The gloriously eccentric, eccentrically British, Olympic opening ceremony of 2012 allowed us a one off opportunity to celebrate the best of our country on a scale we would never normally entertain.
We know that British history is not a fairy tale. We are not fooled by faceless displays of military might. You can’t roll out tanks and expect the British to think that’s the best parade ever.
Some guy in a glass box turning his nose up at breakfast, lunch, and dinner? But he doesn’t do anything else? No jokes? No songs? At least a tap dance and a smile! Have an egg, mate. And another. Get a load of that.
For all the majesty of the 2012 ceremony, we had to have a gentle poke at our institutions too, or at least get them to tell a few jokes and jump out of a plane or something.
If you wanted to know why four to twelve thousand thousand people will be meeting up outside Downing Street and in Trafalgar Square this afternoon, think of that ceremony without an NHS we provide for ourselves.
[Update: 150,000 people attended the protests! This was scantily reported by the BBC]
Think of it without pianos in the houses of the less well off. That isn’t hard to do. Think of it without houses for the poor at all. Think of it with less guitars. Imagine ordinary people can’t afford things like that. Yeah, think of Britain without Paul McCartney, without The Beatles, and without the uniqueness of modern British music.
Not so great, is it?
Today, we stand up especially for two core British values. Fairness, and supporting the underdog. This government has imposed the harshest measures upon the most vulnerable. The ‘bedroom tax’, an attempt and further plans to cut disabilty benefits by £30 a week, and unfair assessments which have seen in a three year period 2380 people die within two weeks of being declared fit for work. The Government has not collected the figures on how many of those people died from lack of electricity, food, medicines. Nor has it recorded how many were so desperate, not getting the help they needed, they took their own lives.
In 2012, instead of the Olympic opening ceremony, think of a cold flat and a suicidal disabled person, perhaps with a serious mental health condition.
The United Nations Declaration of Human Rights (1948) was motivated by the desire to protect people from the awful things the Nazis had just done. The British Government are under investigation by the UN for their treatment of disabled people.
There are unnecessary cuts that affect all of us. An intention to bring the private sector into every school despite evidence and expert opinion that this is not at all the correct thing to do. There is a secretive trade deal being negotiated that is intended to open up Britain further for American feeding in several ways, such as giving their companies the right to tender for NHS services and even the right to sue British Governments.
Meanwhile, the rich are allowed to bypass UK law altogether.
It’s all clearly unfair and if we don’t do something about these injustices, it will only get worse. I will be joining today’s protests. I feel it is the patriotic thing to do.
The People’s Assembly against Austerity meets at 1pm Euston Road/Gower Street.
Lead photo: Matt Lancashire