DIARY: Football: the Syntagma Regime, Dying eurozone, Annoyment: Fairness, Dave at G20, Miliband’s banana, Pic of Week
What went wrong? everyone is asking — as if it isn’t obvious.
German coach, Franz Beckenbauer got part of it right when he said that the English Premier League, with its two cup competitions, leaves players exhausted by early summer and “burnt out” before major international competitions: the European Championship and the World Cup.
This is known as the Headless Chicken Syndrome, which was clearly visible in the team’s performances in South Africa. What to do about it?
1. Reduce the league by one third and disallow Premier clubs from playing in what used to be called the League Cup. That would help. What else?
2. Back in the early 1990s, Denmark failed to qualify for the European Nations Cup. The players were dismissed for the summer and they trailed off to the Med for a spot of the sybaritic life.
A few weeks later, Yugoslavia, which no longer exists, had to withdraw because of the wars in the Balkans. As next in line, Denmark was called up for the Finals. Back trooped the sun-soaked team, with no preparations whatever for the matches. They won the Championship.
England should adopt a similar relaxation routine before major tournaments.
3. I would also scrap the manager’s position and select an experienced team captain to pick the team and lead it on the pitch. That would meld the players better, and eliminate neurotic influences off the pitch and from the sidelines. It would also save the FA around £12 million a throw.
I’m no expert on football, but surely the team couldn’t do any worse under the Syntagma Regime?
The eurozone, and hence the European Union, is dying. Like a rotting mackerel in moonlight, it shines and stinks.
Labour’s continual bleating about “supporting the economy” for another year, now seems like a reedy squeak amid the worldwide scramble for retrenchment. California alone is said to have cut its spending this year by as much as Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Romania and Hungary combined, despite Obama’s scratchy comments against European deficit cutting.
The major cause of this growing panic is the eurozone’s acute sovereign debt crisis and the approaching European banking collapse. There’s not enough money to solve these problems. They won’t go away. The fuse is lit.
The Bank for International Settlements has stated that sovereign debt problems are nearing boiling point in half the world economy.
Unless Germany immolates itself to save the Mediterranean countries, a bewildering realignment of nations is about to take place. America can probably sit this out, given its self-sufficiency and huge in-house resources. With the Fed printing money again at industrial levels, the US will get through this crisis, emerging at a lower level of wealth, but comparatively richer than the rest of the world. China is not immune either and may have severely overstretched its resources.
For Continental Europe, almost certainly it will mean the splitting of the eurozone and the end of the European Union as we have known it. Quite how it will fragment, and what bits will be left clinging to each other is hard to say. But Germany will have to regurgitate the south of Europe and retrench within itself by relaunching the deutschmark. Berlin is said to be printing the banknotes as I write this.
Other northern countries will follow suit, while negotiating their own relationship with the central-European giant.
The UK — luckily, and only just, under a Tory regime — will retreat into itself and sort out the inherent problems. With discipline it could emerge the stronger for it.
The resulting chaos looks set to mark the end of the post WW2 global settlement of downgrading nation states in a world run by international socialists. In the longer run, despite the chaos, this could be a positive development.
Annoyment of the Week
Fairness is a very annoying word. It’s being used obsessively in British political discourse now. Why?
Ask someone to define it and it usually boils down to: “something that works to my advantage”. That’s how Gordon Brown’s Labour Party defined it. So too the Liberal Democrats who now use it more often than Labour, even from within the Coalition.
For most people, a vague sense of Robin Hood hangs about “fairness”. Taking from the rich and giving to the poor is seen to be fair, although taking anything that is not yours is clearly stealing.
In olden days, the Sheriff of Nottingham would store his loot … er … taxes in large caskets piled up in his personal treasury. There it would lie, perhaps for years, a huge chunk of spending power wrenched out of the local economy. No wonder they were mostly dirt poor.
Today, the wealthy are the main drivers of economic activity by investing their treasure in companies via the stock exchange or in special bank deposits. Cash is recycled into the most profitable channels, boosting jobs and growth.
Thus, if you take from the rich and give it to the poor, who do not invest because they have no surplus, you are depriving the economy of much of its driving force. In the end, that penalizes the poor most.
The simple concept of fairness used by politicians is merely a vote catcher. It has no validity in the real world. It’s usually linked with “equality” which doesn’t exist in reality either. A top-down equality, forced by the state, would look very like North Korea.
Real political fairness is when everyone has a genuine job, not a portfolio of welfare benefits.
David Cameron did very well at the G20 in Toronto. He has a natural way of being a Prime Minister that allows him to get along with all the others.
Where Gordon Brown had to chase Barack Obama into a hotel kitchen to beg for a bilateral on-camera, Cameron sat easily side by side with him, exchanging bottles of beer and jokes, while hitching a lift in the President’s personal helicopter. Obama even mentioned the “special relationship”, a subject which embarrasses most British people I know, because it’s not something that should be talked about.
I think Cameron is aware that “the business of America is business”. If you can do business, you’re special, if not, not.
Brown never came across as special. David Cameron does.
David Miliband says his worst mistake was not eating that banana before he hit the streets during the Party Conference.
Why would anyone walk out of their hotel carrying a banana anyway? Did he think it was cool? Was it his Mr Bean moment? Did he suppose it would humanize him?
He was offering himself for the leadership of the party at the time. Which party did he think it was? The Orangutan’s? Is he trying to tell us something?
On Newsnight last week he was in a hustings line-up for the Labour party leadership … again. What qualities could he bring to the job? Well, he said, “I wrote the Climate Change Bill”.
Most of the programme’s audience must have glazed over with thoughts of nine slop buckets in every kitchen, and a bill of £18 billion a year until 2050 to reduce Britain’s carbon footprint by 80%.
No other country is offering anything like as much. It will bankrupt future generations and lop only 1% from global carbon emissions. In other words, it will have no effect whatever. That Bill is now the law of the land.
Neither David Miliband, nor his even more geeky brother, Ed, can ever be trusted with the leadership of Britain. After Gordon Brown, we should investigate every leader they put up for the job with scrupulous cynicism.
The Mili brothers have already ruled themselves out.
Picture of the Week
The River Exe last Sunday morning. Click through twice on the pic for a larger image.
Photo by John Evans
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