Yesterday I predicted that it would be a "politically correct propaganda-fest" and it did indeed turn out to be something like that at times. If all you knew about Britain came from watching the opening ceremony, you would imagine that at least 40% of the British population were ethnic minorities and another 10% were in wheelchairs. A tribute was paid to CND. Perhaps the most politically contentious part involved the National Health Service which was portrayed—as per liberal left orthodoxy—as the envy of the world. The audience was treated to the sight of dozens of happy children being treated in lovely, clean, MRSA-free hospital beds by attentive and caring nurses. Suddenly, apropos very little, sinister figures in black appeared and attacked the children. (Something to do with Harry Potter. I don't know what they're called. I haven't seen the films or read the books. I'm not ten years old). A hoard of Mary Poppins saved them from the evil intruders. It was that kind of show.
It has been suggested that this was a none-too-subtle allegory for the NHS reforms which the evil Tories are trying to introduce. Within minutes, the following graphic was circulating on Twitter (the words 'NHS' which were beamed up from the stadium during the ceremony—to the bemusement of most of the world, presumably)...
Speaking of Twitter, a Conservative MP called Aidan Burley sparked a 'twitch-hunt' when he described the whole thing as "the most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen" in a tweet that was retweeted more than 2,300 times.
As is the way in the playground of social media, this unleashed a firestorm from, well, "lefties" who are now hoping for an apology/resignation.
Are they right to do so? It seems to me that all that is required to expose Mr Burley as a liar or fantasist is for his accusers to provide an example of an opening ceremony that was more "leftie". Perhaps they are able to give countless examples, but I can't think of a single one. My memory might be letting me down, but I don't recall anything from the Beijing opening ceremony that could be construed as political. Perhaps the Moscow Olympics of 1980 made overt references to Marxism. I don't know, but we are going back quite some years even then and it is for Burley's accusers to demonstrate it if so.
From my limited experience of watching Olympic opening ceremonies I think it is fair to describe last night's event as having more of a political edge than previous efforts and that the politics were of the left. But don't take my word for it. Let's see what some of Britain's foremost left-wing commentators thought of it...
If the people above were giddy with delight about the political content of last night's opening ceremony—and the NHS segment in particular—it seems to me that there is a pretty good prima facie case for saying that it was a tad "leftie". And since opening ceremonies are generally not riddled with political allusions, that gives it a good chance of being the "most leftie opening ceremony" that Mr Burley has ever seen. And since that's all he said, this sounds like just another storm in the Twitter tea cup and we should move on.