London 2012: Or What it Means to be British
Scotland and Team GB in the 2012 Olympiad
So it's over. It's all over. After two weeks of riveting television and updates on twitter, I am left with no more Olympics. It was gone too fast. Seeing Team GB pick up so many medals was tearjerking and heartwarming but mostly it was something truly special. The highlight of course being Greg Rutherford take the Long Jump - he is a fellow ginger after all.
But it's left a strange feeling inside, one I have always had but never truly embraced. I am proud to be British. There are so many opportunities coming out for London 2012 to actually start making these things work the way they should. Both sides of the independence debate need to move fast to achieve anything in the zeitgiest.
In 1938 Glasgow, Scotland was host to the Empire Exhibition. It was a showcase in Bellahouston Park of everything that makes Britain awesome. Our fantastic empire which covered one third of the world was at it's peak and the Second World War was another year away. After the depths of the depression this exhibition would bring back that spirit that so often made Britain great. Glasgow was it's home and it really was fantastic - or so I have been told.
So what happened? Well quite frankly the empire fell apart and now we are left with the following: England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland which make up the bulk of the UK. That's not quite it though. There is also the Isle of Man, plus the Channel Islands of Guernsey, Alderney and Jersey. Even that isn't it all however. Across the world are 14 places (mostly islands) currently acting as Overseas Territories of the UK. Among these the Cayman Islands and two others competed as olympic teams in 2012. It would appear that this United Kingdom is not as United as it should be.
I would love to see closer ties and links with our fractured empire. Why go to Spain when we could visit the Falkland Islands? Why struggle with French when you could visit Gibraltar? Instead we have 14 territories and 3 crown colonies costing the UK millions each year; a not so united Northern Ireland; the north of England with no representation at all; poor wee Wales and little ol' Scotland.
Any break with the UK as a whole would not essentially stop us being British. The island we live on is Great Britain, that won't change. With so much history at stake I would hate to see an Irish or American style end to our British-ness. Our past should be as respected as our future.
Well done Team GB - well done Scotland, England, Northern Ireland and Wales. Here's to Team GB in 2016 in Rio.
Posted on 14th August 2012 : permalink