Friday, 27 July 2012

A Little incident; the beginning of the end for “Team GB’.

Kim Little is a good point to focus a discussion about the issue around National Anthems; although she was not the only one involved, she serves as a case in point.

Quite rightly, she refused to sing what is recognised in these islands as England’s national anthem. She was firm in her refusal to participate although the British Olympic Committee had reportedly issued an edict that all athletes should learn it.

Let us consider the fact that there’s an English national anthem. That National anthem is “God save the Queen”. Also let’s consider that this anthem has never been formally adopted, like the Union flag, by either act of parliament or royal proclamation.

It has a verse, disused through “national sensitivities”, yet it has never been officially changed. It remains England’s national anthem; it is seldom sung in modern times in Scotland or Wales. Each nation has songs of its own that it prefers to use in various circumstances.

That unsung verse goes something like this.

Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King/Queen.

The GB Olympics team organizers have traditionally adopted the English anthem as the GB Olympic team anthem. Surely this denigrates the history, allegiance and pride in heritage that athletes not from England might have.

Sebastian Coe, in large part an individual who has been credited with driving these games towards their massively overspent conclusion was said to have been “furious”.

Fatima Whitbread launched into the debate with comments based in the fact that athletes competing for Team GB should conform and sing/respect that anthem when asked.

Mr. Coe, Ms. Whitbread and others would do well to recall that these athletes have an inbuilt right of protest in any arena in which they are required to compete under a GB banner. These athletes had no choice; they were refused the ability to compete for their own nations.

The only really surprising thing about the entire debacle is that it has taken so long to surface, but like the small crack in the dam, it is without doubt only the smallest inkling of what is to come.

How long will it be, one wonders, before an athlete, Welsh, Scottish or Northern Irish becomes a medal recipient but refuses to take the podium because of their belief in the abominable history behind a song the London establishment would have us believe is an “official” anthem.

That day will mark a turning point indeed, for although we don’t expect it at these Olympics, who can say it will not happen.

The feats will stand attributed to the individual, for that can never be taken away. The ruckus that follows will fall squarely at the feet of the “British” establishment and the crown.

Such a public display from individuals such as Kim Little, Ryan Giggs and the others who will not recognise this song is but a prelude of what is to come. The public humiliation which the establishment will have to bear will know few bounds when that athlete refuses to take the podium, for it will signal most publically to the world at large that we are not one country.

It will herald to the billions of onlookers that we are four nations welded by the will and subterfuge of Westminster and its “British” associations, and it will tell them in so public a fashion that we are not what they wish, that we are independent peoples of proud nations who have been forced into a Union over which our individual constituents had neither consultation over, nor input.

It will highlight that Wales was a conquered land and that Scots were rioting and rebelling for years after the Union treaty. It will demonstrate it is and has always been, an uneasy alliance.

And it will effectively reduce or prohibit Scots and Welsh from participating in any “Team GB”. They will have little chance of being selected, without swearing allegiance first to everything the “UK” stands for.

Some may so swear, under duress, simply to compete, but when the first such recovers their principles on the podium, or after at the press conference – what then for the selection committees?

“Team GB” will not do what it needs to do, in its myriad guises. It will not divide itself and strengthen the opportunities of the individuals within these nations to compete for their own country. It will not allow two, or three or four qualifiers from Scotland, Wales, England or Northern Ireland to each compete. This would have given a situation where Chris Hoy could have defended ALL his gold medals.

Instead Team GB will do as it has always done, and it will set itself up for the ultimate embarrassment that will be delivered by athlete with principles and belief.

In either case, following the breach in the dam at the 2012 London, no - not even British, or UK Olympics, there is no way back.

For the various “Team GB’s” who are not founded on a basis like the “Lions” but are force welded without the benefit of existing national teams there is only one path forward.

They will fragment, it will be up to history to record, decades hence, whether the decent was honourable retrenchment or simply transpired as a result of public embarrassment and ridicule.


  1. omg kim is Katniss!!!

    She refuses to play the games the way the capitol wants her too, this little act of rebellion could bring the whole thing crashing down.

    The capitol (london) needs all the outlying districts (regions) to keep it in the manner they are accustomed. Obviously the career districts (home counties) loyal to the capitol wont revolt yet but those starved and kept in poverty will.

    They try keep us poor, starving and uneducated so we wont realise that without us the capitol is nothing! Make us believe WE need THEM when infact it is the other way round. The capitol (london) is the most subsidised place in the UK. (yeah i've been re reading the hunger games sorry....)

  2. Good article Hazel. This is one Rebellious Scot who would never sing their Bloody anthem. I went to Tesco today and it was full of team gb Crap. I think it will all be still sitting on the shelves in a fortnights time. Long live Scotland. Free in my lifetime.

  3. going by my twitter feed there have been plenty of gaffs made by the commentators saying England rather than GB, i dont know how true it is tho as i have zero interest in the london olympics

  4. I think this shows up the establishment mindset that Scotland is not a country or nation in its own right and that is in fact a possession of the establishment and when one of the little servant slaves rebels and doesn't do what the establishment want them to do, they get confused and growl. I actually think that what Margo McDonald said on the last big debate is becoming true; that the mass body of opinion in England is waking up and doesn't like what it sees. It's a sort of "what gives these bloody Scots the right" moment. Many posts from English folk have been in that vein today. I would never be seen as anti-English because that's not what my cause is about but I'm not so sure about feelings towards Scotland from certain quarters and in a population that are becoming more aware of "little Scotland" flexing its right to self determination.

  5. I suppose one of the ways they can show their annoyance at the playing of the English National anthem is to turn their back on the cameras while standing on the podium. That act of defiance alone will make the world's commentators ask what is going on in team GB. I remember the USA black athletes, in the 70s?, who showed respect for their own national anthem but stood silent with head bowed and fist raised high.

  6. It should be pointed out to the critical politicians and media that competitors, as the name suggests, attend the games to compete and not to sing songs that are completely meaningless and well-past their sell-by dates in any case.

  7. Really good piece and I do hope that it is a truism that once an idea has been let loose it can only grow,Scotland will be independent again,it can no longer be held back,maybe not now but sooner rather than later.We must apply to join the Olympic co0mmittee as an individual nation and do it from Holyrood or the Scottish Athletic Association.I think it would be looked upon with favour.

  8. Hazel,

    I will be there on Tuesday to support Kim, I will join her in my disrespect for "their" anthem. Of note we are unable to easily serve in the Armed Forces at home, my disdain is already known amongst the starred gentlemen that are managing the decline of a former World power.

  9. Team GB doesn't represent the UK. It isn't a team for that state. Various Crown Dependencies are included in it, and those from Northern Ireland can effectively choose whether to try for a place in the GB or Irish teams.

    Like the UK, Team GB is a historical accident.