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. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – Did the opening ceremony undermine the SNP’s attempts to break up the UK? http://t.co/CILUpBij


    Did Danny Boyle's opening ceremony undermine the SNP's attempts to break up the UK? @EdJacobs1985 reports: http://t.co/jNddj5gn

  3. Nicholas Birns

    RT @leftfootfwd: Did the opening ceremony undermine the SNP's attempts to break up the UK? http://t.co/Cc1VrRX0

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  6. 45 Apples

    Did Danny Boyle's opening ceremony undermine the SNP's attempts to break up the UK? @EdJacobs1985 reports: http://t.co/jNddj5gn

  7. Political Planet

    Did the opening ceremony undermine the SNP’s attempts to break up the UK?: Douglas Alexander: "As Scots we may b… http://t.co/NrCLj1Os

  8. Ed Jacobs

    RT @leftfootfwd: Did the opening ceremony undermine the SNP's attempts to break up the UK? http://t.co/fI1Rwlma

  9. Shamik Das

    Did Danny Boyle's opening ceremony undermine the SNP's attempts to break up the UK? @EdJacobs1985 reports: http://t.co/jNddj5gn

  10. Anonymous

    By 2014 everyone would have forgotten about the Olympics, we’ll be deeper into this recession that was caused by successive waves of Westminster neoliberal parties and the full scope of tax avoidance by Olympic sponsors will inevitably have been revealed by the press.
    The ‘No’ campaign seems to overlook the fact that it is George Osborne and David Cameron who are doing most of the work to persuade people to vote ‘yes’ to independence, by continuing the last government’s war on the sick and disabled, by selling off private services to corrupt Tory backers and by insulating the rich from the recession at the expense of the poor.
    I have yet to meet a single person north of the border who wishes to remain part of the UK.
    No-one in Scotland wants to be ruled by Tories, be they blue, yellow or red ones.

  11. Howard Price

    Errr No.

    In less than a months time. the Olympics will be just a vague memory. The opening ceremony was an almost entirely English affair, with a few token gestures thrown to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. If you removed them, it would have looked virtually identical.

    In fact, if commentators on the BBC and many English newspapers continue to use ‘England/English’ instead of Britain/British in reference to Team GB, it may even galvanize support for an Independent Scotland.

  12. Dusty

    A very ‘BRITISH’ show and a good one at that but I will still be voting in 2014 to distance Scotland from the British political establishment. It doesn’t make me any less British simply because I want Political decisions made for Scotland in Scotland.

  13. Anonymous

    Yes yes, do keep pretending that nobody in the North votes for Union-wide parties, and keep pushing the far right myth of identical parties.

  14. Anonymous

    Well, no, it makes you not British at all.

  15. Dubbieside

    The unionists must be getting desperate now, if they think a showbiz extravaganza no matter how well done will replace political dialogue.

    On the doorstep, vote for the union, why? we ran a great show and we won x gold medals. Ok thats me convinced.

  16. Dubbieside

    The answer is if anything it strengthens the SNP case.

    The Olympic opening highlights the growing differences and idealogical divide between Westminster dominated England and a more left leaning liberal Scotland.

    It does not matter what colour of Torys England returns, true blue torys, red used to be socialist torys or yellow, no one knows what they used to be torys, the privatisation of the NHS, schools and social services will continue apace in England. Then there is Trident. Scotland wants no part of any of that, and there is only one way to ensure that does not happen.

    Interesting that in Scotland Labour are happy to share a platform financed by Torys to maintain Cameron as Prime Minister with their better together campaign. Mind you some Labour supporters are waking up to the hole Labour are digging for themselves in Scotland with the launch of http://www.labourforindy.co.uk/

  17. Anonymous

    Are you absolutely off your f***ing nut?
    Bloody troll.

  18. Anonymous

    Actually, I said you were pushing a far right myth.

    However, your typical reaction and violent reaction to that means that, yes, at THIS point I’d grade you as far right.

  19. Anonymous

    As opposed to the blank cheque you’re demanding? Yes, even that pathetic excuse for an argument is better.

  20. Anonymous

    Fash troll.

  21. Jeuandavidjones

    you confuse culture with politics. The establishment is a much more slippery creature to grasp than the ‘british’ common culture expressed on Friday. Little to none of that culture would change if Scotland became independent, or Wales gained more powers. A radical political solution would need to rebuild british democracy, on a fully devolved, perhaps Federal model; write a proper constitution and bill of rights, replacing hereditary monarchy as the head of state and eradicating all privileges of the disestablished Anglican church.

  22. Anonymous

    You’ve lost it.

  23. Anonymous

    Confuse? No, it’s called taking people’s word for something.

    Ah yes, wipe out all traces of any history on either side. Wait, what?

    A codified constitution has major issues of it’s own (and I VERY strongly oppose it, just as I oppose changes to parliamentary sovereignty), the Monarchy is cheaper and simpler than an elected head of state and as a Jew I really don’t feel affected in any way by the Anglican church – may be an issue for other Christians, but I honestly don’t care myself.

    I’d rather focus on real issues, there can be a Federal UK quite easily, and it’s VERY different from “devolution”.

    Revolutions ALLWAYS eat their children.

  24. Dusty

    How so?

  25. Anonymous

    To be British requires you believe in the United Kingdom. It’s completely incompatible with a belief in sundering the union.

    Personally, I have any feelings for Britain, and not for any of it’s individual constituent parts.

  26. Anonymous

    “a more left leaning liberal Scotland.”

    History says that this is far from true. The Scottish Tory vote was very strong, and if you think it’s simply vanished… (The SNP is, again, a very broad and in many ways very odd church)

    Pushing the far right argument that there’s no difference between Westminster parties doesn’t help your cause in that regard one bit either. There’s certainly no LEFT wing party, but that doesn’t mean that there are not different right and centralist ones.

    And you’re actually probably ensuring that the UK *keeps* it’s deterrent, rather than arguing for a sensible solution to it (UNSC Reform, then abolition). Certainly it’s pretty unlikely you’d be allowed into NATO without paying a share anyway.

  27. Dusty

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

    I have to disagree with that.

    My passport has my nationality as “British” and unless there was a change that no one told me about, the only requirement to be British is the need to have been born anywhere on the British isles. Britain has been called Britain for far longer than any Kingdom, united or not.

  28. Elsueno

    Your comments on Scottish NATO membership are absolute speculation Newsbot, there is no evidence to suggest otherwise. We could just as easily play rightfield and say that NATO will welcome Scotland without playing any part in Trident.

    Also your arguement about different “right wing and centralist” parties is clutching at straws. And short ones at that. There is very little difference between the Lab-Cons, Lib-Cons and the Con-Cons anymore. All are in cahoots with the London money men ie. Financial services. All don’t give a damn about young people (only do when canvassing for votes). All are terrified of the “grey vote”. All have signed up to the dismantling of welfare state. All are happy to keep an abomination to mankind in Trident. All supported the illegal war in Iraq. And all have signed us normal folk up to years of austerity while the super rich get richer. We’re all in this together… aye right.

  29. Poll shows overwhelming support for Olympic ceremony - as reports claim Gove "objected" | Left Foot Forward

    […] See also: • Did the opening ceremony undermine the SNP’s attempts to break up the UK? 30 Jul […]

  30. SJ

    Did Danny Boyle's opening ceremony undermine the SNP's attempts to break up the UK? @EdJacobs1985 reports: http://t.co/jNddj5gn

  31. Anonymous

    They’re informed speculation, however.

    Moreover, it’s no straw unless you’re basically making the far right argument.

    And you’re the one whose answer is to ignore the issues and ask for a blank cheque where all of that is in dispute rather than help sign on to a left-wing party!

    You’re solving nothing, and quite possibly creating worse problems for everyone.

  32. Anonymous

    Well, given you don’t WANT that on your passport if you’re a Scottish nationalist, my point stands.

  33. Elsueno

    Such a vague response.

    I have no idea what you mean about blank cheques.

    Removing Scotland from the shackles of neo-liberal Tory policies and the “jobs for the boys” brigade that has become New Labour will solve more than you know. Besides unless you are Scottish and live in Scotland then it is not for you to decide what Scots do with their future. You can scream and shout from the sidelines all you like about being too wee, too poor & too stupid. This is, however, the digital age and people are not so easily fooled anymore.

  34. Anonymous

    It’s not vague at all, unless you’re being wilfully blind. You’re actively ignoring the policies of the party you claim to follow, for that matter.

    And only if Scotland is independent. You’re claiming a mandate which goes before the independence. You are, basically, spitting in my face for having the TEMACITY of thinking I’m British.

    And then saying that anyone who is not in locksteps with you is a fool. Good right wing politics there.

  35. Elsueno

    Now your making up statements on my behalf, how queer.

    I follow no party. Don’t fall in to the trap of believeing every independence supporter is an SNP follower. The SNP are a means to an end for me, not a party I will follow to the ends of the earth.

    I think you are very much making things up as you go along. You can be British all you like, nobody here and certainly not me, are “spitting in your face” but the political union between Scotland and England will be over should Scots decide that is the case.

    Again making up statements as you go along as I have been “saying” nothing of the sort! But I will agree with my (your) fictititious statement that you are looking somewhat foolish now.

  36. Anonymous

    Yes, you’re spitting again, and you expect me to believe that your posts in support of the SNP…yea, you keep on calling anyone who’s not a separatist a fool.

  37. Elsueno

    Calm down dear.

    Ok then make up whatever assertions you want. Its all here in black and white for everyone to read and I am sure those who view these comments will see just how plain bonkers you responses are getting.

  38. Anonymous

    Ah yes, a good Tory policy there.

    I’m not the one making assertions, you’re the one making them.

  39. Elsueno

    Now calling me a Tory even though my first post is clear what I think of Tories.

    Playground tactics of “oh no you didn’t/ oh yes you did” show whatever vague point you are trying to make to be nothing more than hot air.

  40. Anonymous

    Yes, one post versus repeated evidence. And why are you making vague points and using playground tactics then, when you don’t have a clue about the policies you’re supposedly supporting!

    Funny that.

  41. Elsueno

    Evidence? Show the evidence you have for your assertion that NATO membership would be based on Scotland keeping a nuclear deterrent. Back your words up then, here is your chance Newsbot.

    And please do tell what policies I support? Apart from independence and removal of Trident, I haven’t said much else!

    Keep up the straw man arguement!

  42. Anonymous

    Ah yes, a change of topic.

    And no, that’s not what I said. You’re using a straw man yourself, in pursuit of your diversion. Well done, Tory – thank you for convincing me of your bona fides.

  43. John Ruddy

    We’ve pretty much had the Olympic coverage on here non-stop since Friday. Cant say I’ve heard much of this “England” business in relation to team GB on the BBC. They will of course correctly identify the nationality of an athlete (eg, the Scottish swimmer Hannah Miley).

  44. John Ruddy

    Remind me how the level of support for independence has changed since George and Dave took over in 2010.

    I think you’ll find that it hasnt. Its been stuck at around 30% for decades, and the much vaunted celebrity launch didnt change that.

  45. Xarundel

    RT @leftfootfwd: Did the opening ceremony undermine the SNP's attempts to break up the UK? http://t.co/n8ZW6efR

  46. annie

    RT @leftfootfwd: Did the opening ceremony undermine the SNP's attempts to break up the UK? http://t.co/n8ZW6efR

  47. Anonymous

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

    One big theatrical night with dancing girls and a light show and decades of SNP advancement in politics is nullified. Aye, right.

    Voldemort for the Union. Mary Poppins and the Child Catcher – Better Together. Maybe we’ll see these slogans in Scotland yet.

    Anyway, for a British ceremony where was England? We had video cutaways to a Scottish choir in Scotland, a Welsh choir in Wales, a Northern Irish choir in Northern Ireland but no English choir in England.

    What happened there?

  48. Jackie Johnson

    @Xarundel: RT @leftfootfwd: Did the opening ceremony undermine the SNP's attempts to break up the UK? http://t.co/w0mpFM59. || I think so 🙂

  49. Mr. Sensible

    Anti-independence campaign desperate? Independence ahead in the polls? Reality check please…

  50. Howard Price

    John Inverdale – Rowing. BBC Football commentators. Telegraph. Daily Mail, Independent. All used England, instead of British and we’re only 3 days into the event.

    And anyway, why would I listen to you? you’re a Labour Party lackey. Your opinion on the constitutional debate isn’t worth tuppence.

    Your absurd ultra unionist stance, and an alliance with (and bankrolled by) the Tories in a campaign to bind Scotland to Westminster means your position is completely untenable.

    A rapidly growing number of your members think so too:



    Labours crazy positioning on the Scottish independence debate is manna from heaven for pro-indy supporters. Even English born ones like me!

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