English’ interchangeably as if they are the same thing so that evidence from a survey of England is left as evidence for the headline statement. This is not new for Scottish readers.
For decades, I’ve been angered by this tendency and it is particularly annoying in this context where all the evidence is that Scotland unlike England is becoming less mean and narrow-minded. I’ve written recently on this. You only have to look at the lack of a hate-crime spike in Scotland after Brexit as compelling evidence. You’ll get more evidence in:
Mind you, looking on the bright side as we Scots can do, there are times when I’m glad that the tendency use ‘English’ for ‘British’ pays off. I first noticed it listening to angry chanting against British foreign policy by a crowd in Tehran. I then noticed it in protests in other crowds in the Islamic world: ‘almawt lilalanjlyzia!’ I’m assured it means ‘Death to the English!’ Of course, then the Black Watch regiment drove their armoured vehicles into Iraq flying the Lion Rampant. Get that down!