Britology Watch: Deconstructing \’British Values\’

9 November 2007

Scotland gets the ‘our country’ treatment: Glasgow wins the Commonwealth Games for Britain!

Did you hear GB’s [Gordon Brown’s] words of congratulations to Glasgow for winning the right to host the 2014 Commonwealth Games? He started off by saying it would be a ‘great sporting decade for our country’. As you do, I wondered for a second which country GB was referring to: ‘does he actually mean Scotland, for once, and is owning up to the fact that his country really is Scotland – just using the royal “we”?’.

But then he clarified that he meant Britain, with words to the effect that the Commonwealth Games would come on top of the 2012 Olympics, while England [yes, I’m sure my ears didn’t deceive me and he actually said the word!] was bidding for the 2015 Rugby World Cup, and England [YES!! Am I hallucinating but did he say the ‘E’ word twice in succession?!] was also bidding for the 2018 Football World Cup.

Then the really hilarious bit came at the end (I think I’m quoting reasonably accurately): “What better sporting decade could there be for our country – the whole of Great Britain?”. Obviously aware that he’d lumped a sporting triumph for Scotland in with a UK Olympics and two potential World Cups in England under the same ‘our country’, he felt he had to remove the confusion and spell out that by ‘our country’ he meant ‘Great Britain’. [It’s actually the UK, GB.] The contortions the man had to go through almost made me feel sorry for him, for just a moment. Until the laughter took over!

Sorry, Scotland, but your success is really a triumph for ‘our country’: Great Britain. Now you know what it feels like! How much more straightforward and unambiguous was Alex Salmond’s use of the phrase ‘our country’ in the wake of Glasgow’s success: “We will make these games the greatest sporting event our country has ever seen. . . . The schools across our country have been watching this and I think that it will be a moment of inspiration for that generation that looks forward to the 2014 Games”. No doubt about which country the First Minister is referring to when he says ‘our country’. Not so the Prime Minister who couldn’t even own up to feeling a bit of patriotic pride at his country’s – Scotland’s – success by speaking his country’s name. At least, he had the decency this time to utter the ‘E’ word – twice – when referring to our World Cup bids. Perhaps the message is finally beginning to get through? We can but hope.

By the way, congratulations Scotland; you deserve it and I’m sure it’ll be a great Games. So you’re planning on sticking around in the Commonwealth till at least 2014 then?

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