The truly international, communitarian Olympics opening we could have had – but didn’t
We start with a rural idyll with well-dressed people playing happily in the countryside. They are then ripped from their roots as the horror of the industrial revolution takes place. There is no sense of the uncertainty, dreadful poverty, disease and malnutrition of rural living of the time giving way to migration to cities to lead a better life where, despite the difficulties, many more people had food on the table and some degree of certainty.
I don’t wish to make the opposite error of suggesting that rural poverty gave way to an industrial idyll, but the reality is one of progress and a pretty grim life in pre-industrial Britain. The ceremony moved on to highlight protest movements. Not the Anti-Corn-Law League which did so much to reduce the poverty of working people, but the suffragettes, trades unionists and, later on, quite extraordinarily, CND.