Blame the Germans

Forget Capello, the ball, and the referee. The real culprit has got away with it again.
Peter Johnson
28 June 2010

Every two years or so the national psyche – or at least the media, which is much the same thing – turns from a manic up-swing into its depressive phase. But unlike that point in our national religion’s liturgy where all together acknowledge their sins and pray for forgiveness and a better life, with this newer cult depression brings the urge to blame someone, preferably as many people as possible, to express anger. Yet again we failed to realise our destiny, to punch above our weight, to stand tall on the world’s stage, to banish the haunting fear that 1966 was a one-off. We couldn’t even beat those old colonials, the Americans. Somebody must be punished.

This time it is all the fault of the manager with trendy glasses, of the funky ball and the vuvuzelas, of FIFA’s refusal to use technology, of the Football Association’s stupidity, of the Premiership clubs’ cupidity, of the players’ salaries, and of all the foreigners who play in the British leagues. In a new twist, made poignant by an historical parallel, it’s also the referee’s fault.

But I blame the Germans. Not only did they score more goals, which pundits tell us is the way to win matches, but they had obviously selected and trained their team so as to make this result likely. Their players were even able to speak English better than ours, so rendering totally useless the traditional cries of “man on” and “over here”. This is a sign not only of better organisation and planning, but of an unhealthy passion for the kind of flair and quality that transcends effort.

The Germans created the modern literature of guilt in the nineteenth century and have taken lashings of it since. But that's no reason to let them off lightly. It’s about time they realised just what they have done to us and felt bad about it. We’re not losers. Really. We are world-class. Yes, we are.

It’s all rather Old Testament, but as Fabio Capello penetratingly explained, “Issa gaymo food-bore.”


Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

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