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What football says about the nation state


THE ‘beautiful game’ teaches us the positive aspects of nationalism. To play it you have:

1.    A defined playing area.

2.    Qualifications as to players. Only these, plus the referee, are allowed on the pitch.

3.    A clearly expressed objective.

4.    Rules that set down how the game is played and influence its style.

5.    Impartial judges to enforce the rules.

Similarly, with a well-run country you have:

1.    Territory with clear, well-defended boundaries.

2.    Laws defining who is permitted to be there.

3.    An agreed understanding of what the country ‘is about’ and whom it serves.

4.    Legal and economic systems to achieve those goals.

5.    Impartial judges to enforce the rules.

The European Union does not work because it has:

1.    A vast domain with highly porous boundaries. Penetrate anywhere and you can go everywhere inside it.

2.    Rules for who should be allowed to reside, but which are overridden by international conventions on refugees that are easily abused by bogus claimants, at huge expense to the host country.

3.    A lack of mission. The EU had its origins in the desire to stop the awful military rivalry of Germany and France; then it became a useful protectionist cartel that maintained the prosperity of advanced European nations in the face of growing competition from much lower-paid foreign workforces; then an expansionist empire drunk with aggrandisement even if it meant acquiring countries that were at a different stage of development and so would cause economic strains; then a cat’s-paw for US/Nato aggression by creeping ever closer to the borders of Russia and ultimately destabilising Ukraine to provoke war and devastate Europe.

4.    A hobbling centralised bureaucracy unrestrained by democratic power.

5.    A legal system to enforce the arbitrary edicts of autocrats.

You would think that once free of all that, Britain would be ‘full steam ahead’. What do we have?

1.    Clearly defined and potentially defensible territory. We kept out the mighty German war machine in my father’s time.

2.    Rules for who should be allowed to reside, but which are overridden by international conventions on refugees that are easily abused by bogus claimants at huge expense to our country.

Foreign countries are happy to point them in our direction, in particular France. On top of that there are our Government’s policies on (much larger) legal immigration, partly to do with the right of families to be united, partly to fill gaps in the labour market that are allegedly unfillable otherwise.

Then there is the political right that likes to import cheap labour (externalising the costs of unemployment, ill-health etc associated with the underclass it displaces, plus costs of the health, education, housing and welfare needs of the imported people).

Meantime the Left has an insane abstract notion of the desirability of ‘diversity’ and how uncontrolled immigration will teach its nasty racist opponents a lesson – and somehow reconciles the idea of diversity with the fantasy that all people everywhere are basically the same underneath.

3.    A lack of agreed mission

It has taken centuries for Britain to restrain the arbitrary power of its monarchs. Our most precious possession is a Parliament that has the ability to call the Executive to account and so – we hope – limit the harm it can do.

But whom does the system serve?

Until relatively recently, the rich, profiting immensely from, e.g. colonies in the Caribbean and Pacific, and the murderous greed of the East India Company. The ordinary person had no representative in Parliament. At the height of the British Empire’s prosperity people in the East End of London were working all the hours for a pittance, eating rubbish off the roads and facing the workhouse when they weakened.

Those who decry socialism as if it were Stalin’s Red Menace should read Jack London’s 1903 book The People of the Abyss to see exactly why we need regulations for housing, pay and working conditions, education, healthcare and welfare. Lloyd George had to break the House of Lords’ veto with the 1911 Parliament Act, just to get a modest provision for the underprivileged, and by 1945 the people had endured 30 years of wars and economic depressions and were in no mood for ‘jam tomorrow’.

Yet since then the British Labour Party has lost its way.

To some extent it was always conflicted, unable to decide whether it existed to serve the poorer element of this country or to promote international socialism, even at the expense of the British worker. More recently Labour seems to have been caught up in abstract thinking. It wants to buy the world a Coke but doesn’t realise that the world may have little intention of buying us one in return. It was enthusiastic about EU membership, under some delusion that we would all be jolly pals together.

We have to decide whether this country is to serve its people. Absent that mission plus control of immigration and renegotiation of trade terms, the country’s books will never balance and eventually the Welfare State must shrink and collapse.

If we go on as we are, then as I have said before, only disaster will save us. The wokeist flimflam from the right is a cover for its old globalist agenda; if it and the left don’t wake up in the proper sense, both will need to be replaced, as Nigel Farage is already advocating for the Tories. They must become nationalist and pragmatic if the nation is to survive and prosper.

4.    and 5. If that last is to be the plan, we need to structure our law and economics accordingly. This means revising our relationship with international and supranational bodies and agreements. What a shame that we have forgotten the wisdom of Lord Palmerston: We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.

We need to launder our kit, get on to the world’s field and play our hearts out.

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Rolf Norfolk
Rolf Norfolk
Rolf Norfolk is a former teacher and retired independent financial adviser.

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