Why I’m thanking residents for getting behind Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions

Today I did something unusual for a Liberal Democrat councillor. I thanked local residents for being patriotic.

The area I serve always likes to join in big events. People make huge efforts at Christmas and major national occasions. At the moment, the place is consumed with football fever and many houses are flying England flags of all shapes and sizes. Football truly is coming home in Oakley ward.

That’s why today I delivered a letter of thanks to every home displaying an England flag.

I wanted to thank people because walking around Oakley reminded me of some of my most cherished memories. Whether it was nervously chewing my pyjamas to pieces as a six-year-old during the 1990 semi-final, seeing Lineker miss a penalty against Brazil at the old Wembley, or enduring the ill-fated McClaren qualifying campaign home and away as a supporters club member, the England team has played a big part in my life.

As liberals, we often get a bit sniffy about patriotism and displays of national pride. But as Tim Farron often wisely tells us, there’s a big difference between patriotism and nationalism. I’m a proud Englishman, British citizen and European. And this England team is something all of us should be able to get behind. Gareth Southgate’s pre-tournament letter Dear England made as good a case for liberal values as I’ve heard from anyone in recent times. And the squad itself is a triumph of liberalism. This tournament the team has shown its support for the LGBT+ community, we’ve seen the children of immigrants proudly wearing the England shirt, and we’ve seen England pick two players who made the brave choice to play football abroad as teenagers.

It’s a shame some grumpy Conservative MPs don’t feel able to support our country at this exciting time. I hope they’ll change their mind, because this is a great time to be an England football fan.

So, thanks to Oakley residents and thanks to anyone else getting behind the England team at the Euros. Whether we win the trophy or not, it’s definitely still coming home.

* Max Wilkinson is the Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate for Cheltenham. He’s also a local councillor and cabinet member for economic development, tourism, culture and wellbeing.

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85 Comments

  • Brad Barrows 7th Jul '21 - 10:14am

    I think the idea that there is a distinction between patriotism and nationalism is false. Both ‘isms’ are views of the world which recognise the difference between ‘us’ and those who are ‘not us’. At one end, both ‘isms’ can be positive, emphasising our sense of national identity, shared culture and shared aspirations. At the other extreme, both ‘isms’ can become chauvinistic, xenophobic or even racist.

  • Barry Lofty 7th Jul '21 - 10:27am

    I have to admit to a fear that any success for the England
    team would be seized upon by our self serving Prime Minister as a vindication for his “Global Britain” policies, but I am heartened by the stance taken by the England manager and his team. By the way it seems like only yesterday I witnessed England winning the World cup at the old Wembley stadium, where have the years gone?

  • Patriotism is not about flying a flag.
    Some people woulf have gone into the Resistance if the German inavsion had been successful, that is patriotism, something I suspect those who fly flags when football tournaments are on know little or nothing about.

  • Paul Barker 7th Jul '21 - 11:05am

    We are all partly prisoners of our past, I am old enough to remember the 1970s when both English & British Flags were associated with Skinheads & Nazis.
    I have to say that thanking people for displaying an English Flag seems weird & creepy. If we want to reward people for getting involved in the community – why not thank those who put up posters for mainstream Parties in the Local Elections – that involves sticking your head over the parapet, standing out & inviting criticism.
    I do see a huge difference between Patriotism & Nationalism, loving your own Country doesnt mean that you think its any better than other Countries.

  • Peter Martin 7th Jul '21 - 11:50am

    “I do see a huge difference between Patriotism & Nationalism” ??

    The SNP do make the argument that the N stands for National rather than Nationalist. So we should call them the Nationals rather than the Nationalists? Why aren’t they the SPP? I’m sure this identity of: National/Patriotic =good. Nationalist = Bad is all far too nuanced for most people!

    It’s all a matter of degree. If anyone is supporting a particular National sporting team they are, by definition, being Nationalistic. That’s fine if they don’t push it too far and start hating the opposition as a consequence. As the South Africans discovered during the Apartheid years there’s no point in having a National sporting team if there’s no-one to play against. We do need our opponents!

  • Andrew Melmoth 7th Jul '21 - 12:01pm

    If displaying flags is a praiseworthy activity presumably we should also disapprove of people who don’t? This is divisive and sinister. Politicians should have better things to do than going round making lists of people displaying the required level of patriotism. Surprised to see a Lib Dem going in for this culture war rubbish.

  • …………………there’s a big difference between patriotism and nationalism…………………

    At football; really? I watched England/Germany in the beer garden of a local pub..As the beer flowed inflatable spitfires were thrown about and a song about ‘Ten German Bombers’ was chanted..
    Save your thanks for those who show patriotism in more worthy causes!

  • Scott Berry 7th Jul '21 - 12:40pm

    I think is really clever campaigning but also a really important message. We’ll never win the fight against nationalism (and the dangerous fascism it entails) if we don’t acknowledge that patriotism (supporting your football team) is something else and even a good thing.
    If people can’t support immigrants and football too many will choose football.
    Do you have a draft of the letter by the way?

  • @expats – I hope that England do win tonight and then go on to win the final then 1966 and all that, can start to become what it is history.

  • Roland 7th Jul ’21 – 2:03pm………..@expats – I hope that England do win tonight and then go on to win the final then 1966 and all that, can start to become what it is history………..

    Roland, it’s not 1966 that should be consigned to history; it’s 1939/45.. Nationalism and sport can be a dangerous combination…

  • Barry Lofty 7th Jul '21 - 2:45pm

    Roland: Thanks for dismissing my life so easily as history. I can also tell you that there was no segregating in the standing areas at Wembley during all the matches I attended in 1966 and I cannot recall any trouble even on the day of final against Germany, could you guarantee that today? You can learn a lot from history!

  • Max Wilkinson 7th Jul '21 - 3:05pm

    Thanks to everyone who has responded. I appreciate you all taking the time.

    Scott – thank you for picking up on the positivity of this initiative. That’s what I had hoped for. If you email me on [email protected] I can send you a copy of the letter.

    Barry – the fact that right wingers (more often than not) take ownership of this sort of issue is exactly why those of us who aren’t on that side of politics need to be less timid.

    Paul – It’s fine to disagree, but I suspect you may be overthinking this. It’s always nice to thank people for showing community spirit. I object to being called creepy.

    Theakes – I’m not sure where to begin with your comment. There is clearly no trade-off between people putting up an England flag and your alternative history in which the Nazis won WW2 and British people joined a resistance. The fact you have resorted to a comparison with the war is somewhat instructive and something we often criticise English and British nationalists for doing – particularly in the context of football.

    Andrew – the answer to your question is ‘no’. I agree with you that it would indeed be sinister if I was making a list of people who had flown a flag. That is not what I did. I delivered an unaddressed letter of thanks without noting any property names and numbers. I don’t see how this is part of any culture war.

    Expats – You have implied that the England football team is not a worthy cause and that all who support it are nationalists who bang on about the war. This is exactly the sort of prissy attitude that puts a huge number of people off ‘progressive’ politics. Indeed, it is not just right wing football fans who enjoy invoking ‘the war’ – see the post by Theakes as evidence. I know an awful lot of liberals who support England and shudder when they hear references to ‘the war’ in a football context.

    Roland – I hope we win too.

  • Brad Barrows 7th Jul '21 - 3:10pm

    @Scott
    Would you classify the belief that your country should govern itself rather than be governed as part of a larger entity, nationalism, patriotism, both or neither?

  • Not supporting the England team ?? “This is exactly the sort of prissy attitude………….. ”

    I hope it doesn’t come as too much of a surprise to Mr Wilkinson down in leafy comfortable Cheltenham that there is a world north of Carlisle and Berwick…… and it’s not particularly known for having a prissy attitude.

  • John Marriott 7th Jul '21 - 4:31pm

    What the heck is wrong with some of you? I’d rather support our national team any day rather than any of the collections of foreigners plying their trade in the Premier League. (Well, I might make exceptions for Leicester and Lincoln City! As for flags, if you ever see footage of the 1966 Cup you will notice the predominance of the Union Jack. Now it tends to be the Cross of St George. Wasn’t he a Greek and weren’t dragons myths?

    I really do hope that England goes all the way. That might soften the blow when these super spreader events cause the infection rates to go through the roof! When you’ve done and said all, it’s still only soccer; but didn’t the late Bill Shankly famously say it was a lot more important than life or death?

    COME ON ENGLAND!!

  • Peter Watson 7th Jul '21 - 4:41pm

    @Brad Barrows “I think the idea that there is a distinction between patriotism and nationalism is false.”
    While driving last week, I heard part of Radio 4’s Moral Maze discussing this and there were a couple of references to George Orwell. Googling it later brought up his “Notes on Nationalism” (https://www.orwellfoundation.com/the-orwell-foundation/orwell/essays-and-other-works/notes-on-nationalism/). I can’t pretend to have read and digested it all, but I like the distinction he makes between patriotism and nationalism, and I think it is important to be able to consider them as different things:

    By ‘nationalism’ I mean first of all the habit of assuming that human beings can be classified like insects and that whole blocks of millions or tens of millions of people can be confidently labelled ‘good’ or ‘bad’. But secondly ­– and this is much more important – I mean the habit of identifying oneself with a single nation or other unit, placing it beyond good and evil and recognizing no other duty than that of advancing its interests. Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.

  • Peter Watson 7th Jul '21 - 4:50pm

    @Paul Barker “I have to say that thanking people for displaying an English Flag seems weird & creepy.”
    I think it’s a much much better attitude than the sneering condescension implied by Labour’s Emily Thornberry a few years ago.
    Also, I have to say it’s also not something I would have expected from a Lib Dem politician and I applaud Max for it. Even if it might be a bit “creepy”! 😉

  • Barry Lofty 7th Jul '21 - 5:05pm

    Just a final word on the 1966 England world cup winning team, what a wonderful talented group of players we had, led by the right manager at the right time. Many now have passed away and several suffered dementia in later years, I for one feel immensely proud of their achievements and hope that they will always be remembered. There is a lot similarity with the present manager and players, so fingers crossed!

  • Max Wilkinson 7th Jul '21 - 5:13pm

    David – I did not for a moment suggest that everyone must support the England team and those who do not are ‘prissy’. But I do think it the initial response by expats was laced with prissiness!

    John and Peter – that’s the spirit!

  • Nonconformistradical 7th Jul '21 - 5:19pm

    @Peter Watson
    Thanks for drawing attention to ‘Notes on Nationalism’. Quoting from it:-
    “The nationalist does not go on the principle of simply ganging up with the strongest side. On the contrary, having picked his side, he persuades himself that it is the strongest, and is able to stick to his belief even when the facts are overwhelmingly against him.”

    No particular interest in the football. But I do perceive this attitude has been shown many times by some who appear to think England teams – whatever the sport – have a divine right to win, irrespective of the particular team’s ability or lack of.

  • Simon Foster 7th Jul '21 - 5:25pm

    Excellent article Max and well done for doing this – we need more amongst this in the Lib Dems.

    I taught nationalism for 10 years as part of the second year of an A level politics course, on political ideology. There is a strong link, but also a definite difference between patriotism and nationalism, as the Collins Dictionary points out:

    Patriotism, definition:

    “Patriotism is love for your country and loyalty towards it.” (Collins Dictionary).

    “1) Nationalist means connected with the desire of a group of people within a country for political independence.

    2) Nationalist means connected with a person’s great love for their nation. It is often associated with the belief that their nation is better than any other nation, and in this case is often used showing disapproval.” (Collins dictionary).

    It is perfectly possible for a liberal to be patriotic towards their football team and country, whilst believing that we should members of the European Union – something many UK nationalists would have a problem with.

    Nationalists believe in their version of the nation-state, and the nation state being the primary political body (whether its socialist, anti-colonial, post colonial, liberal, conservative or expansionist nationalism, including fascism or nazism) or cultural nationalism looking to defend a nations culture (which can start off moderate but quickly end up in cultural superiority and Volkism).

    Liberals, in my mind, being suspicious of power, have a broader view of politics, whether its strong regional and local government or support for supra-national institutions (eg: the EU, the Council of Europe) – it’s NOT all down to the nation state. When it comes to culture, we should support cultural diversity alongside liberal values. Indeed I believe we should support cosmopolitan multiculturalism, with self identifying hybrid identities, which I also taught.

    Footnote – the exam syllabus for A level politics is far from perfect. It has described liberal nationalists as those who seek to create a new national state through constitutional means such as referenda.

    Thus the SNP has been cited as an example. I’d be amongst the first to recognise that decentralisation and liberal would not be everyone’s choice of words when it comes to describing some of the actions of the SNP in practice.

  • Could I gently remind my old chum John Marriott that Mr Shankly was a Scot………. and when he was manager of Huddersfield Town back in the 1950’s the training sessions consisted of England v. Scotland seven a side in the cinder car park (Denis Law versus Ray Wilson. No prisoners taken).

  • ……………Expats – You have implied that the England football team is not a worthy cause and that all who support it are nationalists who bang on about the war. This is exactly the sort of prissy attitude that puts a huge number of people off ‘progressive’ politics. Indeed, it is not just right wing football fans who enjoy invoking ‘the war’ – see the post by Theakes as evidence. I know an awful lot of liberals who support England and shudder when they hear references to ‘the war’ in a football context…………and Max Wilkinson 7th Jul ’21 – 5:13pm…

    Not at all….However, if ‘prissy’ is being ashamed when hearing those, whose grandfathers weren’t born when WW2 ended, chanting anti German songs then I’m “proud to be prissy”.. If being ashamed when hearing England fans booing England players for taking the knee then I’m “proud to be prissy”…

    Sadly, football, as opposed to other national sports attract a very vocal minority whose views on everything is coloured by a xenophobic nationalism..

    I’m not really a football fan but I really hope England win Euro 20..However, I seem to remember that the last time I saw so many St. George flags was at the pre/post Brexit vote..

  • John Marriott 7th Jul '21 - 6:44pm

    @Barry Lofty
    In many aspects the England side at the 1970 World Cup was even stronger. Fate was not kind to them. Remember the alleged jewelery theft in Bogotá (?) involving the late Bobby Moore? Or the jeering crowds all night and every night outside the team’s hotel in Mexico, the heat and altitude and the insistence that matches be played at the hottest period of the day for an evening broadcast in Europe? Then, to cap it all, Montezuma’s revenge struck poor old Gordon Banks which necessitated the substitution of Chelsea’s Peter ‘the Cat’ Bonetti.

    In the quarter final in Leon, thanks to Sir Alf’s problems with the newish substitution rules, Bobby Charlton left the field with England two up for ‘Kaiser Franz’ to dictate play and for Germany to win 3-2. If only Banks had played and Bobby stayed on, who knows? Mind you, we would probably have lost to Brazil again and the ‘thirty years of hurt’ was well and truly on the way ( now more like 56 ).

    But THIS TIME …..?

    PS Yes, Barry many of the class of ‘66 died far too young from a variety of ailments, some of which could be put down to heading those heavy leather balls of yesteryear, while Gordon Banks’ career was cut short by a non laminated car windscreen. However, I’m glad that all the squad, I believe, have now received medals. Better late than never.

  • Barry Lofty 7th Jul '21 - 6:51pm

    John Marriott: Totally agree John about them ALL receiving medals, BTW Gordon Banks was a real hero of mine, what a nice man and a wonderful goalkeeper

  • Barry Lofty 7th Jul '21 - 6:59pm

    John Marriott @ Also thanks for reminding me of the 1970s finals, I know I get a bit fixated on the 1966 tournament?

  • @Barry Lofty “Thanks for dismissing my life so easily as history.”
    Well anything over 40 years ago is generally regarded as history and thus worthy of study…

    if its any consolation, as far as my teenagers are concerned, dad’s childhood~university years is ancient history. 🙂

  • Barry Lofty 7th Jul '21 - 7:04pm

    Roland@ I do understand, just a bit depressing though Ha!!

  • “Don’t mention the war.” – I think I got away with it, as Basil once said.

    History is full of things that should never have happened. The adult way is to recognise that these things did happen but now we have moved on. There is absolutely nothing wrong with feeling proud of your country and its football team. There is everything wrong with changing street names and pulling statues down.

    Please excuse me, I’m off to watch England playing Denmark. I shall support the British team because I am proud to be British as well as a Scot.

  • Nonconformistradical 7th Jul '21 - 7:33pm

    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2021/jul/07/gareth-southgate-three-hijabis-proud-three-lions
    “People of colour and marginalised people know we are a tiptoe away from racism and bigotry, which is why Gareth Southgate’s inclusive England team is winning so many hearts. By taking the knee, by standing against homophobia and bigotry, this team is playing for all of us.”

    Although I have no particular interest in football I am really impressed by Gareth Southgate.

  • John Marriott 7th Jul '21 - 11:04pm

    AND WE DID! Now for Italy.

  • Robin Grayson 8th Jul '21 - 9:04am

    Sorry folks, I did my level best to follow this thread but my interest finally flagged. I ‘m a geologist with a professional interest in flagstones as it comes with the territory. Needless to say but needles and threads make flags for waving in the flappable world of vexillologists known as vexillogy [vek-suh-lol-uh-jee]

    noun
    the study of flags.

  • John Marriott 8th Jul '21 - 9:46am

    @Martin
    What about Maradona’s Hand of God’ in 1986, or Lampard’s ‘goal that never was’ in 2010, or even Hurst’s second ‘goal’ in 1966. I reckon that Kane had ‘earned’ a penalty earlier before the referee, after VAR consultation, awarded one to Sterling. In any case, England in my humble opinion deserved the win – and thank goodness we were spared another penalty ‘shootout’!

    You win some and you lose some. “Kismet”, as the dying Nelson might actually have said to Hardy.

  • @John Marriott 7th Jul ’21 – 6:44pm

    Don’t worry John it will never happen!

    Although I did have a dream last night that England won a major international semi-final on a penalty. I know it was a dream as it has never happened in my lifetime. Sometimes one does get one’s hopes up!… But they are only dashed again!

    It’s odd how real some dreams seem at the time… Anyway back to reality….

    What’s that…?

    Great news – roll on Sunday…. !!!!! Football’s coming home! Definitely! Surely? May be??This time??!!!!

  • Peter 7th Jul ’21 – 7:31pm……… I am proud to be British as well as a Scot……….

    What unique British values, apart from the ‘accident’ of being born or living here, make you proud?

  • Rosie Sharpley 8th Jul '21 - 10:21am

    If only we had a few more politicians like Gareth Southgate I muse . He and his Team have grasped the concept that the letter “i” does not appear in the word “team” as Lord Jones said. Surely in Max we have a councillor that I can certainly identify with and I did the job for 2+ decades. We have here someone who can get out there and communicate and identify with his electorate in the sense of Jo Grimond ‘s advise ” if you have something to say put it on a piece of paper and put it through their letterbox”. It’s not that you are preaching it’s letting them know you are there. Thank you Max.

  • Peter Martin 8th Jul '21 - 10:30am

    All respect is due to George Orwell, of course, but in his “Notes on Nationalism” he is simply separating out what he considers to be the positive and negative aspects of the issue under the respective headings of Patriotism and Nationalism.

    This suits many Lib Dems who have always had a sniffy attitude towards the Nation State. They like to think they are being internationalist by supporting the development of the EU, of course, with the UK’s inclusion, into itself being a very large European Nation State. So on the one hand they want devolution to smaller political units and on the other they want to concentrate power even more centrally.

    A near global feature of the Nation State is that it has its own separate currency and its own separate parliament. It allows a certain degree of autonomy to its constituent parts but retains overall control of its laws and currency. The EU is no different from the USA in this respect. It’s not completely made the transition from tadpole to frog but its part way there and we can see what we’re going to end up with. If the said organism stays alive, that is.

    The left and Labour movement needs to understand the political realities of how the Nation State functions to achieve their objectives. It didn’t used to be a problem. A Labour government was elected in 1945 which, rightly or wrongly, Nationalised around 25% of the economy and set up the NHS. This simply would not be possible in any of present day EU countries unless the whole of the EU was on the same political track.

    The Nation State need not be itself a reactionary concept unless we leave support for it only to reactionary forces.

    https://www.counterfire.org/articles/book-reviews/19347-reclaiming-the-state-book-review

  • @Rosie Sharpley

    Very good comment!

    To be fair Gareth Southgate does have a slightly easier task – well actually may be not! And he *is* very good at answering questions and actually answers them… Unlike Boris!

    To be a pedant – which is I find the most irritating thing in the world – but if I don’t point it out probably someone else well the advice (at least according to Paddy Ashdown quoted on LDV – https://www.libdemvoice.org/paddy-youve-heard-the-saying-its-not-the-winning-that-matters-its-the-taking-part-thats-bks-33603.html ) came from David Penhaligon.

    It still remains excellent advice though!

  • Peter Martin 8th Jul '21 - 10:57am

    @ Martin,

    “But was that extra time penalty deserved? At what point was there contact?”

    It sounds like you aren’t too happy about England’s win. Of course this would be fair enough if you had a Danish connection. It has already been pointed out that crucial decisions have at times gone against England. In last night’s match England claimed a penalty on two occasions. One was given. One wasn’t. That’s a decision to be made by the referee and the VAR officials. This is football and supporters of either team have to accept their verdict.

    On the wider political issue there seems to be a sort of ‘revolutionary defeatism’ being shown by what many would term the ‘left progressive intelligentsia’. This manifests itself in support for the EU when the inevitable disputes arise over the interpretation and implementation of the withdrawal agreements. This sentiment is certainly not shared by the British working classes and is a large factor in the shift of voting patterns we now see.

  • @expats “What unique British values, apart from the ‘accident’ of being born or living here, make you proud?” Do you have to have unique values in order to be proud of a group of people? Is it not possible to feel pride just because it’s a group held together by common values that you are a part of?

    Imagine asking someone if they are proud of their son/daughter/mother father. Wouldn’t you think it odd and a bit callous if the person replied along the lines of, “Why should I be proud of my son/daughter/mother/father? He/she has no unique values, apart from the ‘accident’ of having been born into my family,” No – you’re proud of that person *because* they are a part of your family and you value him/her as a human being. Can’t patriotism work the same way?

    (To be clear, I do actually also think there are many specific things to be proud of about the UK – democracy, tolerance, our relatively stable society, the ability of the country to change and improve, etc. But you don’t have to find unique values in order to feel patriotic)

  • Nonconformistradical 8th Jul '21 - 11:19am

    @Simon R
    “you’re proud of that person *because* they are a part of your family and you value him/her as a human being. Can’t patriotism work the same way?”

    If the end result involves valuing some human beings more than others simply on the grounds of an accident of birth in a particular country (obviously the person didn’t choose that country for themselves, their parents did – by accident or by design) – why is that so important?

    What’s wrong with valuing human beings – whatever their origins – on the basis of their actions rather than any factors over which they themselves have no control?

  • David Goble 8th Jul '21 - 11:44am

    The manager, and the team are doing well; it’s just a shame that the supporters seem to feel the need to boo every other team’s National Anthem. That, to me, shows nationalism and we all know where that leads! Not so much Global Britain; more Little England.

    Gareth Southgate should become a politician – he makes the current sorry crop seem very immature!

  • Simon R 8th Jul ’21 – 11:00am………

    So should one feel proud to be part of an abusive family or marriage?

    As for the UK’s ‘specific’ democracy, tolerance, our relatively stable society, the ability of the country to change and improve, etc

    Didn’t we have those values in common with our European (EU) neighbours? As for ‘change and improve’? The current gerrymandering of our democratic voting rights, the lack of tolerance that has made such compassion as the saving of 1930’s Jewish children illegal in today’s Britain, the acceptance of corruption/cronyism without censure, etc.

    In fact, far from being proud to be British, with each passing year I’m becoming more ashamed of the ‘British’ label..

    But you don’t have to find unique values in order to feel patriotic..So ‘My country right or wrong’?..

  • Peter Martin 8th Jul '21 - 12:08pm

    @ Nonconformistradical,

    “What’s wrong with valuing human beings – whatever their origins – on the basis of their actions rather than What’s wrong with valuing human beings – whatever their origins – on the basis of their actions rather than any factors over which they themselves have no control?l?”

    Nothing wrong at all.

    I do tend to largely agree with the sentiment. Or, at least, want to agree. Except that I do have to recognise that this does go against human nature. We all, rightly or wrongly, tend to value our own children above others. If we leave any money in our wills we mainly leave it to them, even though they have had “no control” over their “origins”.

  • Barry Lofty 8th Jul '21 - 12:30pm

    David Noble 11. 44 am/Expats 11.00 am@ I would like to add my agreement to your statements, well said!

  • Barry Lofty 8th Jul '21 - 12:33pm

    Sorry David Goble, I did not check before sending, put it down to age!!

  • @ Martin. Correct, it was a dive….. no contact….. developed as an art form in the English Premier Division and with both the Italy and England teams.

    The beautiful game ? At one time, maybe, but now when the opposition national anthem, and then the team, is booed continually by English ‘Patriots’ throughout the match ? As to the penalty, BBC news report :

    “Uefa has charged England after a laser pointer was directed at Denmark keeper Kasper Schmeichel during Wednesday’s Euro 2020 semi-final at Wembley. Television pictures showed a green light on Schmeichel’s face just before Harry Kane took an extra-time penalty”.

    Of course the ‘principled’ politicians – such as Johnson – will attempt to benefit by being associated with it. It’s all part of the white helmet yellow security flak jacket syndrome.

  • David Goble 8th Jul '21 - 12:55pm

    Barry Lofty 12:33 pm – I have exactly the same problem!

  • David Goble 8th Jul '21 - 2:43pm

    @ David Raw – 12:34 pm. Johnson: a ‘principled’ politician? Like Patel, last night seen sporting an England top? The only principle those two have is a very simple five-word principle: “Me first, last and always.”

  • John Marriott 8th Jul '21 - 3:00pm

    @David Goble
    What, England supporters behaving badly? It’s in their DNA, surely? Remember the Millwall supporters’ chant; “People hate us and we don’t care”.
    @David Raw
    Come on old son. You might live north of the border now; but surely you can give the England team and its management team some credit. What about all those Scottish COVID superspreaders, who descended uninvited on London a couple of weeks ago? Not even Saint Nicola could stop them!

  • @Nonconformistradical “What’s wrong with valuing human beings – whatever their origins – on the basis of their actions rather than any factors over which they themselves have no control?” Absolutely nothing wrong with that. My reply would be: What’s wrong with valuing people because (1) everyone has an intrinsic value as a human being, AND (2) because you value actions and achievements that people have done, AND (3) because you value people who are close to you – your family, your friends, the wider community you live in, and the country you live in with all its shared history, traditions and culture etc. The three things are not incompatible!

    @expats “So ‘My country right or wrong’?..” I did not say anything remotely like that, and I’d kinda appreciate it if you didn’t put words in my mouth that I haven’t said. It’s perfectly possible to be patriotic, to feel proud of your country AND simultaneously to recognise things that your Government (or if you prefer, your country) is doing wrong and that you want to change.

  • David Goble 8th Jul '21 - 4:23pm

    I became curious about patriotism and nationalism and turned to the Oxford dictionary for assistance. Patriotism is defined as “Vigorous support for one’s country”; nationalism is defined as “Patriotic feeling, principles or efforts”. There is then a notation to the effect that “An extreme form of this marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries”. This is a feeling which England supporters have in over-abundance. However, I would add that, until now, could not the England team appear to have a lot in common with the Prime Minister in that they over-promise and under-deliver?

  • Nonconformistradical 8th Jul '21 - 4:29pm

    @simon R
    “and the country you live in with all its shared history, traditions and culture etc.”

    History tends to be written by the winners does it not?

    Hence the issues which have arisen over over Britain’s colonial history. Issues which weren’t brought up talk about during my school education. Slavery. Exploitation. Not so great really. Issues to be ashamed about.

  • Simon R 8th Jul ’21 – 4:18pm…………….@expats “So ‘My country right or wrong’?..” I did not say anything remotely like that, and I’d kinda appreciate it if you didn’t put words in my mouth that I haven’t said. It’s perfectly possible to be patriotic, to feel proud of your country AND simultaneously to recognise things that your Government (or if you prefer, your country) is doing wrong and that you want to change…………

    So “my country, warts and all then”?

    As an aside..How much further in the removal democracy, tolerance, etc., must we go before ‘being proud of your country’ changes?

  • Most of you guys just don’t seem to like this country, but I do wonder if there’s anywhere you would be happy? The England team (and the overwhelming majority of the public) have been wonderful throughout the tournament and yet most of you seem desperate to find fault. Try doing a Monty Python and look on the bright side of life – you might enjoy it

  • @ David Goble. Didn’t you notice the inverted commas ?

    @ John Marriott. Ah can’t Mek it what it isn’t, John.

  • @David Goble “Patriotic feeling, principles or efforts”. There is then a notation to the effect that “An extreme form of this marked by a feeling of superiority over other countries”

    That’s the point where I tend to draw the line: To my mind, feeling a love for, or pride in, your own country is generally a good thing that helps to create a sense of community. But denigrating or any sense of superiority (or – worse – hatred) towards other countries is wrong. I personally tend to consider the former to be patriotism and the latter to be nationalism – that seems to me to be a good distinction.

  • @expats: So “my country, warts and all then”? – That’s actually probably not a bad description of how I feel: There are lots of warts and I want to work to change those and make the UK (and the World) better while at the same time valuing the many good things about the UK.

    “As an aside..How much further in the removal democracy, tolerance, etc., must we go before ‘being proud of your country’ changes?” Remember, I see patriotism as being based in part on valuing people as human beings and valuing our shared culture etc. In a sense, I love the UK in part because I see everyone in the UK as part of a huge extended family. And I also don’t see the UK as being synonymous with the Government: The Government is only one part of the UK. As an example this story is equally part of the UK: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-57763362 (I’d dare anyone to read that and not feel a little bit proud!). So my sense of pride in the UK is not really going to be effected by the Government doing a few things that I happen to disagree with. I’ll just feel a bit more resolved to work to get a different Government that might reverse those things.

    Having said that, I’d take issue with your description. Neither democracy nor tolerance are being removed, and it’s a daft over-exaggeration to make out they are. The Tories are fiddling a bit with some of our institutions and with the rules of elections in ways that I imagine we’d both agree are somewhat wrong, but elections will still be there. Free speech, via media and social media, will still be there. A robust civic society will still be there. Political parties will still be there. The ability to freely make your views known to your MP and councillors etc. will still be there. We remain easily a far more free and democratic country than you’d find in most of the World and I see no sign of any of that changing (even though I’d rather some things were moving in a different direction from what they are).

  • John Marriott 9th Jul '21 - 8:06am

    Time for predictions for Sunday evening?

    If they can run the legs off the old men in blue, England to win. If not, who knows? (How’s that for a ‘liberal’ answer?)

    And all the rest, flags, taking the knee, COVID spreading etc., patriotism? Let’s worry about that later. I remember people saying in 1966 that the nation, then in the grips of another recession, got a boost from England’s World Cup win, so perhaps we deserve a bit of good news after all we’ve been through – and it ain’t over yet, folks, believe me.

    In any case, there’s always the World Cup in the desert next year. This is a young
    England team after all. How about SIR Gareth for starters?

  • David Goble 9th Jul '21 - 8:20am

    @ Simon R – 9 Jul 12:00am. My feelings exactly!

  • Peter Martin 9th Jul '21 - 9:39am

    @ Martin,

    “…. I can remember when it was not considered unpatriotic to want England to win fairly.”

    We still do. Are you saying they didn’t?

    The penalty was the referee’s decision. It went to VAR for review. The laser shining was a different matter. As far as I know the Danish goalkeeper Kaspar Schmeichel , IMO the ‘Player of the Match’, hasn’t suggested he was aware of that at the time or that it put him off. If the culprit can be found then he should be banned for life from all football grounds. I doubt anyone would disagree with that.

  • @John Marriott

    I know nothing (!) … about Football. Even less than I do about politics!!!! And I haven’t seen Italy play. So my twopennyworth is probably not worth much!

    But I think England must be in with a good shout!

    I think Denmark’s goal was the only one they have conceded in the tournament – and even that was from a set piece. So they have been pretty difficult to win against. And against Denmark there were from memory (it’s all a bit hazy now… !) long stretches – the first quarter and most of the first half of extra time until they scored that they looked as if they would and really the only side that would…

    That said it will probably now put the kiss of death on them! I haven’t seen Italy and a side that looks good one day against one side can the next look pretty average the next. And football is often a game of narrow margins (a bit like FPTP politics!) even when you win convincingly! So I wouldn’t be surprised by it going to extra time or um… penalties! So long as Gareth Southgate doesn’t come on himself to take them… 🙂 !!!!!!

    Is that hedging my bets enough???!!!

    For those that haven’t seen it – there is a good article about football and politics, Southgate and the English team on the Guardian website at https://www.theguardian.com/football/2021/jul/08/england-and-southgate-stop-divisive-politicians-hijacking-euro-2020-success which I 90% very much agree with.

    Pointing out that Southgate said “I have never believed that we should just stick to football”

    and Southgate wrote: “It’s [player’s] duty to continue to interact with the public on matters such as equality, inclusivity and racial injustice, while using the power of their voices to help put debates on the table, raise awareness and educate.”

    And on “unthinking” nationalism or patriotism: “I understand that on this island, we have a desire to protect our values and traditions – as we should,” Southgate wrote, “but that shouldn’t come at the expense of introspection and progress.”

    Even if you disagree with taking the knee or players’ individual politics, Southgate must surely be right.

  • Barry Lofty 9th Jul '21 - 10:07am

    John Marriott @ Time for predictions Sunday evening. I don’t know what the result will be but England made it to final and have every chance of winning, just hope the fans behave themselves and it is a game worthy of the final and I do not have to witness Johnson hogging the headlines!

  • Nonconformistradical 9th Jul '21 - 11:37am

    @Simon R
    “The Tories are fiddling a bit with some of our institutions and with the rules of elections in ways that I imagine we’d both agree are somewhat wrong, but elections will still be there.”
    If the rules for elections have been fiddled with, possibly to the detriment of some legitimate voters more than others, isn’t that an example of ‘democracy in name only’. i.e. we might be able to vote but some of our votes aren’t going to make any difference whatsoever.

  • Simon R 9th Jul ’21 – 12:23am….

    Simon, I agree with almost of your thoughts…However, I disagree about ‘tinkering’; anything that involves ‘offshoring’ refugees and outlaws the ‘Kindertransport’ is rather more than that..It’s worrying, at least for me, that the steady erosion of tolerance by the last bunch of Tory Home Secretaries seems to be accelerating..They seem to believe that pandering to the baser desires of ‘little Englanders’ is a vote winner and, sadly, they seem to be right..

    BTW..The pub in whose garden I watched England/Germany will not be screening the final due to ‘fans’ behavior during the England/Denmark game; throwing beer over each other and other customers resulted in ‘physical’ problems..My local has decided, due to the same sort of behavior, to screen it inside with social distancing and a £10 booking fee to include a ‘free’ drink and light meal..

    Do I live in a ‘prissy’ area or have others found the same?

  • Nonconformistradical 9th Jul ’21 – 11:37am:
    If the rules for elections have been fiddled with, possibly to the detriment of some legitimate voters more than others, isn’t that an example of ‘democracy in name only’. i.e. we might be able to vote but some of our votes aren’t going to make any difference whatsoever.

    Not nearly as much as revoking a referendum decision.

  • Peter Martin 9th Jul '21 - 12:20pm

    @ Martin,

    Perhaps you are confusing me with someone else because I didn’t say it was unpatriotic to ask a technical question about the contact leading to the penalty decision. I’m just wondering why you’re doing it on LDV? Why not a sporting blog or Facebook page?

    I don’t remember any LDV discussions about borderline referring decisions in 6 nations rugby matches , or close LBW decisions in cricket matches. We’re always going to have some level of controversy in all sports. What’s special about football?

  • Peter Martin 9th Jul '21 - 2:25pm

    @ Martin,

    The article is about slightly more than just football. Max Wilkinson mentions LGBT rights and that the children of immigrant make up a substantial part of our team. Causes dear to Lib Dem hearts.

    Max also says:

    “It’s a shame some grumpy Conservative MPs don’t feel able to support our country at this exciting time. I hope they’ll change their mind, because this is a great time to be an England football fan.”

    I must admit that I was thinking that there might be quite a few “grumpy” Lib Dems, of which you were one, are having some trouble supporting our team too. But have I got this all wrong? Are you raising the issue of the penalty decision simply because you do have a genuine interest in the technical aspects of the game and have no ulterior motives?

    Well, OK, if this is what you are saying!

  • Football games can have political connotations at times. The so called ‘Match of the Century” between England and Hungary in 1953, not only started a revolution in football tactics but may also have been a catalyst for the 1956 Hungarian rising according to this BBC article https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-25033749
    “When the renowned Hungarian writer Peter Esterhazy was asked to name the most important personality of the 20th Century he chose Puskas. It might sound a little unsophisticated to place a footballer next to intellectual giants such as Proust, Esterhazy admitted, while also reassuring that this was not a question of his adopting a postmodern “anything goes” approach.

    According to Esterhazy the success of the Hungarian national team can be seen as a symbol of the rebellion of an oppressed population against their masters. Puskas became the “hero of the fairy-tale, who triumphs where ordinary men cannot”. By transgressing “the limitations of the personality”, he argued, “he symbolises me, in the same way as I can symbolise him”.
    Both England and Italy have suffered greatly from the Covid Pandemic. If the people of both countries can draw a some cheer and inspiration from reaching the Euro Finals at Wembley that that is all to the good. Being at Wembley, England have to win and not get caught out by superior tactics as they did in 1953. We don’t want to see Lorenzo Insigne becoming another Puskas.

  • @expats – nice we can find some agreement

    @Nonconformistradical – “isn’t that an example of ‘democracy in name only’.” No, I’d say it’s an example of our democracy not being perfect and needing some reform (and let’s face it, the World is never going to be perfect: There’ll always be something we can improve). Saying ‘in name only’ implies that there’s no real democracy at all, which is clearly wrong.

  • John Marriott 9th Jul '21 - 5:44pm

    @Joe Bourke
    It was largely hubris that did for England against Hungary back in 1953. I vividly remember seeing a TV interview between Kenneth ‘they think it’s all over’ Wolstenholme and the ‘Galloping Major’ via an interpreter before that first encounter, whose result was reinforced the following year in Budapest to the tune of 7-1.

    Hungary at the time were recognised everywhere except possibly over here is the best team in the world, having won the Olympic title in 1952. The team might have been classed as amateur; but, as most played for the army team, Honved, they were as good as professional. Given their status it is still amazing to me that they failed to win the 1954 World Cup, beaten in the final by West Germany, a team they thrashed in the preliminary rounds.

    Their further progress was shattered by the 1956 uprising when a diaspora of Hungarian talent benefitted teams such as Real Madrid and Barcelona. The ‘Magnificent Magyars’ were no more; but their ‘total football’ lived on into the 1970s with Johann Cruyff’s Netherlands team that reached two World Cup finals.

    I don’t know much about Mr Esterhazy; but I do know that his country’s soccer team was a breath of fresh air, which, like the Brazil teams that followed, showed the world why ‘the beautiful game’ still inspires. Let’s hope some of that inspiration rubs off on Southgate’s young players on Sunday evening.

  • Michael 1 9th Jul ’21 – 10:04am
    I think Denmark’s goal was the only one they have conceded in the tournament – and even that was from a set piece.

    Martin 8th Jul ’21 – 8:18am
    But was that extra time penalty deserved? At what point was there contact?

    Martin 8th Jul ’21 – 6:05pm:
    I can remember when it was not considered unpatriotic to want England to win fairly.

    On balance the result seems to be fair. It has since been pointed out that the Danish goal should have been disallowed as some of the attacking Danish players were less than the specified one metre (one yard) from the England ‘wall’ when the free kick was taken (FIFA Law 13, section 3).

  • expats 9th Jul ’21 – 12:04pm
    The pub in whose garden I watched England/Germany will not be screening the final due to ‘fans’ behaviour during the England/Denmark game; throwing beer over each other…

    Do I live in a ‘prissy’ area…?

    Only if they start throwing Prosecco.

  • David Goble 8th Jul ’21 – 11:44am:
    …it’s just a shame that the supporters seem to feel the need to boo every other team’s National Anthem. That, to me, shows nationalism and we all know where that leads!

    Nationalism leads to a patriotic desire to preserve the nation from economic, political, economic, or cultural domination by expansionary foreign powers. It’s imperialism – the desire to rule over other countries – which leads to conflict.

    Not so much Global Britain; more Little England.

    Ironically, the term ‘Little Englander’ was coined in the 19th. century to describe those who were opposed to British imperialism and empire building.

  • @Jeff – how did you manage to get the fancy formatting in your last three posts?

  • Some HTML tags can be used to format text. There used to be a list of which tags are allowable.

  • Jeff 10th Jul ’21 – 9:26pm….expats ..Do I live in a ‘prissy’ area…?Only if they start throwing Prosecco.

    Thank you..A welcome touch of humour. to make us smile. in a dark post match time..

  • Peter Martin 13th Jul '21 - 10:43am

    At least we can now get back to ‘normal’ football. Many of us support clubs who, at least in living memory, have never won anything except promotion from one division to the next. A ‘win’ the following season isn’t being relegated again. And if we are, we don’t cry about it.

    I can’t help thinking that most of those who are so critical of others for missing a penalty really don’t know what they are talking about, and have never had to do it themselves even at local league level. Playing football, at whatever level, is so much more enjoyable than watching it.

    Part of any ‘punishment’ for supporters who do overstep the mark should be to play a set number of games among themselves with compulsory penalty shoot out competitions thrown in.

  • Nonconformistradical 13th Jul '21 - 7:19pm

    @Simon R
    “As an example this story is equally part of the UK: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-57763362 (I’d dare anyone to read that and not feel a little bit proud!). ”
    I note from that story that the sponsor who provided the tickets (I have absolutely no problem with their doing so for a generous human being) was Vivo. From https://www.uefa.com/uefaeuro-2020/sponsors/
    Vivo appears to be a Chinese technologycompany. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vivo_(technology_company)

    I’m not sure what in particular might make you feel proud. OK, Gary Lineker – for whom I do have time – was trying to get tickets for Mr Astley but are you implying this wouldn’t have happened in another country? It wasn’t a British company which provided the tickets after all.

    I admit to feeling in the aftermath of that football match even more dubious and cynical about the concept of patriotism than I was before it, given the appalling behaviour of some England fans – not only at and after that particular match but the way some Danish supporters were treated.

    The treatment doled out on social media to black members of the England team is a disgrace to any purportedly civilised country.

    But nothing about that surprises me. England seems really a very divided country in attitudes of many of its people who don’t seem able to cope with people who aren’t quite like themselves.

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