If there’s one thing I have learned over the last couple of months throughout all the celebrations across the country, the UK cares a lot more about the monarchy than I appreciated and we have a greater sense of national pride than I anticipated. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee brought vast crowds together for the festivities in London and thing’s haven’t quietened down since, as the Olympic atmosphere has captured the imagination of the majority of the country.
Though our national pride is in better shape than expected, what about the state of our local enthusiasm and community spirit? Do we still have that sense of self at the local level and pride in where we are within the nation-state? The Olympics has done a masterful job of making Britain look united on the national front, projecting a great image to the rest of the world, but that may not necessarily be the situation upon a closer look at the towns and villages across the United Kingdom.
Drawing on personal experience, in my own hometown the annual Cleethorpes Carnival – which has run for 36 years – has sadly come to an end as there is no one willing to take control and organise it. Other local celebrations like it across the country, such as the Spalding Flower Parade, also look like there time is up due to a lack of funds. We need local events like this to bring our communities together.
Local elections are also a point of interest when we consider the state of our interest at what goes on at the local level, as there are hardly inspiring statistics regarding turnout. When we compare the number of people prepared to voice their opinion at the polls for a general election and a local election, the numbers are quite disheartening. It is said that local elections have simply become a place for local people to make their frustrations with the national government known inbetween general elections. If this is the case, we have grossly misused our vote and made a disgrace of our democratic values. Vote for who you want to represent you, not to send a shallow message to national politicians.
That said, the Olympics have given us a good set of examples of local pride as well as national pride. Our athletes may be draped in the Union flag when they succeed but in their hometowns our gold medal winners are in for a surprise. Post boxes across the country are being painted gold to celebrate their achievements. As well as this, we are constantly shown images of small gatherings in sports clubs, little pubs and people’s living rooms across the country, filled with people cheering on their hometown heroes. Those images can help remind us that even though our athletes are doing it for Britain, underneath they are working hard to make their friends and families proud from where they were born and raised.
Maybe when the Olympics are over and the celebrations finally die down in our nation’s capital, we can return our attention to the more pressing concerns we have at home. Our athletes deserve our support but our neighbours do as well. What have you done for your community lately?