Team GB: Britain’s careless inattention to its own edges?

I hate to say it, because spectacle is no really my thing, but last night’s opening ceremony was impressive. At a quick reckoning, I think it is the first live one I’ve seen since Munich in 1972. I think what Danny Boyle got right, was the narrative thread (and a set that must have cost an absolute bomb… Best write up I’ve seen so far, is this from the NYT:

…a wild jumble of the celebratory and the fanciful; the conventional and the eccentric; and the frankly off-the-wall, Britain presented itself to the world Friday night as something it has often struggled to express even to itself: a nation secure in its own post-empire identity, whatever that actually is.

I could hardly agree more. But come here! What’s all this nonsense about Team GB? I’ve no innate or personal political objection to its use, but it is, as Norman Davies might put it, a simplifactuer par excellence.

It’s NOT Great Britain lads! That IS the old imperial term and it displays carelessness that speaks poorly of the centre’s inattention to the edge.


  • ayeYerMa

    and also:

    Olympic Charter rule 29.5 “The area of jurisdiction of an NOC must coincide with the limits of the country in which
    it is established and has its headquarters.”

  • Tomas Gorman

    “Rather than a rendition of Danny Boy, perhaps Northern Ireland would have been better represented some turnip-headed farmer with a face like a smacked arse, screaming “no surrender” into a camera. A glimpse of the real Northern Ireland.”


    Tea literally flew out of my nostrils. I nearly drowned but the funny was worth it. Funny cus it’s true.

  • HeinzGuderian

    “Rather than a rendition of Danny Boy, perhaps Northern Ireland would have been better represented some turnip-headed farmer with a face like a smacked arse, screaming “no surrender” into a camera. A glimpse of the real Northern Ireland.”

    Or perhaps a mother of 10,being dragged away to her torture and death ?

    As it is,it looks like yet another clean sweep for the nat/rep Whinge Fest Team 😉

  • I am unable to read previous comments by clicking the “older comments” link.

    Could it be that there is some bug on this website?

  • The Lodger


    It would seem that when it suits him SK sees Northern Ireland as being a 100% unionist entity. The fact that he has given an accurate description of a typical south Armagh or Tyrone republican appears to have skipped him by.

  • HeinzGuderian

    Indeed Lodger……indeed !!

  • Mister_Joe


    A number of people have had that problem. One solution seems to be to logout and then logon again.

  • Alan N/Ards


    “If there was an idependant united Ireland tomorrow, then unionist people would clearly have to get an irish passport to be a citizen of that new state”

    I would say that you have that wrong. There are thousands of people, born in and still living in NI who choose not to have a British passport which is their right. They are full citizens of the UK. I have friends who live and work in the republic and they do not have an irish passport but they do have British passports. If there was a UI tomorrow, which is just the same old, same old anti unionist state as in the past, my wife, children and I will be happy and proud to travel on our British passports.

  • Tomas Gorman

    “Or perhaps a mother of 10,being dragged away to her torture and death ?”

    Well whatever you find humorous Heinz.

  • Republic of Connaught


    And no one would stop you having your British passport.

    But you would still also need the new Irish passport to compete for Ireland at the Olympics.

    And if you were abroad and wanted to avail of the overseas embassies of the new Ireland state, you would also need a valid passport of the state. Or you could keep using the British embassies if you preferred.

  • terence patrick hewett

    To give it its correct name, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The “Great” in Great Britain does not refer to the level of its magnificence but to the measure of its geographical magnitude. It refers to the result of the union of the Kingdom of England (which included Wales) and the Kingdom of Scotland in 1707; that is; it is a greater rather than a lesser Britain. The state of Great Britain is confused in many minds with that of England (and indeed was so used in the past) and also that of the United Kingdom; neither is synonymous. The United Kingdom was formed by the inclusion of the Kingdom of Ireland by the Act of Union 1800; then in 1922 with the creation of the Irish Free State, became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Whatever form of words we use, it upsets somebody and lands us in the soup.

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    You completely misunderstand. You said:
    “I understand why a northern Unionist might take issue with people opting to identify as Irish citizens.”
    No I don’t – I just pointed out it’s an unusual form of citizenship, because they live in another country and it falls short of the full citizenship people in the Republic enjoy, for obvious practical reasons.

    “That uniquely Ulster blend of vindictiveness and insecurity prompts folks like yourself to ram “Britishness” down as many throats as possible. I get that.”
    I’m not ramming Britishness down anyone’s throat and I’m not sure where you got that from. I don’t expect people from an Irish Catholic background in NI to necessarily feel British, though many do feel some affinity with the country. I very much see NI as a place that contains people of two main different national allegiances and I have no desire for one to prosyletise the other – quite the opposite. I think the idea of trying to convert someone else to your nationality is as arrogant as it is pointless. You might also like to reflect on why you are making generalisations about Ulster people being somehow “vindictive” and “insecure”, which again borders on the sectarian.

    “I would ask though- if you have no intention of respecting the nationality of others, then why should they bother their arses recognising yours?”
    Well, I do respect the nationality of others and if you’re not recognising mine, that doesn’t reflect so well on you. As the Good Friday Agreement points out, it is our birthright not only to self-identify as British but also to *be accepted* as British.

    If you come at people aggressively you’ll get a defensive response. Try a friendlier approach and you might be surprised what we’re actually like. I don’t expect people from the Republic or indeed the rest of the UK to get Northern Ireland quickly, it is a big learning curve. But don’t give up 😉

  • Mainland Ulsterman

    I think you mean the HK example was correct – I said: “… people in pre-97 Hong Kong were allowed to be British passport holders but those passports did not grant them full UK citizenship rights” – but that the Irish passport is different because it does not state the difference in rights on the face of it. My point though was that passports do not represent irrefutable evidence of full and identical rights to all who hold them; the nature of citizenship rights depends upon (inter alia) where a person lives. Citizenship means something different depending on where someone attempts to exercise their rights. So in many countries, if I’m not resident in the country, I may not have the right to vote, or stand for political office or do various other things. Irish citizenship for NI residents is for practical reasons of a different nature to the citizenship enjoyed in the Republic, though it has the same name. Though of course such a citizen could move to the Republic and fully exercise their rights there. But then any EU citizen could do pretty much the same thing.

    You could argue the full Irish citizenship rights are there for NI Irish citizens, but are merely held in abeyance. But if a right is not exercisable in the territory in which it is held, is it a right in the true sense in that place? Surely not.

    But to be conciliatory, can I quote that august legal resource Wikipedia. “Citizenship is seen by most scholars as culture-specific, in the sense that the meaning of the term varies considerably from culture to culture, and over time. How citizenship is understood depends on the person making the determination. The relation of citizenship has never been fixed or static, but constantly changes within each society.” So perhaps in short we can both hold onto our views of whether Irish citizenship in NI is really full citizenship, properly so-called.

    The more important point is that respect for Irish cultural identity and rights in NI does not depend on the nature of the legal relationship between Irish people in NI and the Republic’s state. And once again, I have no issue with Irish people in NI representing their preferred country, the Republic of Ireland, at the Olympics and not the UK. We don’t want or need to drag people unwillingly into Team GB, to be frank, we have 60 odd million to choose from and we’re doing OK.