Saturday, 28 July 2012

The most "leftie" opening ceremony ever?

As my tweets and retweets show, last night's opening ceremony was a mixed bag, with a number of high points and some shocking lows. You can find it without the inane commentary on iPlayer.

The treatment of our industrial past was ambivalent, but that's not entirely unfair. It was great to see Brunel feature, and one of the most impressive scenes was the shower of sparks from the glowing Olympic rings.

The cauldron was also a thing of beauty:

In other parts, the the ceremony was less impressive. The medley of British pop music could have been brilliant, but it was spoiled by a desperate attempt to appeal to the yoof of today.

As with the Jubilee concert, I was left feeling very sorry for the Queen.

Even the national anthem was given a politically correct treatment, performed as it was by the Kaos Signing Choir for Deaf and Hearing Children.

I'll hand over to Christopher Snowdon:

You may well have seen the Olympics opening ceremony. Insofar as these things are about whipping up patriotic hysteria and selling Great Britain to the world, I think Danny Boyle did a pretty good job. Certainly he ticked all the boxes, and with £27 million to spend he damn well should have done.

Yesterday I predicted that it would be a "politically correct propaganda-fest" and it did indeed turn out to be something like that at times. If all you knew about Britain came from watching the opening ceremony, you would imagine that at least 40% of the British population were ethnic minorities and another 10% were in wheelchairs. A tribute was paid to CND. Perhaps the most politically contentious part involved the National Health Service which was portrayed—as per liberal left orthodoxy—as the envy of the world. The audience was treated to the sight of dozens of happy children being treated in lovely, clean, MRSA-free hospital beds by attentive and caring nurses. Suddenly, apropos very little, sinister figures in black appeared and attacked the children. (Something to do with Harry Potter. I don't know what they're called. I haven't seen the films or read the books. I'm not ten years old). A hoard of Mary Poppins saved them from the evil intruders. It was that kind of show.

It has been suggested that this was a none-too-subtle allegory for the NHS reforms which the evil Tories are trying to introduce. Within minutes, the following graphic was circulating on Twitter (the words 'NHS' which were beamed up from the stadium during the ceremony—to the bemusement of most of the world, presumably)...

Do read his whole post.


Tom Paine was more tolerant of the political correctness, but he too was angered by the NHS bit:

The only real tragedy is that Britain's greatest mistake - the NHS - was given massive prominence. Its hospitals an archipelago of filth, generating new diseases. Its staff forming a producer cooperative on Soviet lines, above all criticism and routinely killing patients without fear of disciplinary action or even much by way of rebuke. Yet, it is a sacred cow. It is supported by all parties, including those that should know better. So it was sort of inevitable. Having lived in other countries where people are mystified by Britain's attachment to so obviously deficient a model of health care, I guess they just smiled at our eccentricity.

All in all I was relieved that we did not disgrace ourselves. My French/Swiss hosts in Mauritius congratulated me and told me to be proud, so I guess we pulled it off.

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