The Uncuts: 2021 Political Awards (Part II)

Culture War Winners: The England football team

England might have been denied the European Championship, but by the time the final Italian penalty went in, they had won arguably a more significant prize: victors in the battle of bended knee, the England football team effectively ended the main phase of the UK’s culture wars.

Priti Patel, Boris Johnson, various Tory MPs and right-wing commentators had bloviated about “gesture politics” and the Marxist connotations of taking the knee in the run-up to the European Championships. It was the high season of the Johnson premiership and the prevailing narrative was of an extraordinary leader who had used Brexit and cultural values to remake politics in the UK. The attack, like over Brexit, was on the values of the left for being unpatriotic, un-British and in direct opposition to the mainstream view of the country.

At the start, few in politics expected a team of pampered millionaires prone to serial under-performance when it mattered most, to win the argument. But the England team stood, and knelt, together. And most importantly, they won football matches.

This might have turned out very differently had they been dumped out of the tournament in the group stage. But they weren’t, they made it all the way to the final, capturing the imagination of England en route.

Suddenly, a new cast of characters were the ones who were unpatriotic for attacking the national football team. Tory MPs like Lee Anderson, who boycotted England matches because they took the knee, were made to look like fools. Drowned in the hope and adulation of a nation that backed their football team. The polls moved conclusively with the majority for those supporting the knee rising from +13% to +24%.

Unsurprisingly, since then, there has been very little from the Government or its outriders attempting to open new fronts in the culture wars. Their defeat was conclusive and has marked a shift in the battleground of politics. To appropriate the Sun’s headline after the 1992 general election, “It was England wot won it”

Own Goal of the Year: Owen Paterson

2021 is a story that can be told through its byelections. Hartlepool: the Boris Johnson wave seems set to turn all the north of England blue. Batley and Spen: Labour grasp victory from the jaws of further humiliating defeat in the north. Chesham and Amersham: the blue wall cracks. North Shropshire: even the most Brexit supporting seats will vote against a Brexit government if that government sufficiently annoys them on other issues.

Owen Paterson brought the North Shropshire humiliation on Johnson. By breaking the rules that govern the conduct of MPs. Then challenging his suspension as an MP that came with this breach in such an ill-considered way as to necessitate his resignation. The smart thing to do would have been to not break the rules. Failing this, quietly take the medicine that comes with doing so.

All political careers end in failure. Paterson’s lamentably so. Some have long deemed Johnson’s career a failure. Brexiteers begged to differ. They failed to do so in North Shropshire. A verdict that Lord Frost compounded shortly thereafter by resigning from Johnson’s government. Hartlepool seems a long time ago.

Global Inspiration: Mia Mottley

Barbados is a country moving on from its past and providing the whole world with inspiration for our common future. In the past year, as leader of the Labour Party and prime minister, Mia Mottley has led Barbados to becoming a republic, removing the Queen as the country’s head of state, and won praise for her cogency at COP-26. If the world does not listen to her, her country will submerge under rising sea levels. A victim, as under colonialism, of decisions made elsewhere.

A world of cooperation, not exploitation, is what Mottley advances: global moral strategic leadership. After the Queen’s reign in Barbados ended, Mottley appointed Rihanna as ‘national hero’. Let’s hope that Mottley’s message is as widely heard and celebrated as Rihanna’s music.


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2 Responses to “The Uncuts: 2021 Political Awards (Part II)”

  1. Most famous Footie match in history trenches France Xmas day world war 1, Brits and z Germans out it to one side for the day
    If politics was kept out of football then, it should be now, regarding the other post Yed well done Kathleen stock, but don’t forget our own Rosie Driffield and Bromwrn and clarir from labour womens declaration

  2. Anne says:

    Johnathan said it how it is people are fed up with talking about Brexit and tired by the restraints of Covid – they want life to go back to some kind of ‘normal.’ Although we have have to learn to live along side covid for some time, but we have done this in the past with other infectious diseases.
    It appears the Tories have chosen Johnson’s successor in Liz Truss, although she seems to say some silly things. As the NFU has said there is nothing for farmers in the recent trade deals with both New Zealand and Australia. Now offering more deals with India in exchange for more immigration. Now wasn’t one of the reasons for coming out of the EU over immigration.

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