After the final medal table for this year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro had been pored over, and Britons took their place in the sun, basking in the glory of Team GB finishing second overall - the best showing since 1908 - the creative reinterpretation began. First came the comparison of all EU member states, the USA, and China, which showed the EU, unsurprisingly, first by some distance. And then came the real silliness.
To no surprise at all, this involved the perpetually thirsty Paul Staines and his rabble at the Guido Fawkes blog, who had what they must have thought was a good idea at the time - to reimagine the Olympic medal table as if the British Empire were still extant. This would put us way in front of the EU, and indeed the rest of the world. But, as Captain Blackadder might have observed, there was only one thing wrong with this idea - it was bollocks.
To see just how wrong The Great Guido has gone here, we need look no further than the image behind the headline “Empire Goes For Gold”. This shows both the American Colonies - later the nascent USA - and what is known as British India. But the American Colonies were lost between 1776 and 1783, and British India did not come into being until the Crown took over from the East India Company in 1858.
It gets worse: the British Empire at its zenith included three EU member states other than the UK - Malta, Cyprus and Ireland. You can’t have “British Empire versus EU” because the two overlap.
And worse still: few, if any, of those countries that the Fawkes rabble have lumped into their mythical “British Empire” would consent to be so included nowadays.
And yet worse: consider all the competing “Empire” claims.
France - much of Africa, parts of the West Indies, Canada, and at a stretch, part of the USA.
Spain - much of Central and South America.
Portugal - enclaves in Africa, India, the Far East - and of course all of Brazil.
Or perhaps we should go all the way back to the Roman Empire, which may not have included Scotland, or even Northumberland, but would take in the rest of the UK, most of mainland Europe, North Africa, and part of the Middle East.
The Fawkes idea is a pile of steaming bullpucky. But that hasn’t stopped supremely gullible Tory MP Heather Wheeler from taking the Fawkes folks on trust - never a good idea - and gurgling happily “Now that's what I call winning!!! Well done Team GB & all our Commonwealth friends, now for the Trade Agreements”.
The USA, Ireland and probably others, not part of the British Commonwealth. It’s certainly Olympian, if only on the ridicule scale. Another fine mess, once again.
Pedant's corner beckons on this one. Ms Wheeler also seems to be unaware that the Commonwealth includes countries which were never part of the British empire - Mozambique and Rwanda.
Why not go all the way and claim Calais and Aquitaine? Then we can claim France's medals too. And what about Brunswick and Heligoland>? OK Germany, hand 'em over.
Also, check the map out. Someone forgot about Jamaica...
But in all seriousness, is reminding these places about the good old days of pith helmets, gin slings on the verandah, and the marvellous economic system known as "barge in, shoot everyone, enslave everyone else and nick all their stuff" a really good way to go about negotiating a trade deal?
Not that it matters - Australia and New Zealand are closer these days to east Asia. India's it's own big beast. Canada's slap bang next to the USA. China's carving up Africa. Nobody's going to do deals with the UK for what amounts to old times' sake.
And in our nationalistic fervour who could forget Jerusalem built among our dark satanic mills?
Or was it?
The circus is back in town.
@ Andy McDonald
You were shite in Coronation Street !
And you are Shiite now.
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