Danny Boyle’s Olympic Opening Ceremony last night was… surprisingly good.
I was expecting something really quite naff, but aside from one of the BBC commentators misrepresenting Milton’s ‘dark satanic mills’ as a reference to the Industrial Revolution, and the inevitable wheeling out of the least talented Beatle (Sir Paul McCartney), it was actually pretty impressive.
But did choreographer Danny Boyle also have a political agenda?
It has already been described as:
The most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen – more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state! Welfare tribute next?
— Aidan Burley MP (@AidanBurleyMP) July 27, 2012
Not even communist China were so brazen as to extoll their nationalised stranglehold on their country so blatantly.
— Harry Cole (@MrHarryCole) July 27, 2012
Now these are fairly right wing pundits (you may remember Aidan Burley MP as a former Parliamentary Private Secretary; fired for attending a stag party with friends who dressed in SS uniforms) – but do they have a point?
Some key features of the Opening Ceremony:
(Portrayed by Sir Kenneth Branagh in the ceremony) Brunel is remembered as the father of British railway engineering and public transport in general.
That would be the same British Rail which the Conservatives privatised under Margaret Thatcher – and which they have watched become the most expensive rail network in the world under the management of private companies (and yet have done little to curb the continuing and rapid fare increases)
So our Tory-led government won’t necessarily want us reminding that we were once a nation of railway enthusiasts. Who could at one point actually afford to travel across our nation by rail…
The MV Empire Windrush
The vessel which brought the first large influx of Caribbean immigrants in search of a new life to a Great Britain desperately in need of workers. The 493 passengers aboard formed the core of Britain’s West Indian community, and mark our first real – albeit bumpy – steps towards true multiculturalism.
David Cameron’s Conservative government have already begun implementing measures to restrict migration to the UK – from outside the EU – with the aim of cutting net immigration from ‘hundreds of thousands’ (actually just over 200,000) to ‘tens of thousands’.
So a reminder that immigrants have helped build our nation for generations, and that people of other cultures and nationalities have been coming here in large numbers and integrating for decades probably isn’t the sort of thing Cameron and his ilk want us all to see.
A massively important feature of the opening ceremony; the steel and factory workers representing those of the Industrial Revolution actually forged the Olympic Rings in front of the crowd.
That this display happened under a government whose party almost completely dismantled the British steel industry, and which devastated most other manufacturing in the UK, takes irony to a whole new level.
Our current crop of Conservatives are no friendlier to industry (or other urban development) – one of their first Acts of Parliament after being elected was to scrap the Regional Development Agencies (despite reports that they were both successful and value for money)
Most Brits are justifiably proud of our NHS – and Danny Boyle’s extravaganza showed the world that he at least is not afraid to make the NHS the centrepiece of a celebration of everything British.
Even in a country still reeling from the devastating cuts and ‘reforms’ our Tory-led coalition have inflicted on our once-proud NHS. Since these reforms, waiting lists are already climbing to pre-Labour levels. Hospitals are already refusing to treat eminently treatable conditions. These are not things Cameron wants people reminded of… it reminds us that he is the cause of it all.
So yes – we’re proud of the NHS. And we loathe what the Tories are trying to turn it into.
So do the rightwingers up above have a point? Toby “Free Schools” Young had this to say:
I feel like I’ve just watched a £27 million Party Political Broadcast for the Labour Party
— Toby Young (@toadmeister) July 27, 2012
If watching a celebration of everything which makes Britain Great makes you think of the Labour Party, then hopefully it’s made you realise what our current government represents; that is, everything which is disappointing, repellent and loathsome about our nation.
I really do hope you’re not the only one watching who has realised that, Toby.