Danny Boyle's Britain is being dismantled brick by brick
Why the Tory MP who hated Boyle's 'leftie multicultural crap' has nothing to worry about
ON THE strength of Friday night's Olympic opening ceremony, I think it's fair to describe Danny Boyle as a 'progressive patriot'. The working-class son of a school dinner lady and a self-educated farm labourer, his patriotism is about pride in Britain's industrial achievements, its welfare state and its tolerance towards minorities.
But the sad truth is that the Britain Danny Boyle was celebrating in some of the most memorable scenes on Friday is either finished or very close to being finished. We've lost our industrial base, the NHS and welfare state are being dismantled before our very eyes and even multiculturalism is under threat.
Take de-industrialisation. In the country that was once 'The Workshop of the World', manufacturing accounts for only around 12 per cent of our national output.
Isambard Kingdom Brunel, played in Friday's ceremony by Kenneth Branagh, would be turning in his grave to see how little British industry remains – and how much of that which does is now under foreign ownership.
Then there's the NHS. The impact of the government's Health and Social Care Act, which passed earlier this year, hasn't hit home yet because of the time delay for the changes to take effect. But the reforms, which effectively introduce a 'market' in health care and open the door for private companies to provide NHS services, means the end of the NHS in all but name.
"Privatisation is an inevitable consequence of many of the policies contained in the Health and Social Care Bill," says Clive Peedell, co-chairman of the NHS Consultants' Association, writing in the British Medical Journal. "The coalition government's repeated denials of NHS privatisation do not stand up to scrutiny. The public is being misinformed about the consequences of the Health and Social Care Bill."
Multiculturalism - the belief that immigrants to Britain should be free to live their lives as they best see fit - is under attack too. In a speech in Germany last year, David Cameron declared: "Under the doctrine of state multiculturalism we've encouraged different cultures to live separate lives apart from each other and apart from the mainstream."
The Prime Minister singled out British Muslims in his speech, leading Inayat Bunglawala of Muslims4UK to accuse him of taking a "patronising attitude towards UK Muslims".
It's hard to see why the Prime Minister is so concerned with Muslims: a 2012 study showed that UK Muslims feel that being British is more important to them than it is to whites. "Our research shows that people we might assume would feel very British, in fact do not - while others who we might assume would not associate themselves with feelings of Britishness, in fact do," Dr Alita Nandi, of the University of Essex, said.
Aidan Burley, the Conservative MP who in tweets on Friday night branded the ceremony "leftie, multicultural crap", needn't be so worried - Boyle's Britain is on the way out. In the place of a country which makes things, which provides a state-run health care system for all its citizens and which respects the rights of people to be different, we have the deadening, standardising force of neo-liberal globalisation – threatening to wipe out everything we recognise and like about our country.
If we had wanted the history of Britain to be brought up to date in Friday's ceremony, it should really have ended with a group of City bankers and traders coming on, waving wads of money and glaring arrogantly at the cameras. These are the people who call all the shots in the neo-liberal Britain of today: not engineers like Isambard Kingdom Brunel, not dedicated NHS professionals, nor the heroic people in overalls who Boyle depicted in his staged scenes on Friday.