Did the opening ceremony undermine the SNP’s attempts to break up the UK?

Douglas Alexander: "As Scots we may believe there’s nowhere better – but Friday reminded us there’s something bigger"

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Did Danny Boyle’s widely acclaimed Olympic opening ceremony on Friday undermine the SNP’s attempts to break up the UK?

That’s the assertion from one leading light in the “Better Together” campaign, sparking a row over the politicisation of the event.


With the event itself focusing on those great British institutions such as the NHS as well as popular British culture, music and history, one Scottish member of the shadow cabinet has argued that the sense of Britishness the ceremony encapsulated reminded Scots of what they cherished.

Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander explained:

“Friday’s opening ceremony was a big cultural moment that will impact on our sense of ourselves and politics here in Scotland even after the athletes have headed home. 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.”

He continued:

“It captured authentically a modern Britishness that is confident, generous, warm, inclusive and funny.

“From the NHS to Gregory’s Girl to Chris Hoy it was about who we are today. As Scots we may believe there’s nowhere better – but Friday reminded us there’s something bigger and why on earth would we want to give up part of who we are?

Meanwhile, linking the ceremony to the Diamond Jubilee, Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, a former contender for the leadership of his party north of the border echoed the sentiments, declaring:

“There is always a danger of reading too much into these things, but I think we have seen a reclamation of British identity over the last year with the Queen’s Jubilee and the passage of the Olympic torch.
“The ceremony wasn’t just about London or about England, it was about the whole of the UK. No matter where they lived, I think people will have associated themselves with a lot of what they saw.”


See also:

Mail back Burley in attack on opening ceremony’s “absurdly unrealistic” mixed-race family 29 Jun 2012

Citius, Altius, Fortius… It’s Games Time! 27 Jul 2012

London 2012′s legacy: How will the UK benefit after the Olympic Games? 27 Jul 2012


Dubbing it a “puerile attempt to politicise the Olympics” a spokesperson for the Scottish first minister Alex Salmond who attended the opening event and who has led a trade delegation to the Games, has responded:

This puerile attempt to politicise the Olympics certainly wouldn’t win any medals.  With the latest poll putting the SNP even further in the lead than last year’s election landslide, and independence ahead of every other constitutional option, Douglas Alexander and his colleagues in the Tory-led anti-independence campaign are clearly getting desperate.”

“The first minister loved every minute of the opening ceremony, and the 
Olympics are a global celebration of sport – with over 200 nations across the planet fielding the very best of their talent. This is time to get behind our athletes and sportsmen and women and cheer them on to success – Douglas Alexander and his straw-clutching colleagues in the anti-independence campaign would do better just to watch the Games.”

At the Daily Record meanwhile, in its editorial following the spectacular opening event, the Olympics encapsulate a “dream” for Scottish athletes and an opportunity to unite. It explained:

We will cheer every British success, and the cheers will be even louder for own squad of 54 Scots Olympians and 23 ­Paralympians. For these men and women, the vast majority unsung and little-known, ­representing Britain and Scotland on this stage is truly a dream come true.

A dream, of course, founded on sheer hard work and the determination to be the best they can makes each and every one of them a winner, regardless of whether they come home with a medal or not.

It continued:

“If you are looking for a role model for youngsters, look no further than Team GB and team Scotland.

“Some of us will be lucky enough to watch these athletes in person down in London. The rest of us will watch on TV.

“But even the biggest cynic will struggle not to get caught up in the sheer joy that the Games bring.

“In a troubled modern world, the Games bring an old-fashioned magic which none of the commercial baggage now attached to the event can diminish.

“Let the light shine, let the magic flow. Let history be made and let memories be born of this, the 30th modern Olympiad.”

At the Belfast Telegraph the Danny Boyle’s show provided an opportunity to celebrate the Olympic “ideal” of “celebrating the achievement of taking part.” Its editorial observed:

“The long journey of the Olympic Flame throughout the UK, and also briefly to part of the Irish Republic as well as Northern Ireland, has shown the organisers’ determination to make this a widely inclusive spectacle. The public has responded magnificently by showing the anticipation needed to match the magnitude of this event.

“The ultimate prize of gold, silver and bronze medals will be significant milestones in the careers of each winner, and also a national tally of a country’s collective achievements.

There are 19 competitors from Northern Ireland taking part with Team GB or Team Ireland, and a strong possibility of several medals coming to this island.

“Some of the fancied hopefuls include rowers Alan Campbell and Peter and Richard Chambers, as well as boxers Paddy Barnes and Michael Conlan, and cyclist Wendy Houvenaghel.

“Only a minority of competitors can receive medals. But the Olympian ideal is in celebrating the achievement of taking part.

“This will be a time for taking our much-prized seats at the live events, or for watching the proceedings in detail on television. In that sense the historic London Olympics 2012 will show that everyone can be a winner.”


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75 Responses to “Did the opening ceremony undermine the SNP’s attempts to break up the UK?”

  1. Howard Price

    “To be British requires you believe in the United Kingdom”


    To be British means you live in the British Isles

    There were Britons millennia before there was ever a UK.

  2. Anonymous

    Except the entire point is you’re trying to abolish that. It’s really quite silly you get hung up on that point, that you can’t stand the semantics of your own arguments.

    And you appear to be talking about the *Celts*.

  3. Anonymous

    Historically incorrect. It was the Scottish Unionist Party you refer to, a different creature. Unionist referring to Ireland. A working class Protestant vote that largely dissipated when the English Conservative Party (in the Tory sense) merged with the Scottish unionists to become the Conservative and Unionist Party. The remnants of the Scottish Unionists are the Orange Lodge, with which Labour is aligning of late.

    True, English-style Conservatism is a much thinner voting strand in Scotland. In part because the orientation to hierarchy, status, class divisions,stark free enterprise extremism etc never sat well with either Catholic culture or Protestant communitarianism.

    The rest is at odds with NATO structure and operational norms.

  4. Anonymous

    I see, you think NATO welcomes freeloaders in a strategic sense?

    And the fall of the Tory party north of the Border is the same story as the fall of the Labour – it’s a case of disenfranchisement, rather than the voters going away (until the SNP came along, with it’s wide church…).

    Not that you’ll admit the realities in supposedly left-wing Scotland, but there we go.

  5. Anonymous

    Precisely the response that you sought and baited him into responding with. Ever so ‘cleverly’ done. You must be proud – “there my self realising expectation was achieved!”

    One intemperate ill-judged response does not a “fascist” make.

  6. Anonymous

    Oh, making excuses for him now are you? I didn’t think you were quite that sort, but thanks for revealing otherwise.

    People are responsible for their own actions, if your sort want to lash out, well, feel free. I will point it out though.

    I never said he was a fascist – simply far right- the fachist claim was his, in fact. Your defensive reaction on the issue is again fascinating, though.

    What a wonderful ambassador for your cause you make (And I could think of few better ways to illustrate my point to the Scottish left).

  7. RolftheGanger

    The terms of NATO membership will be negotiated as and when Scotland joins. The stance of being in NATO but not having nuclear weapons in the country is prevalent in NATO. Nothing ‘freeloading’ about it.

    Any other policy but ‘Nukes out’ will be very unpopular in Scotland.
    You want them, you keep them. Elsewhere.

    From observation, the Tory Party literally dies out. the old staunch ‘Unionist’ tor was an Empire Loyalist type. As the empire faded, the British state faded and neo-liberalist barbarianism (whether Thatcher or Blair) did not attract continued support to the SCUP.

    Lateest development is both Labour for Independence and LidDems For Independence facebook-based sites The hidden support for self government within all parties is surfacing. “Things fall apart, the centre cannot hold” Thankfully.

  8. RolftheGanger

    Opinion surveys are an unrelable indicator. As witness the ‘surprise’ Scotland GE result 2011. “Never saw it coming” will be the refrain after the referendum, likewise.

  9. PressData_indyref

    Ed Jacobs on @leftfootfwd asks if the #Olympics opening ceremony dented @theSNP's attempt to 'break up the UK' #indyref http://t.co/mIenn8Et

  10. Anonymous

    “Blank cheque, blank cheque”

    The countries without a deterrent PAY for that coverage, so you cannot escape the moral culpability of being covered by them. You grasp at straws, adding costs onto others to feel good about a morally unchanged situation.

    “Hidden Support”? It’s NEVER been hidden. You spin conspiracy theories because you must. Because the fact is, you’re demanding a blank cheque for your right wingers to scribble on.

  11. RolftheGanger

    This is a public blog, not a private conversation.
    The comment was making visible a pattern to the posts. Readers can judge for themselves if they agree the comment is valid.

  12. Anonymous

    The comment was your excuses for a fellow far-right poster.

    I completely agree that they can judge – poor impulse control is hardly the good you make it out to be.

  13. Anonymous

    Hidden as in not in clear overt public view. Read the media. Up until now there has been no visible spokesperson, organisation or media presence identified as party members campaigning for independence from within the major UK parties. Now there are both Labour and a LibDem internet campaigns surfacing.

    The left wing revolutionaries of one era become the entrenched establishment reactionaries of the next era. Kier Hardie and the other early socialist Home Rue for Scotland supporters are light years removed in spirit from the defenders of the entrenched wealth, power and privileges of Westminster, Whitehall and the media that support that exploitative and rank incompetent power centre. You even push for retention of nuclear weapons,

    As for the rubbish about the ‘ease’ of creating a federal system, just read The Times or Telegraph adamant views for feedback that the only choice acceptable is ‘take it or leave it’ Either Scotland tolerates the present exploitative situation as a captive vassal state to be milked, or chooses independence. That failure to reform or offer a sensible rebalancing of the UK will tip the scales for the undecided to vote Yes in the referendum. As we shall see..

  14. Anonymous

    Ah, the language of inevitability as well as completely changing the ground so you’re not wrong, rather than just admitting there’s no conspiracy.

    You want to join NATO, but want to pass the costs of the nuclear deterrent off onto others – it’s dishonest, at best.

    And I’m not a Journalist, driven by editorial fiat, I’m a British left winger. You present a false choice, and are admitting you’ll do anything to achieve your goals – like any good right wing fanatic.

    Of course any proposal for a federal system isn’t going to be taken seriously until after the Scottish referendum, one more reason to dislike your separatists.

  15. Anonymous

    “Intemperate, ill-judged” equals “good” in your assessment? That’s a peculiar equation.

    As strange as posing as Leftwing and arguing LibDem fakey federalism – taken 80 years token support, currently in office and not a whiff of “Home Rule” on offer.

  16. Anonymous

    Of course not, a federal system isn’t “home rule”. Of course you have to smear someone offering a real alternative as a “LibDem”.

    Moreover, do try reading my posts. It’s good that people reveal their true feelings. If they’re not ready for public discourse, well…

  17. RolftheGanger

    ‘Nationality’ is a misnomer. They mean ‘Citizenship’ The wrong term is a hangover from simpler eras whereh the French say, lived in France. so Citizenship and Nationality coincided and ithe term Nationality went on passports. Now, with multi-national populations in a global world. citizenship would be more accurate.

  18. Dusty

    Suggest you go and watch it again on Iplayer.

  19. Uglyfatbloke

    Spare a though for the majority of the UK population – the 60% or so who were lucky enough to be able to avoid the ceremony. We really don’t want to hear about how vast sums are being thrown at well-funded athletes and ‘sports’ bureaucrats. If there’s billions to spend on a dreary athletics meeting in London, you;d like to think that other people’s hobbies might get an equal level of support.

  20. Uglyfatbloke

    Looking back over the posts …
    The issue of NATO membership – like EU membership – cannot be really be addressed on the basis of current information, but neither organisation has a mechanism for getting rid of members. The UK is a member of both organisations, but in the event of Salmond’s gnats getting a ‘yes’ vote, there will be no UK, since the UK was formed by the parliamentary union of England and Scotland in 1707. Rationally it’s either both in or both out, but I can’t see the EU or NATO being prepared to relinquish territory under any circumstances. That said, if the gnats win then there will have to be EU negotiations for both countries and probably the loss of opt-outs like the Schengen agreement and the loss of rebates.
    As for trident, it is an irrelevance; it has no military value whatsoever, so the sooner we’re all rid of it the better., but if the price of independence is the continued presence of Trident for another decade while facilities are built elsewhere the gnats will go for that.

  21. RAMFEL

    This wk's most read: #4: Did the opening ceremony undermine the SNP's attempts to break up the UK? http://t.co/anB6kY1J

  22. Matthew Collins

    This wk's most read: #4: Did the opening ceremony undermine the SNP's attempts to break up the UK? http://t.co/anB6kY1J

  23. Darren Buller

    Did the opening ceremony undermine the SNP's attempts to break up the UK? http://t.co/L21Gt2wV

  24. Hearthammer

    You have to relise that Newsbot is the resident certified looney! Everyone who disagrees with him is a far right. NF supporter!

  25. Newsbot9

    No, you PERSONALLY are to the right of the NF, you have made statements clearly demonstating this. It’s your right wingers who insist on collectivism, of using stereotyping as a weapon.

    You’re also a typical good little totalitarian, trying to get anyone who disagrees with you in any way locked up – social darwinist rubbish.

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