“Great Britain” – an old concept with a startling new face

The phenomenal haul of Olympic medals won by a team named “Great Britain” has changed the way Britons look upon themselves the morning after.

A year ago, a rioting underclass wreaked destruction across London. The notion of Scottish independence was seducing many Scots, and indeed English. “Great Britain” was a term used mainly by diehard nostalgics.

Last June however, the separate components of the United Kingdom hugely underperformed at the European Football Championships. By contrast, a united “Great Britain” has done better in the Olympics than any nation except the U.S. and China, which have much larger populations.

Who today is for a breakup of the United Kingdom, now that a “Great Britain” team has outstandingly demonstrated the effectiveness of internal coherence and mutual solidarity?

And what remains of the idea of the “underprivileged” after the popular British classes have set their stamp on the London Olympics with such panache? Who could imagine that a team drawing on all parts of society, from the lowest to the very top, could work so well together?

Britons can for a change be proud about citizens excelling in a peaceable activity. That’s a refreshing change from focusing on warfaring exploits.

Above all, Britons can celebrate a real achievement, rather than desperately blow on flickering memories of imperial power and victory in world wars.

Successful, classless, united, peaceable? Who knows how long this will last? But I’m abroad on holiday at the moment, and perhaps it’s time to come back.

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One Response to ““Great Britain” – an old concept with a startling new face”

  1. Merryn Williams Says:

    I looked in on the Olympics from time to time, and liked them better than I had expected. The racing, rowing, swimming and somersaults – all extraordinary! I hated school games (so did about sixty per cent of other pupils apparently), but do believe strongly in the value of physical activity and fresh air. Well, my favourite exercise is climbing hills. And as others have commented, it’s better for young people to look up to other young people who have worked very hard, sound pleasant and modest and are now lending their names to the Hunger Summit, than to some overpaid celebrity. Preferable to ‘warfaring exploits’? Yes, indeed.

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