Multicultural Britain, Olympic Games, Danny Boyle - Spectator Blogs

7 August 2012

Back from holiday and it seems just about the only “controversy” at these splendid* Olympic Games lies in Danny Boyle’s exhuberant opening ceremony. According to its critics it was multi-cultural crap or pap or something. And, of course, in one sense it was a hymn to multi-cultural Britain. Why else would Boyle have begun with choirs in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and England (spliced with rugby footage) if not to remind the audience (in London and further afield) that the United Kingdom is not quite the same thing as England.

Of course, that’s not what the critics of multi-culturalism really mean when they sneer at “multi-culti” tripe and political correctness “gone mad”. One of the problems with discussing these matters is the difficulty of defining and agreeing on terms. If your understanding of multi-culturalism is that its proponents believe in some kind of parity of esteem between all cultures and all cultural “practices” in Britain (which leads to a revolting tolerance of intolerable matters such as forced marriages and the like) then your having one discussion. If, on the other, you seem to mean that multi-culturalism really means “too many black people and too many brown people as well” then you’re having quite another discussion.

I can’t help but feel that when discussing these Olympics “multi-cultural” most often means “multi-coloured”. So when Evan Davis asks Boris Johnson on the Today programme if Tories can be comfortable with a games that are a really fantastic advert for multicultural, multiethnic Britain” he’s essentially asking Boris to agree that conservatives are, deep down, a bunch of racists.

Davis, however, seems confused by his terms too. There is, he suggests, a distinction to be made between “multiethnic” and “multicultural” Britain. Indeed there is but the story and tone of these Olympics – set by the opening ceremony – is of people from many parts, of many ethnicities and with many stories,  coming together to represent a single place. E pluribus unum. Multi-ethnic yes but not multi-cultural in the way Davis seems to mean.

If you think of the United Kingdom as a kind of rope then you may begin to appreciate this more keenly. It contains many strands – mini-ropes themselves, if you like – but these combine to create a thicker, stronger, more enduring line.

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And Danny Boyle’s Opening Ceremony demonstrated that too. Far from suggesting – as the triter critics have averred – that British history began with the arrival of the Windrush he told a story of British exceptionalism from the industrial revolution to the world-wide-web. If this was necessarily selective it was also surprisingly coherent (and Unionist in its DNA, incidentally). For that matter, it was also a story of the great shift from the land to the city in which Britain also took the lead, followed, in time, by almost every other country on the planet.

(Those complaining there was too much pop music -and the CND sign, incidentally, was a pop-cultural marker, not a political protest – and not enough poetry forget that, with a worldwide audience, the ceremony had to be a visual and aural feast.)

Perhaps Boyle flattered us too grandly. But this was the image of Britain that we like to pride ourselves upon: a trading nation open to the world, a tolerant place in which people of many hues and beliefs can find a home and build a better future. As stories go, this is a good one. It doesn’t belong to either left or right and it’s a foolish person who believes their particular political tradition has some kind of monopoly on goodness or is the sole inheritor of or guarantor of British exceptionalism.

Indeed, Boyle made that pretty clear in his programme notes:

We hope too, that through all the noise and excitement you’ll glimpse a single golden thread of purpose – the idea of Jerusalem – of the better world, the world of real freedom and true equality, a world that can be built through the prosperity of industry, through the caring nation that built the welfare state, through the joyous energy of popular culture, through the dream of universal communication. A belief that we can build Jerusalem. And that it will be for everyone.

That’s neither a conservative nor socialist vision, it’s a statement of muscular liberalism. Britain once led the world in that too, you know.

I suspect that’s why Shami Chakrabati – director of the civil liberties pressure group Liberty – was one of those charged with carrying the Olympic flag. How many other countries would afford such a notable honour to a representative of an organisation that, more often than not, exists to make life awkward for government? One in the eye for the Chinese, that.

So, yes, these games have been a splendid success. After all the chuntering and moaning beforehand (another great British tradition) it should not, really, be a surprise that many folk appear to be enjoying themselves rather more than they thought they would. That’s a typically British reaction too, of course.

Danny Boyle refashioned Our Island Story for the digital age and he did so in ways that were surprisingly thrilling and even, at times, moving. Audaciously, he suggested that the British idea was the Olympic idea too (and, of course, Jacques Rogge made the point that it is impossible to imagine the Olympics without this country’s dominant contribution to sport).

So if this is multi-cultural Britain on stilts then, by gum, given the success of these games then lets have more of this kind of thing. In a dreary moment in time, these Olympics have shone and offered comfort and cheer to all who have enjoyed them. That’s worth celebrating. And so is the idea of Britain we’ve seen and wondered at this month.


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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Good blog.

  • keith

    Damned if I understand this. Massey first made a big thing of distinguishing multi-ethnic from multi-cultural, concluding that Britain was multi-ethnic and all these ethnicities were pulling together for Britain in the games. Then in his last sentence he seems to attribute the success of the games to multi-culturalism, something he had earlier condemned as including some barbaric practices. I’m not sure that he knows quite what he wants to support and what he wants to malign.

  • jpeeps

    Alex – I couldn’t agree more. Very well put. As to your question “Who’s Afraid of Modern, Multicultural, Olympic Britain?” the comments to this blog give a clue to the answer. Despite an innate need to turd-polish, I’ll say no more, other than that if I ever found myself on a sinking ship, I’d rather drown than find myself on a lifeboat with Wilhelm and his ilk.

  • Andrew Chandler

    I prefer the term ‘inter-cultural’ and like your idea of a rope, which also connects with Britain’s seafaring heritage. The differences between the nations of Britain are cultural rather than ethnic, and wide cultural differences have always existed within those nations, not to mention class-based culture. I have never subscribed, as a cultural historian who has written on migration and integration, to the idea that each ‘culture’ should be placed on its own plinth, each of equal height. That is artificial social engineering, which, like comprehensive schooling, never works. Neither does enforced assimilation. Britain is great at interaction between cultures, allowing each new wave of immigrants to find its own means of integration, and, in so doing, redefining our concept of what it means to be British, so that we manage current change through continuity with the past. This is what transcends the politics of both Right and Left and, if it leads to a ‘new Patriotism’ among politicians as well, I’m all for it. Bring it on, Boris!

  • AY

    as one can easy guess, many Britons would hail urgent and effective closure ceremony for “Modern, Multicultural, Olympic Britain”.

    but for that occasion I afraid, one will need to hire a director like Christopher Nolan, star wars or who else is doing that imaginative scary crap.

    as the stuff might well strongly object to peaceful cancellation.

  • John Lea

    I think what the opening ceremony demonstrated is that the people behind it (not the British people themselves) are rather immature: obsessed with pop music and pop
    videos, appearing hip and right-on, celebrity-obsessed, with a sixth form understanding of British political history. Like others on here, I dislike the symbolism of Doreen Lawrence being present at the ceremony (she is not Rosa Parks), nor was there any justification for Chakribartee being there, other than to perpetuate the myth that we all live in a wonderfully free society (try telling that to the Tory MP who tweeted that it was a load of ‘multicultural cr*p’ and found himself having to apologise).

  • Ru

    Why was it that the BBC thought the most appropriate choice to represent British children in Beijing was an Ethiopian immigrant? I say again, the most appropriate symbol of *British* children, an *Ethiopian* child?

    Why can’t British people represent themselves? What is it the left regards to be so disquieting about that?

    Is the issue here that multiculturalists don’t know how insulting they are being to this country’s people, or that they do know but don’t want to be challenged about it?

  • Ru

    The point was it wasn’t multicultural, I only counted 3 cultures being represented in Danny Boyle’s modern London sections ( around half of the total ceremony).

    One of them significantly over-represented, one of them significantly under-represented. And one of them about right. Most of them, totally ignored.

    As I mentioned, this did not happen by accident. All of the key spots were cast personally by Danny Boyle, and he cast people first on race, second on talent or suitability. How do I know this? Think about it, there is no way that the modern London family was mixed-race by accident, no way that the boyfriend was not intentionally an immigrant, that the flag bearers were not intentionally ethnic minorities, and that the Windrush was not intentionally the only racially exclusive part of the night. No way that the Dizzee Rascal spot was ever going to be something else.

    So all in all, it’s a bit rich for Leftie Multiculturalists to be aghast that people are commenting on the racial elements of the ceremony, they started it.

  • MikeF

    Just as I was making coffee this morning it ocurred to me that if the winning of medals at the Olympics by British athletes from ethnic minority backgrounds is a ‘triumph of modern, multiculturalist Britain’ what is the right description for the winning of medals in the equestrian events by, as fas as I can tell, uniformly ‘white’ people wearing traditional costumes of the type worn by the foxhunting community and is the BBC ‘celebrating’ it?
    But this debate is dragging on a bit. Perhaps it is time to just let the opening ceremony slide into the past. After all we have got the closing ceremony to look forward to. I saw a newspaper report that it will feature models of famous British landmarks like Tower Bridge. I wonder what twist will be put on them. Perhaps they will sprout minarets and be turned into mosques….

  • Wilhelm

    Ever get the feeling ” journalists ” are living in a parallel universe and telling us BS.

  • Wilhelm

    After watching the opening ceremony of the Olympics which was a Cultural Marxist propaganda extravaganza, a ” Triumph of the Will ” in a brainwashing celebration of multiculturalism and miscegenation.

    Danny Boyle worked closely on the opening with former members of the Revolutionary Communist Party and the Socialist Workers Party, plus Catherine Ugwu, a half cast, leftist, that explains the race mixing sequence.
    Also included in carrying the Olympic flag
    Muhammad Ali, male, black American: boxer, draft evader, and humanitarian activist.

    Daniel Barenboim, male, Israeli: an old-line leftist Israeli, of a type once common but made almost extinct by the perpetual, institutionalized Jew-hatred of the Muslim world.

    Sally Becker, female, Jewish-British: peace activist.
    Shami Chakrabarti, female, British of Bengali parents: Director of Britain’s National Council for Civil Liberties (equivalent to the ACLU).
    Leymah Gbowee, female, Liberian: peace activist.

    Haile Gebrselassie, male, Ethiopian: great long-distance runner from an exceedingly poor African country.

    Doreen Lawrence, female, black British: mother of homicide victim Stephen Lawrence .
    Ban Ki-moon, male, Korean: Secretary-General of the United Nations.
    Marina Silva, female, black Brazilian: green activist.

  • Beefeater

    There was no cultural diversity. The show was a homage to Britain’s televisual commercialism. (What else, when the show is created by a Film Director?) It played like a TV commercial for a movie of Great Britain: “Great Britain will move you to tears and laughter. It’ll sweep you to a realization of true freedom and real equality in creative imaginings of hymns, movies, movies-of-the-book, TV sit com, TV costume drama, TV comedy shows, Bard-movies.” The opening “ceremony” slicked its way from televisual cliche to cliche. England’s green and pleasant land (animals!), satanic mills (pollution), revolution (NHS), the communication age (Jerusalem!). History culminating in Pop! Everyone united by tech. Flash mobs! Let’s Occupy!
    Where was the racial diversity? The rapper? The Dad in the red-brick? The black faces among the chorus-line (what was the choreography of the arm-movements meant to suggest? Whipping workers? ) of top-hatted capitalists? There is still a Commonwealth, isn’t there? Former colonies? Surely real, true, muticultural/multiracial could have been managed with reference to movies of Empire. Gunga Din.
    There was no celebration of British exceptionalism, only of post-nationalism. The Queen’s stunt (did she really agree to have a cross-dressing bloomered parachutist impersonate her? Why not Dame Edna?) and Mr. Bean’s mockery of “Chariots of Fire” – a movie about striving for national (and individual) Olympic glory – took care of any suggestion that Britain encourages national feeling. It does foster national Feeling: Compassion for the sick. Britain is now post-national and proud of it. I look forward to a visual and aural post-Tartan, post bag-pipe opening ceremony in independent Scotland.

  • Ru

    “Who’s Afraid of Modern, Multicultural, Olympic Britain?”

    Well according to that ceremony, white people ought to be; they are apparently going to make up 20% of its population and 0% of its representatives.

  • Ru

    I only saw black people and a couple of Asian people. Only spotted one Chinese bloke, pretending to be a Victorian engineer. A medley of people smelting iron in the industrial revolution. No women mind you, that would have been a fiction too far.

    Oddly enough, when it came to the arrival of the Windrush there was no multiculturalism to be seen – apparently that bit of the ceremony had to be racially pure and historically accurate. The carrying of the flag both here and in Beijing required a particular section of multicultural Britain to step up to represent us all. The majority don’t fit the bill. While the family and romance of the future looked remarkably monocultural too – just a monoculture where white people seem to be in the minority.

    Wonderful if that all happened by accident, and Danny didn’t cast the Windrush passengers, the family, the boyfriend, the flag carriers for their race.

    Though I am left wondering where all the other cultures were. Where were the Jewish haberdashers for instance?

    What Danny Boyle’s ceremony did show quite well was that Britain’s most remarkable achievements came from one particular quarter and before the last act. After the chimneys came down, the show became steadily more vacuous and confused, which was a clever twist to the tale.

  • dalai guevara

    This discussion over the relevance of multiculturalism is essentially a side show. It is here to stay, and not under threat due to the attractive British (business) climate and its colonial history.

    When times are good, developed nations compete to attract the highly skilled. This will never change and Britain has only begun to grasp what it means to be well educated, given the £50k degree is now in place.

    When times are bad as they are now and the economy contracts, some think the easy option is to send the foreigners back to where they came from – be under no illusion, these people do not hold the moral high ground.

  • AY

    if multicultural multiethnic society i so wonderful, why don’t we hear anything good about it.
    why is that Britain needs so many army and police and keep aircraft carriers in Thames and AA batteries on roofs – to protect peaceful sporting event.
    who are the threat – are they ethnic English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh?

    we only read about riots, paedo rape gangs, election fraud, terrorism, attempts of political assasinations, suppression of women, polygamy, FGM, gun and knife killings, degradation of education, declining sanitary norms and NHS and so on.
    ethnic minorities are grossly over-represented in all these cases of “cultural enrichment”.

    oh yes certainly – the problem is that we don’t have enough multiculturalism, our intellectual gurus will say..

    so another sermon from jihadi “journalist”, another rant from dizi-rascal, another set of benefits here, another mosque there, another heard of somali “immigrant” pirates here.

    life will glow brighter and brighter, just relax and don’t be negative.
    all humans are the same, – nobody will hurt if you don’t offend innocent people.

  • Wilhelm

    Regarding the Opening Ceremony. Why did the camera zoom into every black man ? Why were black people put into roles that they did not participate in ? ( black 19th century industrial wearing his top hat, showing off his wonderful smile ) It’s just preposterous.

    This warped logic didn’t follow the SS Windrush sequence, no whites were included.
    To a outsider,they would think the demographics of England were 90 black , 10 % white.

  • Wilhelm

    I was dreading the opening ceremony of the Olympics and I was proved correct. It was like watching the Long March through ( trashing ) the culture by Gramsci

    1. Industrial Revolution, tick box.
    2. Trade Union movement / coal miners, tick box.
    3. Suffragettes, tick box.
    4. Jarrow March, tick box.
    5. The creation of the NHS, according to Danny Boyle, the apex of civilisation.
    6. SS Windrush, the start of mass immigration, tick box.
    7. Beatles, garbage music, tick box.
    Ending in a celebration of multiculturalism and miscegenation to the music of a rapper called Dizzee Rascal wearing the habitual baseball cap back to front, jumping up and down, babbling away.
    If it couldn’t get any worse, it did, in some sort of weird pagan, one worlder, let’s all hold hands around the camp fire and sing Kumbaya my Lord, ritual they brought the Olympic flag into the stadium carried by human rights ” lawyer ” Miss Shami Chakrabatti.
    Topped off by 70 year old ” Saint ” Paul McCartney croaking out the song Hey Jude.
    It would be funny if it wasn’t so tragic. When you actually think about it, it was so bad it was good in a Ed Wood kind of a way.
    It was deeply disturbing to my psychological welfare, to the very core of my being.I found the whole thing intolerable to my soul.

    • dalai guevara

      Did you not approve of the pre-recorded fly-over the Square Mile and the portrayal of the champagne banksters?

      Did you not like how Seb Coe effectively begged the world to carry on supporting London as the centre of the financial world?

      What would you have deemed appropriate? Show what brilliant imperialists the British are? All that drug trading in Hong Kong, the great British invention of the ‘Chinese drug den’? The Battle of Ferozeshah and other slaughters on the subcontinent? Royal approval of piracy in the Caribbean? Have Cliff Richard sing?

      You see, it’s easy to critizise but much harder to actually come up with a decent show. I personally think it worked and was a pleasant alternative to the mass synchronisation – undoubtedly colourful it was – seen elsewhere.

      • Eddie

        Dalai -0 your knowledge os history is scant and inaccurate. Compare the British Empire to others (brutal Asian and African empires, the Germans and the Russians). You will see (when you stope being so racist and anti-British – odd, seeing as you obviously enjoy living here in our country) that most of the British empire was a good thing. It was of its time but it spread liberty, properity, stability, technology, civilisation around the world to very dark places of savages and dictators (sadly many places have reverted to old behaviours since). The Moghul empires in India, the Ottaman empire, the Zulu empire – all were just land-grabbing greedy murderous empires. The British empire started with trade but then became a moral mission – it stopped lavery for F sake! Typical ungrateful immigrant. We like the highly skilled coming here but Brit-haters like you should be turned back at Heathrow.
        Why pick on the tiny number of bad things the empire did when most of what it did was good? Couldn’t be biased and racist, could ya?
        The ‘slaughers’ on the subcontinent? Compared to the Jihad now stupidly called the first Indian war of independence (Indian mutiny 1857) where Muslims spared Muslims and murdered everyone else. The British did not invent the Chinese drug den you Brit-hating anti-white racist wally! The Chinese as per usual wanted evryone to kowtow and would not open their markets, yet expected to sell in our markets, so – bearing in mind this was 200 years ago – the Brits used tactics acceptable at the time. And those in Hong Kong would rather liked to have stayed British actually!
        The British empire was the most decent, modern, tolerant, constructive, law-based, civilised empire in history: if you read any you’d know that, dumbo.
        You are an idiot. We do not need immigrants like you – who have brought so much crap to Britain that has not enriched us at all (look at the % of prisoners who are black and asian please).

        • dalai guevara

          Mate, everything stated above was recently discussed by the honourable Jeremy Paxman and is not a figure of my imagination. Only because Britain hasn’t LOST a war doesn’t mean it’s all hunky-dory.

          Turning the ‘commonwealth’ into a games ceremony is a clever move, but those with a conscience will recall countless atrocities within living memory of some.

          Back to topic: OUR olympic games ceremony was as much a reflection on OUR society as the Beijing ceremony was for the Chinese. That is NOT an insult on OUR society.

          I prefer the tone, content and detail of OUR show anytime over a mass-synchronised but spectacular show seen four years ago. That is what was ineptly criticized, that is what I disagree with.

          • Eddie

            The British created the Olympics actually – the Much Wenl;ock games, which inspired the French Baron who created the internation Olympic committee.
            95% of the British empire was good and it gave way more than it took: it ended slavery, spread the rule of law, human rights, education, culture, language, literature and, in a word, civilisation.
            What you fail to do is put the British Empire in context: at the same time that the Brits were forcing others (in Africa, Asia, Europe, the US) to stop slavery, people in Africa and Asia were still eating people and shrinking heads! Other empires include the Zulu empires (Shaka killed 1.5 million people), the Jap empire (killed many chinese), the Ottaman empire (brutal and murderous – ask the Greeks), the Moghul empire in India (Muslim dictators who persecuted all non-Muslims) etc etc etc.
            The old white guiltt ‘wasn’t the British empire awful’ schtick is NOT one shared by intelligent persons in places like India who recognise that the British gave them so very much: in India’s case, the British empire created the country, its main language, its infrastructure, its modernity, its technology, and even its tea (because it’s the Brits who took tea there and made tea an everyday drink) – and also food (Chillies, potatoes and tomatoes are not native to India).
            In Africa – well, you either had brutal dictators of Brits ruling in the manner of their time. I know who I’d prefer to live under!
            YOu misunderstand Paxman too: his whole point is that we have been far too ready because of white colonial guilt to disparage the empire and be ashamed of it when in fact our empire was mostly a good thing and created the modern world. Imagine if the Germans, the Russians, the Japs, the Chinese, the Arabs, the Africans, the Indians had had such a large empire – would they have spread the rule of law and human rights? The British empire was the mopst benevolent in history and startlingly modern for its time: it created the modern world.

            • dalai guevara

              Touché mate, when comparing British with French or Belgian colonialism, we indeed see a difference in outcome. God knows what the Germans would have got up to if they were given a true chance…

              Nonetheless, it is evident that your point of view regarding British imperialist do-goodery is not shared by everyone. That is one reason why it did NOT feature in the opening ceremony of an international event.

              • Eddie

                I did not argue for it to be in the opening ceremony – but of course it wa there! Our industrial revolution was exported worldwide with the empire, with education, healthcare, language, literature, law – progress of all kinds, most of it good – ending slavery and giving the individual rights that no other culture was giving the lower orders. The British Empire created modern society not only in the UK but in the whole world (Western society that is, not Islamist dictatorships or Chinese fascist nationalistic empires).
                Now I know it has been trendy to diss the British Empire as a knee-jerk reaction – but really, looked at objectively, most of it was good – and of its time (so silly to condemn people who lived 200 years ago really).
                As the son of an immigrant myself, I think those immigrants and children of immigrants and natives in lands much improved (and indeed often created) by the British Empire tend to talk utter racist anti-British tosh (and yes, they say what they say because the Brits are white and they are racist, and anti-anyone not of their faith).
                An objective clinical examination of the british empire shows that mostly it was a good thing. Very many people in Asia and Africa know it too. I was only yesterday talking to the son of a Jamaican who said his dad wished Jamaica was still British – then maybe it wouldn’t be the corrupt crime-ridden drug-smuggling gun-ridden hell it is today. It is a very wrong assumption to make that all those in former colonies hate their former rulers (though political expedience means many have to punlicly take that stance and promote lies: eg that the jihadio uprising in 1857 was the first Indian war of independence! Ha! What utter tosh!)

                • dalai guevara

                  Jesus Christ Ed, the PURPOSE of British imperialism was not do-goodery but the political, social and untimately FINANCIAL EXPLOITATION of its colonies. SUCK THEM DRY was the motto.

                  Fine, slavery was abolished at one point – but before that sugar cane was brought to the Caribbean and UNBELIEVEABLE sacrifices were endured by a certain type of African traveller. The British Empire did that.

                  This is the objective clinical examination by the rest of the world. Just because we haven’t lost a war like the Germans and weren’t forced to think hard about it does not mean this was right.

                  But you have repeatedly proven to us that you are a plain mind with simple thoughts of delusion when you utter phrases like ‘Chinese fascism’ or ‘Empire given rights to lower orders’. What utter tosh.

                  Right, I am off now playing polo in the hood.

                • Eddie

                  WRONG – the purpose of the British Empire BECAME a deeply moral mission: to civilise the world, and spread enlightenment, rule of law, decency, Christianity (of the protestant individual type, not the catholic dictatorship kind). If you do not know that then you are ignorant.
                  And why so keen to diss ONLY the empires of the Brits and other nasty whities? READ SOME HISTORY – learn all about the brutal savage ways of African and Asian empires. Compared to them, any European empire was mild – and the British Empire was by far the most benevolent empire in history. Mostly it was a good thing, as all the black and asian people I know (successful, educated ones) realise. Sad pathetic loser criminal blacks and asians blame the British empire for the fact they go out mugging of course…
                  Like most hypocrites, you LOVE empires when they are run by black or brown people (and let usw NOT forget that these empires had slavery and profited from the slave trade until the British stopped it!).
                  YOU SAY: “but those with a conscience will recall countless atrocities within living memory of some.” – Yes, there have been very many brutal and savage dictatorships in Africa and Asia – the British empire’s time there seems rather like a blip of civilisation in a dark place really. And READ SOME HISTORY – then you will learn all about the brutal Zulu empire (Shaka alone killed 1.5 million) the blood-thirstly Islamic empires and the Moghuls etc.
                  The atrocities committed by the Britishw ere VERY few and far between – and were not a policy; rather the result of rogues officers. The policies in places like Kenya were justified entirely (why do morons like you suddenly turn all Mao-mao in that debate? If your wife and little children had been raped and butchered, dragged from under their beds, by savages, then maybe you would change your mind).
                  Idiots like you cannot put history in context: the British empire was extremely decent and tolerant by 19th century standards: it spread trhe banning of slavery and rule of law and human righst even before British men had the vote!
                  One thing being the son of an immigrant – and living in 3 different countries – has taught me (together witha first class education) is that the tradition of disparaging and being ashamed of the empire is very wrong. In fact it is racist – and you my little deluded leftie friend – are a racist. Why? Because you HATE all empires run by white people (even if they were a century ago) and you LOVE and IGNORE the many atrocities of all empires run by black or brown or Chinese persons: thuse you use different standards for different races (how very multicultural that is! No doubt you’d ignore honour killings of children too, as a teacher); ergo, you are a racist.
                  Under the British, if someone was accused of a crime he would have a trial and found innocent or guilty by a jury; under the Moghuls in India (Muslim dictators), or the despots and chiefs in Africa, he would just be killed (with his wife and children) or at best enslaved. The British also stopped many MANY brutal practices – burning widows to death, slavery, tied labour, rape, random executions. What would Africa and Asia be without British influence? Stuck in the dark ages, matey – READ SOME HISTORY, you twit!
                  Now empires are different: they are economic and we are soon perhaps to enter a dark age of Chinese nationalism and fascism – because the Chinese empire is utterly amoral; the British empire had a moral foundation 200 years ago and was based on the rule of law: that is the difference.
                  Your analogy of the British empire with the Nazis shows that your thinking is sloppy and your historical knowledge inaccurate – and your self-loathing parroted word for word from the Brit-hating white-despising Guardian. Good luck with your GCSEs – remember now, Mary Seacole invented the wheel. Got that? Good. Zzzzzz…..
                  Polo was of course a game invented by brutal Asiatics who used the heads of executed prisoners as a ball (the brits did not execute prisoners but put them on trial).

                • dalai guevara

                  Great rant mate, I must have hit a nerve ending or two.

                  Om, my friend…

                • Eddie

                  No rant from me – just simple and logical demolition of every single ill-argued stupid nonsensical bigoted predictable learned point in your whole tired rant.
                  Hit a nerve? Not in me – but maybe in your own cock (well you’re talking enough of it!)
                  Bye bye my uneducated little friend. Ask a grown-up to read you a bedtime story later – maybe Jeremy Paxman’s Empire or something by Nial Ferguson, so you can learn how very ignorant and stupid you are.
                  Or maybe you’ll watch the Olympics – which feature the major sports most of which were invented and exported worldwide by the British (those evil nasty persons you STUPIDLY think were not welcomes in the lands they improved and ABSURDLY compare to the nazis.)

                • dalai guevara

                  Are you still off on one?!?

                  Imperialists welcomed into the lands they improved? Seriously? When did the tiny bump in your pants come into it? Still such low self-esteem?

                  You should change your name to Jason Bourne ‘I was brainwashed, I killed people, I can’t remember properly, but now it’s all good.’

                  You are my hero!

                • Eddie

                  Imagine my little revisionist friend: you are an African savage waving a spear and oppressed by your chief who kills and rapes whoever he wants – your culture is brutal, stuck in the stone age (and you murder all disabled or half-caste babies, enslave people, and fight wars continually with other tribes).
                  Then, if you are lucky, a British ship turns up eager to trade – from which you can make money and get more resources, including wondroud Western technologies – and also give you the rule of law, education, healthcare etc. For this you have to dump your backwards ways (slavery, cannibalism, witchcraft, tribal wars).
                  Look at Africa and Asia: they have not rejected the history, language and learning that the colonialists gave them. They have in many cases in Africa rejected the rule of manmade law and tolerant decent culture and reverted to their barbaric tribal ways (Rwanda, Idi Amin, most African dictators).
                  You may well be amazed, because you have been brainwashed by the lies told as truth in the classroom and on TV, but yes, Africans and Asians wanted the superior Western nations to rule them because they knew on what side their bread was buttered – and the British empire was WAY preferable to the Moghuls or the brutal dictatorships and empires that had ruled Africa and Asia previously.
                  You make the fundamental mistake of judging people 200 years ago by modern standards – of course now it is not acceptable to go to another land and colonise it (except for Muslims and others coming to the UK, it seems…). But to condemnd them for that is absurd: in the same time and place you would have done the same thing – and do not assume our ways will be thought of as ‘right’ in another 100 years (when our overpopulation policies lead to mass starvations and apocalypse).
                  You seem to think the British empire was barbaric and did nothing but kill people. What utter tosh! You are SO IGNORANT!
                  And you say nothing bad about the empires of the brown-skinned peoples whom the British empire superceded: all brutal, cruel and barbaric. But hey, they were black and brown so that’s OK huh?
                  And I do have to tell you that a great many people from Asia and Africa (most, in private) will tell you that the British empire gave them way more then it took: stability, prosperity, rule of manmade law, education, training, infrastructure, healthcare, access to markets, access to travel for the brightest, and modern decent values and human rights.
                  The sad pathetic sink school system in the UK spews out thousands of ill-eduated retards like you every single year who know nothing but think they know everything because their Brit-hating politically correct disgrace of a leftwing loonie teacher had told them what to think.
                  I pity you: a life lived in such ignorance is worse then death.

                • dalai guevara

                  haters gotta hate
                  oooooomm, my friend!

                • Eddie

                  Yes, you do you Briti-hating anti-white racist.
                  Go sit on your Buddha and close your eyes to reality, my little deluded friend.
                  The only thing I hate is hypocritical, ignorant twerpps like you, who reside someowhere between the moral sewer and Toytown, as your oft-ranted fragile grasps of the facts of history displays.
                  Haters gotta hate? Yep, that’s why a great many Muslims hate Jews and white people; a great many blacks hate whites and Asians, and a great many Asians hate blacks and whites. Oh the joys of misplaced multiculturalism.
                  Come back when you 1) get an education which teaches facts not pc fantasy; and 2) when you grow up (and I do so hope you get mugged a good few times by the ethnics you romanticise so very pathetically in your inane posts).
                  YOu’ll learn…

                • dalai guevara
                • Alex Baldwin

                  People like this are afraid of the Modern, Multicultural, Olympic Britain. And they better get used to it, as Multicultural Britain is here to stay, and racism no longer has a place in British Society.

                • Ru

                  I don’t disagree with the thrust of your message, but a few interesting facts to add to the mix:
                  1) The sailors on slave ships had a higher death rate than the slaves
                  2) Britain faced very real financial difficulties sustaining the empire. It’s not really clear if they ever made a profit Many British people in the 19th century felt that the empire was placing too high a strain on tax payers and was the reason there was so much poverty in this country. Nor whether colonies were actually financially better or worse off as a result because of the huge investment in infrastructure.
                  3) money didn’t all flow into Britain, it and workers circulated around a huge global market.
                  4) most imperialists faced extremely harsh circumstances, one man might be responsible for thousands of square miles, often wracked by civil war and famine, these men were often in their early 20s, barely sleeping, feeling a huge weight of pressure and responsibility for the people they oversaw, a large number of them died of illness.
                  5) 52% of them were Scottish.

                • dalai guevara

                  Ru, fact 5 made me smile. I am glad someone is taking the edge off a heated conversation.

        • Just Bob

          Aye. We were so bad that the f*****s can’t stop coming over here to tell us all how bad we were.

  • Wilhelm

    The BBC is going out and out Full Bongo over the Olympics

    Multiculturalism and miscegenation, thanks but no thanks.

  • Nicholas

    Multiculturalism? What does it mean? It is just a stick with which the left beat the right. They think that only they represent it and beat the right with it because they think any other viewpoint is racism. Boyle’s ceremony wasn’t all stick and all beating but it was most definitely mounted on a leftist hobby horse. Don’t pretend that ceremony was anything to do with the British. It was all about socialism and the way socialists see themselves. It is always about socialism. Everything socialists see is seen through the prism of their socialism. Their lives are politicised. It’s why Blair believed his boast that New Labour represented “nothing less than” the political wing of the British people.

    Therefore any criticism of the ceremony, from aesthetic, or historical, or parametrical considerations is seen as an attack on the left. Ergo any who are critical are nasty, racist, right-wing Tories. Look at the silly tweets about it. And the left find triumphalism distasteful? Give me a break. Their whole creed is triumphalist all the time.

    It would be nice to think the left might grow out of this puerility but since they have been at it for so long, reinforcing failure after failure, creating divisiveness and hatred between classes and now between races and religions, blinkered, deaf to reason and oh, so pleased with themselves, I don’t think that is realistic.

  • MikeF

    No Davis’ question does not imply he sees a distinction between ‘multiethnic’ and ‘multicultural’ Britain. Quite the opposite. He very obviously thinks the words are synonymous and uses them sequentially as a way of reinforcing his intended rhetorical effect which is, as you correctly identify but won’t state explicitly, to make a sly, partisan political point or perhaps more accurately innuendo.

  • Eddie

    Exactly – it’s all about semantics, and the definition of ‘multiculturalism’ which is why I wish the word would fall out of usage.
    To say London is a cosmopolitan city is far better than saying it’s a multicultural one, because:
    1) people really are only talking skin colour mostly, and ethnicity, not culture (for there are very many cultures amongst the white population in terms of education, background, class, way of life etc);
    2) whenever anyone uses the word ‘multicultural’ they are, whether they like it or not, connecting what they say to the anti-integration pro-segregation pro-relativism pro-tolerance-of-intolerance ethos that says any immigrant can come to the UK and not adapt to our way of life at all, not learn our language or culture, and live is isolated islands of what are essentially colonialism within our cities. (This is the opposite of ‘when in Rome’ and the French was of doing things).
    That’s why using terms like multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan is better.
    And yes, there was some PC silliness in the Olympics opening ceremony – but if the BBC had been running it, it would have been far FAR worse (full of African drumming and Indian dancing as cornerstones of British culture, and probably a great big inflatable Mary Seacole to worship as well!) As it was, not even the inane and irrelevant commentary by rap DJ Trevor Nelson (who’s black y’know) could ruin the gig. 9/10 for Boyle and Daldry.

  • Eddie

    Exactly – it’s all about semantics, and the definition of ‘multiculturalism’ which is why I wish the word would fall out of usage.
    To say London is a cosmopolitan city is far better than saying it’s a multicultural one, because:
    1) people really are only talking skin colour mostly, and ethnicity, not culture (for there are very many cultures amongst the white population in terms of education, background, class, way of life etc);
    2) whenever anyone uses the word ‘multicultural’ they are, whether they like it or not, connecting what they say to the anti-integration pro-segregation pro-relativism pro-tolerance-of-intolerance ethos that says any immigrant can come to the UK and not adapt to our way of life at all, not learn our language or culture, and live is isolated islands of what are essentially colonialism within our cities. (This is the opposite of ‘when in Rome’ and the French was of doing things).
    That’s why using terms like multi-ethnic and cosmopolitan is better.
    And yes, there was some PC silliness in the Olympics opening ceremony – but if the BBC had been running it, it would have been far FAR worse (full of African drumming and Indian dancing as cornerstones of British culture, and probably a great big inflatable Mary Seacole to worship as well!) As it was, not even the inane and irrelevant commentary by rap DJ Trevor Nelson (who’s black y’know) could ruin the gig. 9/10 for Boyle and Daldry.

    • Eddie

      By the way, I’m the son of an immigrant too – and my father did not come to Britain because it was full of African drumming, Indian dancing and inner cities which now look like Lagos or Islamabad. We have been too tolerant, too ready to turn a blind eye in the interests of misplaced multiculturalism, and far too shy at telling immigrants that they have to change, adapt, integrate and accept our ways – or, frankly, sod off.
      We do a great disservice to both British people (and there is a very general native culture that is dominant and should be) and immigrants: for example, our tolerating girls wearing headscarves and even burkas to school means those girls have to do that – if we made it unacceptable in schools, then girls could make a stand against their Pakistani village home culture. Ditto with all backwards traditions. We should not tolerance the intolerant backwardness of immigrant cultures, and we should not be shy in demanding they conform and change to our way of doing things – we should not give them a choice here.
      There is one main culture in Britain: modern, tolerant culture as determined by centuries of struggle and legal process. We muct not surrender that out of some sort of white guilt misplaced multiculturalism which seems to ignore any bigotry, racism, brutality and law-breaking if it exists in a community of brown-skinned persons who follow a religion.

      • MikeF

        Quite right Eddie. There is nothing wrong with ‘multiculturalism’ if it is just that – in other words if it is about culture in the broadest sense of the term e.g. food or music. I am not in the slightest bit bothered by, say, people whose origins are in India preferring curry to fish and chips or if they speak Urdu to each other at home. Indeed when such things as ‘ethnic’ food are intoduced to mainstream life they can make it more varied and enjoyable for a lot of other people. There is nothing wrong with that.
        It is when the term is used as a figleaf to condone or even encourage the creation of segregated communities with fundamental values – e.g. tolerance of female genital mutilation – that are utterly inimical to what most people would regard as basic human decency that the line has to be drawn and ‘multiculturalism’ condemned without reservation. But the fact is that the left has made the term into something totemistic – an idol that has to be worshipped – any questioning of which is condemned as ‘racist’.
        They have done so, moreover, for reasons that are nothing to do with the ‘rights’ of ethnic or any other minorities. The aim is to create a factionalised society in which any notion of values that transcend minority sensibilities is negated. That way the concept of democracy is negated and that is what, ultimately, the ideology – as opposed merely to the lived experience – of multiculturalism is really about. I think Mr Massie does know that but, frankly, he is too afraid to say so.

        • Eddie

          It is the same worshippers of multiculturalism who, ever so ironically, are so keen to celebrate mono-culturalism elsewhere, especially Asia and Africa, of course, and to see any influence of any non-native (ie white) culture there as being negative and to be condemned: thus their inconsistency never ceases to startle to such an extent that one wonders if they are too thick and deluded to see the double standard. So ready to condemn whites in Africa and say they can never be Africa; so eager to label any African who lands at Heathrow as ‘British’. (it is IMHO impossible to be British if you come here – my father was not British, for example, despite spending most of his life in Britain and never claimed to be so)
          I have known Asians or Africans tell others ‘this is a multicultural society now’ – meaning that ‘we can do what we want here now’ and you whities cannot stop us. What should be happening is that these immigrants communities should be integrating into British culture – even though they can have their food and religion and language at home.
          Sadly, the mad multiculturalism of recent decades (as rolled out by Roy Jenkins I believe – who assumed oh-so-wrongly that the children of immigrants would be proud to be British and be fully integrated – they never expected 7/7 and 15% of British Muslims saying it was a good thing in surveys!)
          And then there is the rewriting history agenda: the argument that Britain had no culture until immigrants brought it here – which in turn is justification for more and more immigration.
          No country is more or less a country of immigrants than Britain – and that includes countries in Asia and Africa actually (one can research movements of populations using DNA testing fairly easily).

  • Mr Grumpy

    Mr Massie, your Danny Boyle quote is straight out of a Tony Blair conference speech from the mid-90s. I wouldn’t expect anything more than feelgood guff in the context, but I find your ability to detect muscularity in it somewhat worrying.
    Who, for instance, dreams of “universal communication”? Did Twitter pay him to write this? If it means anything at all it sounds positively hellish, and certainly at odds with the diversity creed. To be genuinely different is to be mutually mysterious.

    • Alex Massie

      Grumpy: Well, Lord Reith’s view was that “Nation shall speak peace unto nation” so I think there’s some precedent for Danny Boyle’s views on this matter too. And, of course, a very British precedent.

      • Mr Grumpy

        If that’s what he meant why didn’t he say so? And by the way, are you really that much into the “joyous energy of popular culture”?

      • Mr Grumpy

        PPS I see that the BBC dropped Reith’s motto in 1934, perhaps already anticipating its role as an organ of wartime propaganda. Evidently nothing much changes as far as the trustworthiness of mission statements is concerned.

    • Alex Massie

      Grumpy: Well, Lord Reith’s view was that “Nation shall speak peace unto nation” so I think there’s some precedent for Danny Boyle’s views on this matter too. And, of course, a very British precedent.

  • Span Ows

    Yep, I agree. I have had to wind my neck in a bit after moaning so much about the leftie bits that I missed the fact that there were many more good bits!

  • Sabina Ahmed

    Absolutely, the best summary of the opening ceremony as well as multi culture ,I have read so far.

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