Thought Dan's guff deserved a half-hearted Fisking :
The Olympic Games have brought British patriotism back into fashion: British patriotism in its broadest, most benevolent, most generous form.
So far, so good. I find myself agreeing with Mr Hannan.
Watching the first event, the men’s cycling road race, in Surrey, I sensed that something had changed.
Really? What had changed, Dan?
Every house along the route was draped with Union flags. The people in front of those houses were cheerfully handing round drinks and sandwiches to strangers, united by the warm feeling that they were all hoping for the same thing.
Well, that’s happened before. Loads of times. The Royal Golden Jubilee, Willie & Kate’s wedding, the Euro football championships - union flags bloody everywhere. So that can’t be the something that had changed.
The disappointing position of the Team GB cyclists when they eventually flashed past made little difference to the mood. People had been celebrating their common identity with one another, not just with Britain’s sportsmen.
But again, people have been celebrating their common identity with one another since 19 May, when the first torch carrier set out. Everywhere the torch went, all over the UK, people have been waving union flags, cheering, lining roads, and err, celebrating their common identity with one another all over the bloody place. So that’s nothing new, either.
Similar scenes have been repeated all over the country ever since, British spectators of all backgrounds uncomplicatedly cheering British athletes of all backgrounds.
Yup, just like since 19 May, cheering on torchbearer athletes of every shape, size, shade or persuasion, from amputees to erm, black American music producers.
For example, Mo Farah, who won a magnificent victory in the 10,000 metres, moved to the United Kingdom from the Horn of Africa when he was nine. Asked by a journalist whether he wouldn’t rather have run for Somalia, he swiftly replied: ‘Look, mate, this is my country. When I put on the Great Britain vest, I feel proud — very proud.’
And quite bloody right too, Dan. You don’t say whether it was a BBC journalist that asked such a twat of a question of Mo, so I assume it may have been a colleague of yours from the Mail.
Not that any of this stopped Evan Davis, a presenter on Radio 4’s Today programme, from asking Boris Johnson whether Conservatives were as comfortable as Labour supporters with the Games as ‘a really fantastic advert for multicultural, multiethnic Britain’.
Not at all unreasonable, given the Tories’ historic vehement hostility to the very concept of a multi-cultural and multi-ethnic society (and Labour’s consistent embrace of such concepts).
It’s a typical BBC tactic to rattle off ‘multi-cultural-multi-ethnic’ as though it were a single word, a single concept.
Is it? Why? What does this “tactic” achieve? Surely if you have a society made up of multiple ethnicities, then you’re likely to get multiple cultures? So while not a single concept, the two are intertwined.
n fact, the Olympic Games celebrate the precise opposite of multiculturalism.
I don’t think so, Dan. What would be the point of bringing together 207 different nations, with their 207 different cultures, living, playing, and socialising together – even, lord knows, shagging each other, and competing against each other in high level sport for a glorious 17 day celebration of the world’s different peoples, if it was to celebrate the precise opposite of multiculturalism?
The Union flags now flying all over the country are totems of a shared loyalty that supersedes ancestral ties. Wherever our parents were born, we can be patriotic Britons by signing up to a set of common values.
And a pretty decent set of values they are: free speech, parliamentary democracy, jury trials, religious toleration, personal liberty, habeas corpus. These are the precepts which make Britain a more agreeable place to live than, say, Somalia.
Well, yes, you’re actually right again there, Dan. Though you unaccountably missed things like collective representation at work for working people, civilised employment rights and health & safety protection, and participation in the European Community and European Charter for Human Rights.
The United Kingdom, unlike many of its continental neighbours, has traditionally had a civic rather than a racial concept of nationhood.
A hundred years ago, 80 per cent of British subjects in the then Empire were neither white nor Christian. Yet, twice in the last century, tens of millions of young men came from across the Empire to fight for a country which, in most cases, they had never set eyes on, because they believed in what it stood for.
Indeed. Perhaps you have to be a BBC presenter not to see this.
Twenty-two years after famously wondering at the loyalty of crowds at cricket matches, I suspect that Norman Tebbit (the Tory peer said an immigrant’s allegiance should be judged by which side they cheered when England played a Test match) is allowing himself a thin smile.
Disingenuous, Danny boy. More likely he is choking on his Bombay Sapphire. And a good many of those cheering on Mo Farah this week will still cheer for the Windies the next time they play the English in a Test Match.
The truth is that there are few signs of divided loyalties in Britain this week.
Tebbit’s cricket test was handsomely passed at Headingley over the weekend, as South Africa-born Kevin Pietersen knocked his former homeland’s balls all over the grounds to amused chants of: ‘He’s ours not yours!’
By South-African born English cricket fans? Thought not. English fans cheering on an England side isn’t Tebbit’s cricket test, Dan.
Boris Johnson, who is having an utterly splendid Olympics, did something similar to Evan Davis’s questions. When it was put to him that the Games were ‘not so great for the Right’, he replied: ‘Kids around the country are seeing that the more you put in, the more you get out — which is a wonderful Conservative lesson in life.’
Spot on, Boris.
Bollocks, Boris. That’s no more a wonderful Conservative lesson than the Golden Rule is a wonderful Labour lesson.
In the run-up to the Games, we enjoyed the comedy series Twenty Twelve, in which a gang of quangocrats and busybodies chuntered on endlessly about multi-culturalism, inclusivity and diversity. The Games themselves, by contrast, are about patriotism, elitism and ruthless competition.
False binary. Multi-culturalism, inclusivity and diversity are not only perfectly compatible with patriotism, elitism and ruthless competition in a sporting and cultural context, they are at the heart of these games.
Here are a few more points that Boris might have made, had he wanted to crush the ludicrous notion of the Olympic Games being ‘not great for the Right’.
First, the Games have reminded us of quite how much we admire the Armed Forces, who this fortnight are supplying so much of the security.
No they haven’t. Not me, anyway. Anyone else?
Seeing servicemen close up, rather than in some foreign field on television, many of us have been taking the opportunity to thank them. We are lucky to live in a country where civilians like and respect their soldiers — and, for that matter, their police officers, who are being applauded wherever they appear.
We always have
lived in a country where civilians like and respect their soldiers and police (broadly speaking), as do so many other countries. It isn’t a uniquely British thing. In fact it’s fairly widespread.
Second, the sight of so many delirious parents watching their now grown-up children — the children whom they had happily ferried to training session after training session — is a reminder that families are much better than government agencies as providers of education, inspiration, healthcare, social security and discipline.
Utter bollocks. The collective provision of education, health care, and social security is immeasurably more practicable and superior to the individual provision of such things in just about every case.
Third, the Games are a vindication of competition in schools. Some Leftie columnists have been whining about the fact that a disproportionate number of the athletes were educated in the independent sector, but what does this tell us?
That that just isn’t true – as has been shown. Jessica Ennis, Mo Farah, and Greg Rutherford all took up their sports at state schools – no thanks to your government selling off school playing fields galore, Dan.
The answer is that, in general, independent schools have encouraged competitive sports in the realisation that the flawed ‘all must have prizes’ philosophy is a poor preparation for life beyond the school gates.
The money that independent schools are able to spend on facilities like the Olympic rowing lake at Eton Dorney – built for 17 million quid and owned by Eton College – helps too.
Of course, there are plenty of state schools that offer sporting opportunities — an increasing number, indeed, as Education Secretary Michael Gove’s reforms start to take effect. It could be a wonderful achievement if the legacy of the Olympics was that every school in Britain fostered the same ethos.
Well, I certainly ain’t holding my breath.
Fourth, the United Kingdom has been shown to stand for something very strong. These Games have been bad news for those on both sides of the Scottish border who see the Union simply as a technical arrangement.
We agree again, Dan. Good grief.
England, Scotland, Wales and Ulster all have claims on their inhabitants’ loyalties, but there is also such a thing as British patriotism. In Aberdeen or Aberystwyth, Antrim or Andover, we are one people, speaking the same language, shopping at the same chain stores, watching the same television programmes, singing the same songs.
Buggering the same sheep.
We know ourselves with all our faults: brave, taciturn, prone to drunkenness, stubborn, bloody-minded. Yet we recognise, too, that our country has given a great deal to the world.
We developed and exported the sublime idea that the individual was more important than the State, and that laws ought not to be passed nor taxes raised except by our own elected representatives.
In pursuit of those values, we have more than once saved Europe from tyranny. God knows, we have had our shameful moments, too, but when the reckoning is made, few countries have contributed so much to the happiness of Mankind.
Not everyone who displays a Union flag in their window would put it in so many words, but most of us sense that that flag stands for something — something to be proud of.
Best of all, these Olympics seem to have cured us of the belief that it is somehow un-British to win.
Again, I don’t think so. And that’s not in line with Pierre De Coubertin’s line of thinking either. You just don’t get this Olympic ideal stuff, do you, Dan?
Show me a good loser and I’ll show you a loser,’ said the actor Paul Newman.
Our ancestors didn’t raise these islands to greatness by revelling in mediocrity. Sportsmanship, decency, seeing the other chap’s point of view — those are British virtues right enough. But there is no dishonour in also wanting to succeed.
And, while it would be un-British to gloat, I think we can be forgiven a certain inner satisfaction, after French President Francois Hollande’s boast about rolling out the red carpet for his own country’s victorious athletes, at the way we are thrashing the French.
Not so great for the Right? It certainly is. But it’s also great for the whole country.