Jane Merrick: Faster, higher, stronger – yes, that's us

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The Independent Online

So was Aidan Burley right: was the opening ceremony "leftie multi-cultural crap"? Should Danny Boyle have kept to the Red Arrows and Shakespeare, and not the NHS, the Jarrow marchers and the Industrial Revolution?

There were moments when even the staunchest left-winger would have thought things had gone a bit too far: Shami Chakrabarti carrying the Olympic flag with Muhammad Ali was more Twenty Twelve than London 2012.

But there was also the Queen, James Bond and the Armed Forces. Something for everyone. Boyle's artfulness was to tick every box. He made Labour supporters, libertarians, anti-war activists and patriots think it was for them. Yes, the ceremony was political. Yet it was not, ultimately, about left vs right, but of modernism vs backwardness.

Burley, famous for attending a Nazi-themed stag party, probably liked the pastoral scene, of bonneted ladies herding geese over bridges. He probably wishes all of our nation was still like this. Yet their purpose was not to show how lovely rural Britain is today, but to set up the Industrial Revolution. I was moved not by the pleasant scenes of simple country life, but by the gigantic blackened chimneys and forging of the Olympic rings, the shocking, noisy white heat of industry.

The suburban family – the white mother and black father representing the multiculturalism that must have sent Burley on to Twitter – and their digital generation children showed how a Briton, Tim Berners-Lee, invented the internet.

Scenes from our best films and TV were flashed up on the family's house, including the first-ever pre-watershed lesbian screen kiss from Brookside in 1994. When it was pointed out on Twitter that viewers in Saudi Arabia would have witnessed a gay kiss televised for the first time, Boyle's genius seemed complete.

Yes, some of our foreign exploits during the empire were outrageous, but for centuries the British endeavour has been to break down barriers and push boundaries. We may not break many world records in sport. We are often consumed by self-doubt. We love a good shambles. But when Mitt Romney said that Britain was not ready, we were rightly affronted and told him to get lost. When Jeremy Hunt's bell went flying into the crowd on Friday, we felt sorry for him. By the evening, we were ready to be uplifted.

Sebastian Coe got up and said "When our time came, we did it right" and we forgave him for beating Steve Ovett. I didn't hear what Jacques Rogge said, just his voice, the same voice that said "London" on 6 July 2005, before our party stopped. It was all part of the story. Leftie? A bit. Multicultural? Definitely. Crap? Of course not.

The Daily Mail liked it, but now the dust has settled, it will probably rage against some of the leftier elements tomorrow. Every week we are told that Britain has gone to the dogs. Danny Boyle showed why we have not. What makes Britain great? Our modernism. Our progress. In industry, healthcare, the internet, culture and music we have gone faster, higher, stronger. The next two weeks will show Team GB trying to do that in sport.