Monday 22 August 2016

Has nobody told Heather Wheeler that the British Empire is finished?

Instead of just enjoying the fact that the Great Britain and Northern Ireland Olympic team managed to finish second in the Olympic medals table, the Tory MP Heather Wheeler took it upon herself to mock up a medal table for the British Empire in order to have an utterly pathetic dig at the EU. 

It shouldn't really be necessary to explain why this was an incredibly tasteless move, but it's not so long since a YouGov opinion poll found that 44% of British people are actually proud of our history of colonialism, so I suppose it's necessary. 

According to YouGov's findings, for every one person who recognises that our history of stealing other people's land, pillaging their resources and subjugating their people is not actually something to be incredibly proud of, there are two people who think that colonialism was a jolly good show!

If we forget about the land theft, the pillaging of resources and the political subjugation of millions of people and just look at a few episodes of famine, slavery and mass genocide, I think that's enough to get the picture that the Empire wasn't just a bunch of jolly japes.

It's certain that modern day Olympic heroes like Usain Bolt (Jamaica), Wayde van Niekerk (South Africa), Michael Phelps (USA), Penny Oleksiak (Canada) and the Fiji Rugby sevens team hold no animosity towards modern UK citizens over the appalling British history of colonialism, but they'd most likely react furiously if you told them that they didn't win their medals for their own countries, but actually for the British Empire.

Interestingly the Tory MP was using Britain's colonial legacy to have a dig at the EU. It's a spectacularly ill-conceived argument to say "look at how well all these countries we once invaded and occupied have done in comparison to your modern political union of democratic states".

Still, I guess a load of desperately ignorant Biffer and Kipper types will adore this harking back to the days of empire when the British could invade other lands with complete impunity, pillaged resources and murdered anyone who got in their way. I guess appealing to the savagely right-wing sentiments of people like that was the point of posting such an image.

I just can't figure out why Heather Wheeler couldn't just be happy with the spectacular over-achievement of UK & NI athletes in the medals table without bringing Britain's appalling history of colonialism into it to have an utterly pathetic dig at the EU.

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