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Posts Tagged ‘Scotland’

Lessons from Anzio: Scots do not need to cling to the wreckage of Britain

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, February 2nd 2013

Today is the 70th anniversary of the final surrender of the last German forces at Stalingrad, the battle which militarily and psychologically dealt an irreversible blow to Hitler’s plans for world domination.

Last week I was in Rome on holiday and went to commemorate the 69th anniversary of the Anglo-American landings at Anzio, just south of the capital, the summation of which occurred a year and a half after Stalingrad.

This was the week of Cameron’s big European intervention, and I experienced the sensation of being on the European continent and feeling the UK geo-politically move further away from Europe or more accurately the European project.

Many years ago Jonathan Raban had a similar experience when he decided to sail round the coast of Britain and the Falklands War erupted. As he reflected in his subsequent book, ‘Coasting’, he felt that the UK had slipped its moorings and set sail as a nation for the South Atlantic. Read the rest of this entry »

The Saga of ‘Team GB’ and the Country that doesn’t know its own Name

Gerry Hassan

The Scotsman, April 21st 2012

This week the clock counting down to the London Olympics passed the 100 days to go mark, while the Olympic authorities announced their rigorous social media and Twitter guidelines like a rerun of some Beijing 2008 police operation.

The story of ‘Team GB’ the Olympic football project continues to offer more entertainment, bewilderment and anxiety with a ‘shortlist’ just announced of 80 players. Steven Fletcher, along with David Beckham is apparently included. Next week the draw takes place for the football competition with still a huge number of unsold tickets.

It is ‘Team GB’ that participates in the games, not ‘Team UK’.  The reason for this is shrouded in history. Great Britain was one of only fourteen national teams which competed in the first modern games of 1896 and then in 1908 the name Great Britain and the abbreviation GBR were registered by the Olympic authorities.

This is the conventional story put forward. That a UK which has undergone two World Wars, the loss of Empire and its changing role in the world, couldn’t bring itself to change the 1908 Olympic registration. If so, it says quite a bit about the nature of the UK. Read the rest of this entry »

Rising Now and Being Four Nations Again!

Gerry Hassan

The Guardian Comment is Free, June 24th 2011

The Olympics are coming to London and apparently it has been decreed by the high-heiduns of the British Olympic Association (BOA) that there will be a ‘Team GB’ taking to the football field. They insist this has absolutely nothing to do with their 1.7 million unsold tickets which went on sale this morning, mostly for football, or the losses they think they can cover with ‘Team GB’ replica strips.

The Olympics aren’t really about football, so you could say does any of this really matter? Sport at the Olympics is about athletes at the peak of their talents competing against the best in the world. Except in football! I mean David Beckham, and the odd Scot and Welshman don’t really set the heather afire.

This could lead to people thinking that the ‘Team GB’ venture doesn’t matter that much one way or the other. But it does, for it is about much more than football. Read the rest of this entry »

It’s Only a Game: ‘Team GB’, Football and the Nature of the UK

Gerry Hassan

Open Democracy, June 22nd 2011

The story of the ‘Team GB’ football project entering next year’s Olympics has been rumbling on for a few years. Some people will think this is a sideshow and only about the game of football, but instead it goes to the heart of what the UK, who runs it, and how it is seen internationally.

‘Team GB’s’ role in the 2012 London Olympics was lauded by the British Olympic Association’s (BOA) claim of ‘a historic agreement’ with the other football authorities. This was quickly denounced in a joint statement by the Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish football authorities who said they had ‘collective opposition to Team GB participation at the 2012 Olympic Games’.

What is going on can be judged at a footballing level, and at a much wider and significant level. The BOC’s declaration of a ‘historic agreement’ was nothing of the kind. Instead, it was a blatant, transparent attempt to try to appeal to Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish players above the heads of their national associations. In this it was nothing short of dishonest, calculating and counter-productive. Read the rest of this entry »

The People’s Flag and the Union Jack: An Alternative History of Britain and the Labour Party
Gerry Hassan is a writer, commentator and thinker about Scotland, the UK, politics and ideas. more >
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