Ben Gummer’s latest missive to the
Ipswich Star (not on Star website but is available here
) was not his finest hour. I cede to no one in my admiration for
Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony, which was frankly the best artistic production I have ever seen. It was, and this is not too strong a word, a masterpiece and he should be duly honoured by Her Majesty for this service to his country.
I won’t bang on about the Opening Ceremony too much (I have written a full review here
) but I do have to take umbrage with the MP for Ipswich, who could only say the most obvious thing any politician would say – post-Aidan Burley tweet
– about the ceremony, choosing deliberately to concentrate on the last third of the show:
“..what came through clearly was the pride we have in the diversity of our country – both in our different nations and in the multiplicity of the people who call themselves British and name Britain their home.”
Really, is that the best a Cambridge double-starred first historian could say about the three-hour spectacular tour of British history and the massive contribution we have made to the world?
How could historian Mr Gummer not say anything about Isambard Kingdom Brunel and Boyle’s genius depiction of the Industrial Revolution, which brought mechanisation and great wealth to Britain and then the rest of the world? How, with the biggest research and development centre in Europe
on Ipswich’s doorstep, could Ipswich’s MP not mention that the Opening Ceremony celebrated how the World Wide Web was invented by a Brit, with Sir Tim Berners-Lee taking a bow in the Olympics Stadium and to the one billion people watching world-wide?
Yes, the Olympic Games were about sport but to brush aside the extraordinary geopolitical event, which London 2012 was, is at best naive and at worst very cynical (if he thinks Ipswich people don’t get politics!).
Mr Gummer says:
“These Olympics have not so much celebrated the Olympic movement, or Britain, or buildings, but pure competitive endeavour, which is what it should all be about.”
You are kidding, Mr Gummer? Equestrian was deliberately moved by Lord Coe – a politician of the grandest order if there ever was one – from Windsor Great Park (a perfect natural habitat) with a shack called Windsor Castle as a backdrop to Greenwich Park in built-up South London. Why? Because it offered a superb backdrop of the economic powerhouse of Great Britain across the river: the skyscrapers of Canary Wharf, with television pictures beamed across the globe. Now that’s soft political power or hard political power, whichever it is.
I am disappointed in Ben Gummer for segwaying in his piece from stock praise – rightly – for the diversity we have in the UK to racism. That is the classic rhetoric of the Left. Mr Gummer wrote the below when describing a dispute in a restaurant between a customer and a waiter over the bill (something which takes place thousands of times up and down the country every day):
“Frankly, I doubt that they [the customer] would have behaved like that had the waiter been white. So we butted in and suggested they be more polite.
Speaking to the waiter afterwards, he said that although he was born and bred in Britain, worked hard in Britain and contributed to Britain, the way some people treated him made him doubt whether everyone accepted that fact. He was making a subtle point and we all knew what he meant.
How sad that should still be the case. We should take Danny Boyle’s idyll as an injunction as much as a pat on the back.”
Ben Gummer really should have taken a step back before writing this. It is quite possible that the disagreement the customer had about their bill would have still taken place if the waiter was white. Unpleasant people can be unpleasant regardless of race: some people just don’t know how to behave respectfully to people of the same or different colour. Perhaps, Mr Gummer should remember this before he starts firing off allegations of racism?
If Mr Gummer’s final paragraph in his article was an attempt to link the legitimate opinions many have on multiculturalism (including Prime minister David Cameron
) and diversity with a non-subtle allegation of racism then this is quite disturbing to hear from a a representative in Her Majesty’s Parliament. This only serves to stir up tensions and is divisive and those in positions of influence should steer clear of such rhetoric.
My wife and I had a wonderful time when we visited the Games to watch the Mens’ Trampoline: we were all mixing together – irrespective of nationality, race or creed – and helping each other out as we navigated through the transport system, security and the Olympic arena. The London 2012 Olympic Games were such a positive and inspiring time and it’s a shame the MP for Ipswich has used his article to put a negative gloss on this once-in-a-lifetime event.
Mr Gummer should not let his left-wing prejudices cloud his highly intelligent mind like this. And if they do, he should not write them down. We all have off days and I am sure the Ben Gummer I selected back in 2007 will resume normal service again soon.
IT professional; political blogger, former Conservative councillor
August 16, 2012 at 8:43 pm
I find myself in the strange position of defending a Tory MP.I think Mr Gummer highlighted an important issue.I`m born and bred in england and refer to myself as made in the UK from parts imported from overseas.I proud to be British and am also proud of my jamaican heritage but that does not make me any less british then the next man (for the record i do not support the west Indies in cricket)As i`ve mentioned on many occasions I`ve been subjected to some pretty horrendous racial abuse.From being stabbed,spat on,aattacked with a baseball bat and many other instances.My point is as the waiter commented there is a small section of society that will never accept you as british because of the way you look.\No matter what contribution you make there are some small minded people who can still not accept that you are british.Thankfully this group is much smaller in size then what i faced.And hopefully My son will be spared some of the issues I faced,hopefully his cousin who is also mixed race and right now serving his country in Afghanistan will be seen as the proud english man he is.I think Mr Gummer was right to mention this and its not being divisive its highlighting something that should not be swept under the carpet in the hope it will go away.