Does the Daily Mail think these people are ‘Plastic Brits’ too?


9:05 am - August 7th 2012

by Shantel Burns    


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“Team GB have 61 ‘plastic Brits’ taking part in London Olympics” read a Daily Mail headline said last month.

Mattel’s Barbie and Ken look in horror – “We’re American!” they protest. Fear not popular plastic dolls, The Mail was referring to British athletes born overseas. According to the Daily Telegraph 11% of the 542-strong were born abroad.

With an article woven with negative connotations, it made us wonder – does the Daily Mail consider these British icons ‘plastic Brits’ too?

Freddie Mercury
Born in Zanzibar in 1946, Mercury spent his adult life in Great Briton and has his own figurine. The figurine may be plastic but Freddie Mercury certainly isn’t.

.

Emma Watson
The Harry Potter star was born in Paris.

.

Bradley Wiggins
Famous for his Olympic winning, Tour de France conquering cycling, Bradley Wiggins has given the British nation multiple cycling wins. Unfortunately for The Mail, he was born in Belgium.

.

Eddie Izzard
Describe as an English stand up comedian, actor and writer, Izzard was born in Yemen.

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George Orwell
Orwell was born in British India in 1906.

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Richard E Grant
British actor/screenwrite/director extraordinaire, Richard E Grant was born Swaziland. He holds dual British and Swaziland Citizenship.

.

J R R Tolkien
Creator of ‘Lord of the Rings’, J R R Tolkien probably has one of the worlds most recognised initials. Born in South Africa, Tolkien was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth ll in 1976.

.

Richard Curtis
Romantic comedy mastermind, Richard Curtis CBE was born in New Zealand. He created big and small screen success with British films such as Notting Hill and programs such as the Vicar of Dibley.

Cliff Richard
Crooner, Sir Cliff Richard, was born in British India.

.

Rudyard Kipling
Famous for his Nobel Prize winning writing, Kipling was born in British India.

.

Over to you Daily Mail. Are these all ‘Plastic Brits’ too?

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About the author
Shantel Burns is a News Editor at Liberal Conspiracy, and a publishing and journalism student and current affairs nerd. Blogs at: ramblepolitics.blogspot.co.uk too.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Media ,Race relations

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Reader comments


Of course they are. They are all white.

Or aren’t rather.

3. flyingrodent

I think the relevant point is that it doesn’t matter whether the Mail thinks these people are “plastic Brits” or not, any more than it would if Virgin or Greggs the Bakers thought they were.

What matters is that they would be very, very willing to say that they think these people are plastic Brits or much, much worse, again and again, if it would make a few hundred thousand morons fork over fifty pence each today, tomorrow and the next day.

In a way, I might even admire the Mail a little if its employees had the stones to stand behind its hateful politics. That would imply some kind of principle at stake, some kind of ideal to purse, even if they’re deranged.

What they actually do is turn hateful politics into hard cash, to make men who are already rich a little bit wealthier. That’s several thousand times more despicable than the humdrum crime of being racist and a bit thick, I reckon.

While Freddie’s technically Zoroastrian, I reckon he’s white enough for Tom’s original joke/accurate comment to stand. Joanna Lumley (Kashmir) would be another good one, especially given how much the DM loves here.

A ‘plastic Brit’ advocate who wanted to be super-quibbly could make the point that Mercury, Orwell, Tolkien, C. Richard, Kipling and Lumley were all born British subjects (British and Commonwealth nationalities were only separated after 1947, which was also the point when the status of ‘British citizen’ replaced that of ‘British subject’).

Then again, if someone were to follow that logic they’d also have to accept all Commonwealth nationals born before 1947 as British, which I suspect might not reflect such a person’s real-life attitude to elderly Jamaican and Pakistani migrants.

I know we all hate the Daily Mail and everything, but that’s just a churnalist retread of a Daily Telegraph article. And they do rather address the point you’re making as well:

And now a Daily Telegraph survey has revealed that 11 per cent of the 542-strong were born abroad.

The figure has been inflated by some athletes who were simply born away from home to British parents.

But, you know, “Daily Heil” and all that too.

6. margin4error

No mention of Boris Johnson?

Damned yanks…

I’d rather people who come to this country, choose to be British and make a major contribution to this country and its international standing instead of the dishonest peddlers of hate and prejudice at the Daily Mail, who are an embarrassment to this country.

8. the a&e charge nurse

Surely t’fail forgotten has not forgotten how (or perhaps more importantly WHY) it pressurised Thatch into fast track Zola Budd’s passport application?

‘Geoffrey Howe, then foreign secretary, warned that the rush to grant her a passport would look “unseemly” and upset governments around the world. “The whole question of sport and South Africa is a political minefield,” he said. But Leon Brittan, the then home secretary, brushed him aside’.

Documents show ‘how a series of ministers came under pressure from the Daily Mail, which was determined to pull off a scoop by recruiting Budd. At the age of 17, South African-born Budd’s prodigious talent had been clear as she smashed a succession of records. But because of South Africa’s pariah status, these were not recognised and she was not able to compete internationally.There was, however, a potential way around the problem as her grandfather had been born in London’.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2005/aug/10/southafrica.past

T’fail’s formula seems quite clear: cockney grandad = british national.

9. Suburban Tory

Try reading the original article by Martin Samuel where he coined the phrase “Plastic Brits”.

Far from complaining about the “foreigners” he is making the argument that Team GB are cheating by importing athletes from abroad and that the athletes themselves are using Team GB as a flag of convenience.

But don’t let little things like facts and cogent arguments stop from you from pointing at the Mail and spluttering “Racists…1930’s…..brownshirts…..Hitler”.

I think I heard this being discussed with the journalist on Radio 4 a couple of weeks ago.

If I remember correctly he said the term ‘Plastic Brit’ would not apply to Britons born abroad or naturalised Britons – rather to people who have taken up British citizenship in order to follow their sporting career. Say: Zola Budd.

I suppose similar stories are probably run in newspapers in Timbuktu:
“Is Freddie Kanute’ a Plastic Malian?”

11. Shatterface

You forgot Spike Milligan (India).

Also, Michael Gove, who was grown in a vat on the planet Skaro.

Most of thses were born to British parents serving the British Empire though., so the Mail wouldn’t consider them ‘foreign’.

Far from complaining about the “foreigners” he is making the argument that Team GB are cheating by importing athletes from abroad and that the athletes themselves are using Team GB as a flag of convenience.

ie far from complaining about the ‘foreigners’, he’s, erm, complaining about the foreigners?

13. margin4error

suburban tory

Brilliantly the article can only find one plastic brit (if we take the term to be critical of one’s choice of nationality on purely sporting grounds) – and her parents are British, so she hardly has “no connection” to Britain.

The other two examples offered are an athlete who has been a British national since the day she was born – and a woman born in a British overseas territory that has no national olympic committee – and so, like athletes from some other overseas territories of other countries, she has to compete under the colonial power’s flag for the olympics (that’ll be GB in this case).

Which raises a couple of questions about why this article is so piss poor.

one – could they not really find any “plastic Brits” of the sort they want everyone to hate – y’know, not actually British at all and just using our nationality to get to the Olympics because they can’t make their national team?

two – if they could find plastic brits that meet the spirit of the criticism, why did they choose to rant about such innapropriate black women as the targets of the spite they hoped to generate? (seriously, all three are black women. Do only black women do this? No men? No whites? what’s that about?)

14. margin4error

Kojak

thing is – in the definition you offer – two of the three black women attacked as plastic brits in the martin samuel article are not plastic brits (they are Brits broad abroad).

The other was born in a British overseas territory with no olmpic committee – so although she’s not a Brit born abroad, British rule means she’s unable to qualify for or go to an olympics unless she does so under the flag of the colonial power.

So what was the point exactly of the Mail’s article?

15. Suburban Tory

This argument is not about “race” it is about sporting ethics.

I’m not even sure if I agree with Martin Samuel – if Tiffany Porter wins a medal will I care that she is only running for Team GB because of her failure to make Team USA? Probably not!

Importing sports players is an old British tradition, as John B points out it is complicated by the pre war nationality qualification difference and no one seems to have much cared in the days of Empire anyway, if you were born on a pink part of the map you were in. However I think there is an important question to be asked these days about just what exactly constitutes Britishness in regard to sporting allegiance, this is something that has bedeviled Cricket with the Kolpak players, who are predominantly white and the hoo hah over Kevin Pietersen and his role in English cricket wouldn’t be anywhere near so heated if he wasn’t seen by a lot of people as a carpetbagger.

MarginforError re comment 14:

Thank you for your message.

Martin Samuel is a sports writer and wasn’t the guy I heard on the radio who was credited with writing the article about plastic brits. So perhaps the definition has been changed to suit whoever re-hashes the article.

The reason I mentioned Freddie Kanoute’ is that he arrived at Spurs as a Frenchman only to start playing for Mali (parents) half way through his second season. When Kanoute’ went off to the Africa Cup of Nations that left the infamously incompatible partnership of Robbie Keane and Jermaine Defoe up front, with occasional assistance from Mido.

18. margin4error

Kojak – fair point – I’m sure the term is re-interpreted to mean whatever suits the user.

Suburban Tory

While it isn’t about race – one has to wonder why the Daily Mail could only find three rather tenuous examples, all of whom are black women, to direct public spite towards?

Seems a weird coincidence that – choosing three examples and three only – none of which stand up to a great deal of scrutiny – but all of which are black women.

As Dr Who says – never ignore a coincidence.

Just for the avoidance of doubt, Proctor is a full British citizen and has been for at least a decade (all British Overseas Citizens gained full British citizenship in 2002).

The fact that she doesn’t identify as primarily British is irrelevant: her status is no different from that of a Scot or a Channel Islander who doesn’t primarily identify as British playing for Team GB.

Well, there is *one* visual difference between her and most Scots and Channel Islanders. But I’m sure that’s not why people have been dwelling on her.

20. Suburban Tory

John B

Fair point….or at least it would be if Martin Samuel hadn’t been also campaigning about the inclusion of white Ukrainian wrestlers in Team GB.

Guess you must have missed it.

Too many racist dog whistles that only you can hear confusing you perhaps.

21. margin4error

suburban tory

I’m inclined to exclaim my shock and surprise that the Mail doesn’t like east european immigrants any more than it likes black people – but I just can’t muster that level of sarcasm.

Still – biggotry is, ironically, rather undiscriminating. And dismissing a chap who has been in Britain for 9 years – since before we even bid for the olympics – as a sign that the plastic brit phenomenon results in drugs cheating is a little far fetched. He’s spent nine yers (his adult wrestling career) immersed in British sporting culture.

Also – the plastic brit claim about wrestling falls short a bit when we the IOC allows us only only one wrestling place at the olympics. Hardly makes us the place to go for easy access in that sport.

I accept that a mass policy of hiring wrestlers who came to Britain aged over 21 with no prior connection to the UK is questionable at best, and the GB wrestling federation (at least based on that article and a couple of others I’ve looked up) has not lived up to the standards you’d hope it would.

(you know individual sport federations are completely separate, right? So that bad practice in wrestling in no sense means bad practice in other Olympian sports)

But that makes it *even more* despicable to lump into the same bracket a woman who was a British national from birth, has been a British citizen for a decade, has every legal and moral right to compete for Team GB, and has no right to compete for any other nation.

23. margin4error

john b

Worth noting the ukranians came over as coaches because we can pay coaches more than they can get in Ukrane – and that means they can focus their lives on the sport they love and even continue competing at events.

The guy who took drugs had been here 9 years by the time his test was positive – having arrived as a sparring partner.

So the big question is – was it worth it? Did bringing over those coaches actually achieve much? Since we seem not to be very good at wrestling still – one would guess not.

And fortunately, following Labour’s reforms of funding for elite sport that has seen the UK become rise to unprecedented success at a number of sports like cycling and rowing – the flip side is that we won’t be wasting much money on sports that don’t run themselves well.

Mostly agree, M4E: the lottery plus Labour direct funding (and while I’m always happy to give credit to Labour, Mr Major’s lottery is the thing that has made the single biggest difference to UK amateur sport) created a vast influx of cash, hence we hired coaches from everywhere to try and do everything. I think, as you say, that the conclusion is that Eastern Europeans have the build for wrestling and Brits generally don’t, so we should probably give that one a rest. But trying it was a good call, and as you say, if a chap’s been in the UK promoting British sports for eight years he’s not wholly plastic.

Anyway. I think that raising questions re people who were given UK visas solely on the basis of being good at sport (even if as coaches originally) and who went on to play for Team GB is reasonable, whatever conclusions you draw from those questions. Extending that to people who have UK citizenship by birthright (whether through parents or by being born in a UK territory) is disgusting, and anyone who does so wants a kicking.

25. margin4error

Spot on John b
And all credit to lottery funding (and thus Major) too. Changed the financial landscap of amateur sport dramatically.

In other news, the Daily Hate and the Right Whingers are to start a campaign to see the Ashes returned to the Ausiess because of the number of South Africans playing for team England.

Seriously, a Story about ‘plastic Brits’ and no-one mentioned Andrew Struass or Kevin Peiterson!

Jim

I mentioned Kevin Pietersen @ 16.

Plastic Brits? The Daily Mail must really hate Prince Philip of Greece and Denmark, then.

29. Jeremy Austin

British Olympian Zola Budd, who was of course South African, came to Britain to compete after the Daily Mail CAMPAIGNED to have her come.

Did not know they were all in the Olympics, I should have been looking harder.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
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