One of the minor, but depressing, changes to our society is that since Brexit, and the cultural and media zeitgeist got sucked into a political chaos-loop there is no part of national celebration that the zealots and partisans can’t ram their agenda through.
Last week Dawn Foster, outrider for Jeremy Corbyn, criticised ‘centrists’ for basing their entire ideology on the ‘false premise … that the 2012 London Olympic ceremony represented an idyllic high-point of culture and unity in the UK, rather than occurring amid the brutal onslaught of austerity.’ I don’t know if I’m a centrist, but I do know that I am capable of watching a show for what it is, without ruining it for the person sat next to me by complaining ‘yes, but what really matter is…’
This week we see Rees-Mogg and Farage shoehorn their agenda into the Cricket World Cup final. Quite apart from the lack of intellectual merit to the argument that a celebration of the world coming together in London, or a team that enjoyed the fruits of a team captained and led by immigrants, it’s just profoundly depressing that neither the extreme left or right can leave alone these moments of national teams coming together to be more than the sum of their parts to represent what Brits can do at their best, without turning to a quick 1,000 words on how this proves exactly what they always believed.
While they moaned and whined, Stormzy (who we have written about here) continued his hot streak by once again letting his actions speak louder than his words. The PR stunt of the young black champion of British music waving the chequered flag at the home of British racing as the greatest British sportsman of his generation, another black man, roared across the finish line to become the most successful British racer of all time. If it hadn’t been for the simultaneous freak joy of both England winning the Cricket World Cup and a thrilling Wimbledon men’s final – this could have been the image of the weekend.
Those cricketers, just like Stormzy, represent the future that we must hope for of Britain. Talented young people, who have worked their way to the top from every part of British society, now represent new symbols of a changing country. A team whose captain, lead batter, fastest bowler, leading all-rounder and best spinner were all migrants. This is the salve to the incessant, mind-numbing outrage that spills out of the Aaron Bastanis, Katie Hopkins, Stephen Christopher Yaxley-Lennons (stage name Tommy Robinson) and Dawn Fosters.
Let these anger-merchants pander for a generation long past their best. A generation who were raised on a diet of films about a war they never saw and try to take credit for a sacrifice they never knew, as they enjoyed and bankrupted a generous welfare state and a bountiful environment, are a powerful but fading breed. As Britain realigns itself with a new generation who understand that the only way you solve global peril is with global politics, and who care more for climate catastrophe than TV license fees, these new heroes can (with careful management) go on to become beacons of hope and possibility – and done correctly, that can be extremely lucrative.
In the meantime, these political zealots should take this advice from the paragon of their profession. Winston Churchill once said that ‘a fanatic is one who can’t change his mind and won’t change the subject’. Well, let’s hope that they can leave the joyous, extraordinary and humbling nature of sheer sporting glory out of their boring, dreary, dull mutterings.