Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Olympic Opening Ceremony vs The Jubilee - which tribe do you belong to?

It's well known that Britain is divided into two separate tribes who find each other incomprehensible. You have the Tory tribe which is feudalistic and believes that one should accrue status based on birth, and you have the Labour tribe which believes one should advance on merit.

We've seen both tribes strutting their stuff this year.

The Tory tribe got to go first with the Jubilee celebrations.

The jubilee had everything designed to send Tories into transports of delight and Labourites to shudder with horror. Elizabeth Windsor invited such horrors as the King of Bahrain (who tortures those seeking democracy in his kingdom) and the King of Swaziland (who is reputed to abuse his wives). Surely the Prime Minister would veto such guests? But he didn't - because in the Tory feudalistic universe, it's acceptable to behave extremely badly if you are a King. If Kim Jong-un had the courage to admit openly that he was part of a de-facto absolute monarchy, he'd have been invited too.

The Queen was delighted with her unsavoury guests, as you can see from the picture above.

The Olympics opening ceremony was an occasion for the Left. The Olympic games are by definition meritocratic - you don't get awarded medals for your status of birth or connections, but because you've won your race, you are faster, stronger, better than your peers.

The opening ceremony reflected that. It was opened by a choirboy with an angelic voice - he was chosen for how he sounded regardless of the fact that he lacked a left hand and had no fancy birth connections. The whole ceremony celebrated the ordinary people achieving things, overcoming the dark satanic mills, building, inventing (Tim Berners Lee) and caring (the nurses). It was intrinsic value that counted whether that was your talent or your character, not your status of birth (humble, disabled or ethnic).

Despite the Queen being invited to participate via the James Bond skit (and being pressed into it by her advisors), she clearly hated every moment.

She entered the arena as the James Bond skit ended and her face was like thunder.

She not only failed to politely smile at those who welcomed her, she conspiciously failed to get to her feet when the British athletes entered the stadium , in sharp contrast to every other head of state present, all 203 of them, who made a point of acknowledging their people. She chose to pointedly pick at her fingernails instead.

What, get up for the best, most talented athletes in nation? They're nothing but commoners, one only rises for thuggish kings. Got to stick with one's own class, you know.

Whether you belong to the Labour tribe or the Tory tribe depends on which occasion you empathised with most. Did you thrill to the sight of kings and queens and imagined yourself bowing and scraping to them? Or did your heart swell at the images in the Olympics opening ceremony of ordinary people displaying talent, compassion and inclusion?

And the crucial question - which tribe is bigger? I fancy it's the Labour tribe, which is why so many Tories were upset with the opening ceremony. We shall find out for sure at the next election.

6 comments:

The Red Flag said...

The Queen does not stand for her subjects.

I'm not really ar$ed about the Olympics it must be said - I'm very narrow-minded sportswise and only 'do' football.

It was on because 'her indoors' was watching it. As it progressed I became more and more engrossed in the story it was telling and the messages it contained.

It was absolutley brilliant. If you can watch a repeat - do. Maybe it's on BBC iPlayer.

It was very cleverly done - some big big sublimal messages in it about peoples rights, the duty of the state to provide decent standards etc etc. Tapestries of the agricultural revolution and common land, industrial revolution and organised labour, votes for women, standard eductation and health care as a right not a privilage , science and technology being used for the good of the many, racial and religious tolerance and accepteance of other sexualities, the armed forces, music and entertainment that the UK gave the world, the young being the future, even the people that carried the Olympic flag and who they were and what they represented* with the pause at Muhamed Ali - perhaps portraying that he had gone as far on that journey as he was able, but that they would continue: through to Rogge mentioning in his speech that it was the first Olympics where every competing nation had at least one woman athlete then the cameras going straight to the Saudi female Judo athlete.

Dripping with symbology of Man's struggles. Even the grass mound - Glastonbury and what it stands for - and striving to move upwards. The flames all coming together to rise upwards to to a higher level and create one flame. Arctic Monkeys 'Come Together' (originally the Beatles) - same message spanning generations, Pink Floyd's Eclipse (and everything under the sun is in tune). The passing of the flame by old Olympians - under the approving gaze of older Olympians - to up-coming athletes who won't make their competitive appearance until the next Olympics.

There will have been a few Ambassadors from some countries at that ceremomy who would have been squirming in their seats at the messages that it portrayed being broadcast into the homes of the people back in their own countries.

* In case anyone doesn't know the people who carried the Olympic Flag were:-
Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General United Nations
Haile Gebrselassie, Ethiopian athlete who is probably the greatest long distance runner ever, particulalry marathons - which is symbolic. Youth worker and born into a massive impoverished family from a country that is war and famine-ravaged. He survived because of Live-Aid and is a shining example of what can be achieved.
Shami Chakrabati, boss of Liberty the human rights organisation.
Sally Becker, Aid worker made famous for her work in Bosnia, particularly Mostar
Marina Silva, Brazilian Minister of Environment, Champion of ecology and protecting rainforests in particular
Leymah Gbowee, Nobel Peace Prize, headed the Womens Peace Group that is attributed with ending the civil war in Liberia.
Doreen Lawrence Stephen Lawrence's mother. Young people community cohesion worker and anti-racist campaigner.
Daniel Barenboim World famous Israeli Jewish musician who played concerts in Gaza & the West Bank to highlight the suffering of the Palestinian people.
And of course heavily involving Muhamed Ali. Olympic gold medalist, anti Vietnam war activist, anti-racism activist and human rights campaigner who despite coming from what was a deeply racist environment, by his skill and his self-belief, won people over.

The Red Flag said...

And the NHS and the giant baby being born with Oldfield's 'In Dulci Jubilo' (In sweet rejoicing) with evil and fear being swept from children.

And I 'm not in the slightest artistic but I got the message.

The Red Flag said...

The mournful Abide With Me and the dead moving to the light.

DevonChap said...

This is a very silly article and deserves a proper shake down, therefore I shall reply in two comments. I’ll begin with the first straw man you set up. You define Toryism is a way that most Tories wouldn’t recognise and then you attack your straw man. At the same time you define Labourism to be what you, Snokflake, believe. Most people, even party hacks, don't claim to personify their party’s ideas, and understand that there are many views within those parties. I find that I agree with the broad thrust of Conservative thinking, and about 80% of Conservative Party policy. So I'm happy to call myself a Conservative. But I would not claim to arbitrate what is and is not Conservative thinking. It is far too broad for that. Labour has an equally wide intellectual hinterland and it seems presumptuous for you to define what is and is not Labourism. What you personally believe is yours, what a wider movement thinks is not.

Celebrating the Labour value of meritocracy is such a presumption. Many thinkers on the Left have been uneasy about the idea of meritocracy as it can promote a winner takes all idea that since those who are successful are the ones with the most merit, they don’t need to look after the unsuccessful, and those who don’t succeed are failures who deserve a poor fate because they are too stupid or incompetent to be worthy of respect and have no intrinsic value. Indeed Disraelian One Nation Tories held similar views against meritocracy because of the effect on the poor, those would be the bowing scraping aristocrat Tories you fulminate against.

Meritocracy is an idea close to the heart of many modern Tories, especially the Thatcherites who make up the large majority of its MPs and activists. What was Maggie if not a grocer's daughter who rose through her own talents and exertions to lead her party and country, pushing aside the silver spoon wets? Meritocracy can not be claimed as value exclusive to either party. Thus your straw man falls away.

The idea that the Olympics doesn't reflect your status of birth is an interesting one, given that the modern games were founded on ideals that explicitly looked towards the British private school system, that British medalists are drawn far more from those privately schooled than the average and, fundamentally, that sporting success at the elite level is down to genetics. It doesn't matter if 95% of the population trained as hard or as well as Bradley Wiggins, they wouldn't have the genes that a pro-cyclist as a father gave him so could not replicate his success. How much merit is there in winning a genetic lottery?

DevonChap said...

The second straw man is your characterising of the Jubilee. The Jubilee was not just a bit of bowing and scraping to some nasty foreign princes (in fact very little of it was). It was a series of events many with wide public support. 1 million people came out in the rain to watch the river pageant with 10 million watching on TV at home. The Jubilee Concert had TV viewing figures of over 14 million. Now you will counter that the Olympics opening ceremony had 26 million viewers but for us to claim that these figures validate one view or another is foolish, any more to claim that the fact Beijing’s opening ceremony had UK viewing figures of over 5 million means we have that many Communists in this country. People watched for many different reasons, and I'd suggest that political ones are among the smallest. A desire for spectacle and national pride would be the much greater ones among those of the right, left or no political persuasion.

The Jubilee had many local celebrations that were arranged organically by the community. Where I live, near Newport in South Wales, we had a community Jubilee party with food for the pensioners and a bouncy castle for the children. Not arranged centrally like the Olympic torch relay but by local people and the same happened all over the country in Tory and Labour areas, to celebrate the Queen.

At heart this article is another airing of your dislike of the Queen because she was rude to Tony and Gordon by not inviting them to William's marriage. You may be a republican but to claim Labour is anti Monarchy is not supported by the facts. Many Labour leaders and supporters enjoyed the Jubilee as much as they enjoyed the Olympics opening ceremony. Republicanism is a strand in the thinking of many of your party’s activists, but clearly not all, or even the majority looking at the web and public statements.

You compare the heads of state who attended the Jubilee with the Olympics. First point is that if all 203 heads of state attended as you said, that would mean the Queen met again all the nasties you castigated her for over the Jubilee. Luckily facts aren’t your strong point and less than 90 heads of state or government attended, including such lovelies as the Dmitry Medvedev of Russia and Nursultan Nazarbayev of Kazakhstan. Given Tony Blair's joy at meeting Gaddafi, you can go down the road of judging people by the company they keep but you might find it less than productive.

People take from a big event such as the Olympics opening ceremony what they want. The morning after the Olympics opening ceremony the Queen/James Bond scene was one of the most talked about items with millions saying to each other, "That was the real Queen!" in a surprised and admiring way. Only Mr Bean ranked as highly. Do you still want to claim that event for your own tribe or is Mr Bean a tribute to Gordon Brown?

Finally there is your rather nasty personal attack on the queen claiming to know what she was thinking. You do understand the Queen is 86? Most 86 year olds sat in front of a massive modern 'interpretive' dance show from 9:30 till 12:45 at night would have a fixed unsmiling face. Since we didn't have Queencam permanently fixed on her expression we don’t know if what we saw was representative of her face the whole night but nice of you to extrapolate your prejudices from a few clips. Also you expect an 86 year old woman to stand up for half an hour at midnight to welcome the UK team when she knew that all others present in her box would have to stand up, including her 91 year old husband who had medical problems caused by something similar during the Jubilee pageant? You wonder why left-wingers can come across as heartless towards individuals?

My betting is both events will be distant memories by the time of the 2015 election. And possibly when we next hold the Olympics in 2112 the nurses will spell out 'Circle' instead of 'NHS'

snowflake5 said...

DevonChap - you've obviously got VERY worked up about my criticisms of the Queen. Only a true blue Tory with the feudalistic chip embedded in his brain to make him bow scrape and pay to support these dreadful people would have responded in the lengthy way you did, LOL!

You rather prove my point about Tories being a bunch of forelock-tuggers!