Mark Perryman cached version 22/06/2018 22:24:27 en If a week is a long time in politics, it’s a very long time in the World Cup <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Both England’s performance – and the tournament atmosphere – in the first week of the Russia’s World Cup, have been better than many predicted, so far. But let’s not get carried away….</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// World Cup 2018.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// World Cup 2018.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="312" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p><em>Image: Hugh Tisdale, all rights reserved.</em></p> <p>It’s a well-worn footballing cliché that you can only beat the team in front of you. But England taking until the 91st minute to secure victory over Tunisia doesn’t look good. Nevertheless, three points in the bag, and a widely-expected second victory against Panama on Sunday, means England’s last 16 qualification might – might - have been secured by Monday, in which case, given the likely opponents of Senegal, Japan or Poland in the next round, thoughts will inevitably turn to a possible quarter-final.</p> <p>Without doubt this is English progress , of sorts, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Our natural status is beaten quarter-finalists. Prior to that golden day in ’66 it was the best we’d ever done, and we’ve only bettered this once since, at Italia ’90 all of 28 years ago. Sven was the last England manager to get us to a quarter-final, at World Cups 2002 and 2006 (as well as at Euro 2004 in between). If we make it this time Gareth Southgate will have got us back to where we belong, amongst the top 8 World Cup nations, but probably still a long way short of being among the top 4. It was ever thus. </p> <p>Thankfully the games are all being played out against the backdrop of a happy clappy <em>Ros! Si! Ya!</em>, despite the build-up full of dire predictions of heavy-handed policing, neo-Nazi hooligan gangs, racist attacks, homophobia and the grimmest environment imaginable. The build-up was the same for South Africa’s World Cup 2010. Travelling fans were promised muggings, car-jacking, and a race war. Nothing of the sort materialised. And again for Brazil 2014, political unrest combined with <em>Favela </em>drug gangs was predicted to ruin the World Cup for the supporters. Once again, no such incidents occurred.</p> <p>But before you know it, England will be preparing to head home, and the same lazy predications about the host nation will be being rolled out for next time.</p> <p>And we’ll also have the same curious phenomenon that when the matches kick off we go from one extreme, destination hellhole, to another, football paradise. </p> <p>The truth is Russia does have problems; an authoritarian regime, Greater Russian nationalism, massive inequalities of wealth distribution, racism, homophobia and a violent fan sub-culture. None of these were ever going to be allowed to ruin a World Cup which is Russia’s unmatchable opportunity to showcase the best of its nation to the world. And none of them have gone away either just because a game of football is underway. As with an England win, against Tunisia, the whistle blows and all sense of perspective is booted out of the window. </p> <p>We already know it will be Qatar hosting the tournament in 2022, followed by the successful joint bid of USA, Canada and Mexico for 2026. And England is apparently considering a joint British bid for 2030 with the Scots and Welsh FAs, which will face competition from the Uruguay, Argentina, Paraguay joint bid, and no doubt others. These tri-nation hosts are a result of the World Cup’s expansion from the current 32 team format to a gargantuan 48. </p> <p>The global reach of football is continuing so some kind of increase is justified, as it was when the tournament grew first from 16 to 24 nations for Spain ‘82, then again to 32 for France ‘98 and the same since then. But 48 is too big a jump. It creates too massive a tournament, too many games (many of which will be meaningless), and too big a disparity in ability. 40 would have been a much better compromise, 8 groups of 5 rather than the current 8 groups of 4, a step-up of 8 teams as every previous expansion has been. Oh – and with all the extra places awarded to the under-represented continents, aka anywhere but Europe and South America (sorry Scotland!). </p> <p>A more modest increase in competitor nations would also preserve the feasibility of single host nations. Every previous one has helped define how a World Cup is consumed and remembered almost as much as the football on the pitch and the eventual winner. The one exception, when Japan and South Korea jointly hosted World Cup 2002, just about worked, thanks to the extraordinary success of the Korean team and their Red Army of supporters as they reached the semis, though Japan largely defined the consumption of the football and Brazil’s eventual victory in the Tokyo final. </p> <p>Here’s an idea. 2030 is the centenary World Cup. The first one took place in Uruguay and England, like most of the other European nations, shamefully chose to boycott it because South America was too far away and the footballing world revolves around Europe, or in England’s case, ourselves.</p> <p>So why not award hosting 2030 now to Uruguay, and abandon the expensive and corruptible bidding process? The world of football could give every assistance to this one small nation to host it. It could organise it as a celebration of one hundred years’ worth of the growing international appeal of our game, the people’s game. It could fly in the face of all that FIFA has become. </p> <p>Well - like an England semi (even my optimism of the will has its limits) we’re allowed our World Cup dreams, aren’t we?</p><p><em>Mark Perryman is the co-founder of Philosophy Football. Their England World Cup T-shirt is available from&nbsp;<a href="">here</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/mark-perryman/thirty-two-nations-under-groove">Thirty-two nations under a groove</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Fri, 22 Jun 2018 17:45:18 +0000 Mark Perryman 118559 at Thirty-two nations under a groove <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Will the World Cup which opens today be an orgy of petty-minded nationalism? Philosophy Football’s Mark Perryman doesn’t think so.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// WC 2018 artwork.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// WC 2018 artwork.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="151" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>2018 World Cup 32 Nations - Original illustration by Hugh Tisdale</em></p><p>In between the matches from Russia over the next few weeks here’s a trivia question to test mates’ footballing knowledge: Which is the only World Cup squad with the entire list of players playing in their own country’s domestic league?</p><p>Easy! Easy! England, of course. Except it’s not just a knowledge of football that provides the answer but politics, history and culture too.</p> <p>The domesticity of our players betrays a certain very English parochialism, more comfortable at home than abroad. Europe after all is a foreign country. </p> <p>It also tells us about the political economy of the game, and how English clubs pay heaps more dosh than most overseas outfits.</p> <p>And it tells us about an Anglo-superiority complex. Who in England’s 2018 squad would make it as a certain first team starter at a top German, Italian or Spanish club? Precious few. There’s a number who aren’t even regular starters at their <em>own</em> clubs, edged out by Johnny Foreigner’s talent.</p> <p>England’s second most successful World Cup campaign remains Italia ’90. Of England’s starting line-up Lineker had played in Spain, for Barcelona, Waddle was then playing for Marseille in France. Gazza, Des Walker and Platt all went on to play for Italian clubs. And this was by no means unusual. As for the victorious West Germany side none of them played in England (though 4 years later Klinsmann did end up being snapped up by an English side).</p> <p>The lesson drawn from Italia ’90 was that English football had the potential to recover its reputation and popularity following the post-Heysel banning of our club sides from European competition and the human tragedy of Hillsborough. </p> <p>How? Like so much else in that era, through neoliberal deregulation. The FA effectively gave up its right to govern the elite level of the game by floating off the top division (formerly the First Division and now the Premier League) to be run by the clubs themselves. With Murdoch in hot pursuit, having realised that broadcasting live football was the only way to save his fledgling satellite TV company, Sky, the deregulation accelerated via the vast wealth TV contracts were to provide.</p> <p>Neoliberalism’s sister project, globalisation, produces counter-reactions - from Catalan and Scottish independence movements, to Donald Trump’s populist America First nationalism, and anti-migrant movements across Europe too. In football we see the persistent influence of racism amongst certain fan subcultures, co-existing with the huge influx of foreign players.</p> <p>Again the World Cup illustrates this. Consulting my handy pocket World Cup squads guide, a tasty looking English Premier League eleven out in Russia would line up like this: De Gea in goal, Mendy, Monreal and Christensen providing three at the back, Pogba, Eriksen, Hazard and De Bruyne packing the midfield, up front Firmino, Aguero, and Salah. And there’s plenty more where that lot came from. Precious few fans in their right minds are going to complain about these particular migrant workers, over here, nicking our players’ jobs, with their foreign ways and the like. So racist attitudes are to that extent marginalised.</p> <p>In every division, and even down into the non-league clubs, a football club is easily the most globalised public institution in English society we can think of. The owners, the management and coaching staff, the players, the fan-base, the sponsors and advertisers , the TV viewing public - all are globalised and few but the most embittered object. </p> <p>This doesn’t mean the process is entirely unproblematic. Football mythologises itself as the people’s game, but it has never been thus. Clubs were owned by the local butcher baker and candlestick maker, in Man Utd’s case quite literally. The Edwards Family were butchers who sold the club they owned off to the Glazers, US sports moguls. A local business elite owned the game in their own local interest, the only difference now is that it’s a global business elite running it in their own trans-national interest. Resistance to absent owners erupts from time to time, though homegrown owners are often not much better - just look at West Ham.</p><p>But what frames modern fan culture most of all is a popular cosmopolitanism. While England agonises over how and when it will exit Europe, every football club’s ambition is to get into Europe. This is our cultural barricade against the hateful rise of the Football Lads Alliance. Their divisive values are the complete opposite to the way the modern game is consumed and supported. For every fan cheering on England over the next few weeks there will be others keeping an interested and supportive eye on how their club’s foreign players are doing, and most importantly many are fully capable of doing both. One nation, thirty-two nations, for the next three and a week under the same groove.</p> <p>For this precious moment football can be a powerful resistance to racism and division. </p> <p>And despite FIFA’s worst efforts it’s broadly equitable too. What have the superpowers of the USA, Russia and China got in common?</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="140" height="116" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xsmall" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>&nbsp;They’ve not got one World Cup between them. And that’s because international football is regulated. No country on earth, however rich, is ever going to persuade Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo to sign for them. If that’s not neoliberal globalisation turned on its economic head into something a tad better I don’t know what is.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p><em>The Thirty-Two Nations Philosophy Football T-shirt is available from</em> <a href="">Philosophy Football</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/how-to-make-english-football-good-again-view-from-below">How to make English football good again - the view from below</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/arthur-ituassu/brazil-protest-and-world-cup">Brazil, protest and the World Cup</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/open-letter-in-support-of-ukrainian-political-prisoners">An appeal to the representatives of countries who are expected to travel to the World Cup football games in Russia</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Thu, 14 Jun 2018 06:01:33 +0000 Mark Perryman 118386 at From Bah Humbug to Oh Jeremy Corbyn – the best political books of 2017 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Never mind miserabilism - this Christmas Mark Perryman discovers plenty of books full of reasons to be cheerful.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="lead " title="" width="283" height="400" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Image: The Corbyn Comic Book</em></p><p>Trump, North Korea, sexual harassment, Grenfell, a weak and wobbly government shored up by a coalition of hell with the DUP. Much about 2017 seemed pretty bleak. But Christmas, whatever our faith or none, is a time of hope, so my selection of the year’s most compelling political books tend to err on the side of hopefulness, with no apologies.</p> <h2>Labour…and beyond</h2> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="// rebirth_0.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// rebirth_0.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="376" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>There’s plenty of the customary mix of pessimistic intellect and optimistic will in the sublimely good, and substantially updated post-election second edition of Richard Seymour’s <a href="">Corbyn: The Strange Rebirth of Radical Politics</a>. For a practical insight into how that radical politics is being organised in and around Labour, <a href="">The Way of the Activist</a> by Jamie Driscoll and Rachel Broadbent, published by the excellent <a href="">Talk Socialism</a> political education group, provides a how-to guide rare in the scale of its imagination and ambition. &nbsp;</p> <p>Chris Nineham’s <a href="">How The Establishment Lost Control </a>builds on his earlier account of the Stop the War movement <a href="">The People v Tony Blair </a>to make a compelling case for a left politics that is rooted in <em>movement</em> rather than <em>party</em>. The question is whether - without the leverage of a well-organised left within the Labour party, yet open to the movements Chris describes – the change can be effected. John Medhurst’s <a href="">That Option No Other Exists</a> since it was published in 2014 has become the definitive account of both these necessities – and of their limitations. </p> <p>Perhaps the best way of combining both <em>party</em> and <em>movement</em> options, in other words in, but not restricted by, Labour, is the popularising of radical ideas. And there’s few better starting points for such an ambition than George Monbiot’s latest book <a href="">Out of the Wreckage</a> - which describes its purpose as “a new politics for an age of crisis.” </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="// future that never happened.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// future that never happened.jpg" alt="" title="" width="240" height="368" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Or perhaps its best this Christmas simply to sit back, kick off the slippers and reflect on how the past twenty years has ended up with Jeremy Corbyn (Jeremy Corbyn!) closer to Number Ten than anyone, including himself, could ever have imagined. John O’Farrell tells the story of those two decades in his own unique, and richly amusing, style, <a href="">Things Can Only Get Worse?</a> And as for where it all started, Richard Power Sayeed establishes himself as the definitive critical chronicler of the Blair years with his superb book <a href="">1997: The Future That Never Happened.</a> <span></span></p> <h2>Bigger ambitions</h2> <p>To make a success of Corbynism demands a wider perspective that both includes Labour but goes beyond it too. Helping us to understand the nature of the politics this now demands is <a href="">Platform Capitalism</a> by Nick Srnicek, a view of the economic terrain on which Labour would seek to govern for the many, and all that.&nbsp; </p> <p>To come anywhere close to fulfilling that ambition will require reinventing what we mean by the collective, aka ‘the many’. It’s a process made a tad easier by a reading of Lynne Segal’s new book, <a href="">Radical Happiness </a>- a project she describes as rediscovering processes towards creating ‘moments of collective joy.’ <a href="">The Mask and The Flag</a>&nbsp;by Paulo Gerbaudo foregrounds the thinking of a new generation of activist-intellectuals as they also seek to map out a similar project towards reinventing collective action. And the collection <a href="">Beautiful Rising</a> showcases this process on a global scale with one inspiring example after another. </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="240" height="378" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>One domestic example was the 2010-11 resistance to the tripling of tuition fees, a story now retold in <a href="">Student Revolt</a> by Matt Myers. Matt describes the lasting political legacy of these protests as an ‘austerity generation’ many of whom are now supportive of, and involved in, Corbynism. But the broader impact remains the wholesale, and disastrous marketisation of higher education, the consequences of which are powerfully described by Sinéad Murphy in her book <a href="">Zombie University</a>, a right horror show. &nbsp;</p> <h2>Trump &amp; Brexit…</h2> <p>None of this pales into insignificance, of course, compared to the sheer horror show of Trump’s Presidential reign - but the sheer awfulness of him has proved more than enough to dominate much of 2017. <a href="">Why Bad Governments Happen To Good People</a> is Danny Katch’s handy explanation of how America ended up with Trump in charge.&nbsp; </p> <p>Back in Britain the next General Election, barring a major miracle, will be fought post-Brexit. So understanding the likely impact of this rupture is vital in preparing for Labour not just to do better next time but to win. In <a href="">The Lure of Greatness</a> author and <a href="">openDemocracy</a> founder Anthony Barnett gets away from the liberals’ blame game to explain the reasons why Brexit happened - and carves out a future politics that can reverse those reasons. </p> <p>But before we get there there’s a very real likelihood of things turning nasty, with food prices, even shortages too, quite possibly at the centre of such tensions. <a href="">Bittersweet Brexit</a> by Charlie Clutterbuck is the first serious attempt to explore the #ToryBrexit consequences for farming, land and food inflation. </p> <p>One of the chief architects of this almighty ‘uck up is Boris Johnson. For too long treated as a loveable rogue, he is in fact both hapless and dangerous, a lethal combination brilliantly exposed in Douglas Murphy’s account of his tenure as London Mayor <a href="">Nincompoopolis</a>.&nbsp; </p> <h2>Memoir and culture</h2> <p>More ways out of this mess are offered by Harry Leslie Smith’s powerfully written <a href="">Don’t Let My Past Be Your Future,</a> which continues this ninetysomething author’s call to arms (of the metaphorical variety) with a passion and poignancy still all too rare in our body politic. Stuart Maconie revisits that past which framed Harry’s lifetime of views with his <a href="">Long Road from Jarrow</a>, an imaginative tracing of the 1936 Jarrow March, then and now.</p> <p>Or for a very different take on how the legacy of yesteryear’s politics shapes the politics of today and tomorrow try the innovative, and very challenging approach of&nbsp;<a href="">Revolutionary Keywords for a New Left </a>where author Ian Parker offers a redefinition of the vocabulary of change, A-Z.</p> <p>Precious few writers manage to effortlessly mix popular culture with radical politics. Yet without that combination any prospect of change is seriously reduced. One author who did combine the two was David Widgery, a selection of whose writings have been re-issued with the great title <a href="">Against Miserabilism</a>. One of the finest exponents today of making these kinds of connections is Laurie Penny. Her latest book of essays is <a href="">Bitch Doctrine </a>and not one of them fails to impress with the sharpness of wit, tone and politics.&nbsp;</p> <p>A towering influence over the indivisible connection of politics and culture remains Stuart Hall, so it’s hugely welcome that following other recent collections of Stuart’s work a new selection of his lectures on race, ethnicity and nation has been published as <a href="">The Fateful Triangle</a>. In this era of the revival of a populist-racist Right this is an absolutely essential read towards what Stuart Hall once described as an ‘alternative logic.’ </p> <p>But none of this historiography makes much sense if in the process the personal is divorced from the political. Michael Rosen’s <a href="">So They Call You Pisher?</a> avoids the latter pitfall. As a memoir of growing up in a London East End, Jewish Communist household the book combines sublimely rich humour and a sharp politics. </p> <p>Corbynism hasn’t quite yet successfully fused radical politics with popular culture. An example of just how huge a part of the necessary struggle this is, is retold by Rich Blackman in his short book <a href="">Forty Miles of Bad Road </a>which uncovers how musicians came together to help promote unity after the 1958 Notting Hill Race Riots. A perhaps more familiar era is revisited by Matthew Worley’s <a href="">No Future</a> detailing the collision of punk, politics and youth culture 1976-84. Heady days for those who lived through them. </p> <h2>Beyond 1917…</h2> <p>The Left has a bit of a thing about its own history, in particular communist history. Too often trapped by the past, instead the inclination should be to be liberated by it, via an exploration of what became possible and what proved to be impossible. The ideal journal to accompany such an endeavour is <a href="">Twentieth Century Communism</a> whose latest edition uses the 1917 Centenary to revisit the differing politics of previous commemorations, testament to the journal’s unpredictable breadth and insightful depth. </p> <p>A very different approach is taken by a long-time supporter of <em>Philosophy Football</em> Pete Ayrton with <a href="">Revolution</a>!<em> </em>– a revealing collection of original writing from those Ten Days that shook the proverbial one hundred years ago, and available as an exclusive signed first edition from <a href="">here.</a> </p> <p>Easily the most challenging account of 1917 is provided by John Medhurst’s <a href="">No Less Than Mystic</a>. His deconstruction of the history is both scathing of the errors yet incontrovertibly hopeful about the unfulfilled potential.&nbsp; </p> <p>Any account of the Communist tradition has to be about more than just 1917. Another special edition from Twentieth Century Communism <a href="">Weimar Communism</a> details the extraordinary rise of the most powerful Communist Party outside of Revolutionary Russia, the German Communist Party, and its eventual eclipse by the parallel rise of Hitler’s Nazis.&nbsp; </p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="240" height="366" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_medium" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>A splendidly different account is provided in <a href="">Red International and Black Caribbean</a> by Margaret Stevens where she uncovers the largely hidden history of Communist organisation in Mexico, the West Indies and New York City during the inter-ear years, 1919-1939. Of course the period since 1945, and again since ’89, have convulsed whatever remained of the Communist ideal after those early days shaking the world. Mike Makin-Waite’s <a href="">Communism and Democracy</a> provides an insightfully original account of the twists, turns and missed opportunities from there to here without ever losing sight what remains alive, if not always kicking. </p> <p>The second volume edited by Evan Smith and Matthew Worley on the British Far Left <a href="">Waiting for the Revolution</a> is an account of post 1956 communists and revolutionaries of various varieties who lost their way on more than one occasion but for all that kept on, keeping on, a persistence which isn’t all bad, or all good either, and this collection helps us to understand why. </p> <h2>Poetry</h2> <p>One fusion of the political and the cultural is poetry. Rosy Carrick’s new edition of the epic Mayakovsky poem <a href="">Valdimir Ilyich Lenin</a> is 197 pages’ worth proof positive of that. Or for a more current exponent look no further than Michael Rosen (again) and his latest poetry collection <a href="">Listening to a Pogrom on the Radio.</a> </p> <p>And there are plenty more from where Michael is coming from. The Bread and Roses 2017 Poetry Anthology <a href="">On Fighting On! </a>Brings together a selection of some of the many wordsmiths working on the poetry front.</p> <h2>Children</h2> <p>And amongst all this reading what about something for the children?</p> <p><a href="">Detective Nosegoode and The Museum Robbery</a> by Polish children’s author Marian Orton´ is every bit as good as the previous two in this series for junior crimefighters. A newly revised version of a familiar tale of all things Scroogelike Michael Rosen’s&nbsp; (yes, that man again) <a href="">Bah! Humbug!</a> is an absolute seasonal treat.</p> <h2>And lastly the two must-have stocking fillers…</h2> <p>Apart from all these reads for the most stylishly political stocking-filler this year’s <a href="">Verso Radical Diary</a> is every much a must-have as the 2017 debut edition. &nbsp;</p> <p>And the political book of the seasonal quarter? After the year we’ve had combined with a passion for mixing politics, popular culture and humour there was only ever one contender. The incredibly original, with a vast range of wonderful artists contributing, <a href=";edition_id=323">The Corbyn Comic Book</a> funny, touching, meaningful. <em>Oh 2017</em>… as the song might go, what could next year possibly bring?</p> <p><strong>Note</strong> <em>No links in the review are to</em> Amazon, <em>if you can avoid buying from tax dodgers please do.</em></p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Fri, 15 Dec 2017 14:55:45 +0000 Mark Perryman 115352 at The revolution will not be merchandised <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As we approach the 100 year anniversary of the Russian revolution, a variety of cultural responses are floating around – but Corbyn mugs and cynical movies don't capture the visionary optimism we need.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="382" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><em>Image: Chimneys plate, part of the 1917 centenary collection.</em></p><p>1985. Thatcherism reigned triumphant. The Miners’ Strike was coming to a sorry end. Reagan in the White House, the second Cold War dominating what remained of international relations. Curious, then, that the Crafts Council of England and Wales should choose to open the year with an exhibition of Soviet textiles, fashion and ceramics 1917-1935, <em>Art into Production</em>.</p><p>In 2017 there has been a whole host of Russian Revolution centenary exhibitions, conferences, TV specials and more. But in 1985? The extraordinary richness of the art was however enough to reverse the pessimism that leftist visitors to the exhibition like myself were suffering from as any prospect of a progressive, let alone a socialist, politics receded. As the emotional downturn of opportunities for change in turn created bitter divisions in and around a Left in retreat.</p> <p>How could a dash of post-1917 art impact upon this? In the beautifully produced exhibition catalogue, there were some lines extracted from <em>Komsomol’skaya Pravda</em>, the newspaper of the Young Communist League, 28th April 1928 which I’ve been reminded of as the 1917 centenary fast approached, with a resurgent Corbynite Left: &nbsp;</p> <p>“We must not accept this ‘non-resistance’. The cultural revolution, like the bugler’s trumpet, is summoning for examination and revaluation everything which mobilises or poisons our consciousness, our will and our readiness for battle!”</p> <p>So far. So familiar. The over-familiar instrumentalism of almost all versions of socialist, and communist too, cultural politics.&nbsp; But then the extract took a less predictable turn:&nbsp; </p> <p>“In this ‘parade’ of objects there are no non-combatants – nor can there be! Plates and cups, ie things we see daily, several times a day, which can do their bit for the organising of consciousness – these occupy an important place.”</p> <p>Back in 1985, this wasn’t the familiar socialist fare I was used to (despite a susceptibility to a a workerist ‘prolecult’ tendency). But the colourful, often highly feminised, designs throughout the exhibition indicated something different. What the young communists of 1928 were mapping out was a cultural politics that was both all-embracing and highly practical. Pluralist and pre-figurative, you might say. And they weren’t going to put up with any naysayers and feet draggers either: </p> <p>“We demand that a plate should fulfil its social function. We demand that the role of everyday objects should not be forgotten by our young specialist artists and the bodies in charge of our industry.” </p> <p>It is easy to mock the idealism but the boldly radical ambition is invaluable.&nbsp; This is what <em>Art into Production</em> all those years ago highlighted and I’ve never forgotten it.&nbsp; More recently Owen Hatherley’s peerless book <a href=""><em>Landscapes of Communism</em></a> does something similar via the architecture of the Soviet era. As does poet Rosy Carrick’s stunning reading of Mayakovsky’s epic poem <a href=""><em>Lenin</em></a>. &nbsp;And cartoonist Tim Sanders’ imaginative depiction of the events of October 1917 via the subversive idiom of a graphic novel, <a href=""><em>Russia’s Red Year</em>. </a>&nbsp;</p> <p>All three sit outside the orthodoxy of an establishment culture that treats the Russian Revolution purely as an historical event. They also resist the tendency on parts of the Left to divorce their political interpretation of the revolution from a broader understanding of the heady idealism 1917 inspired but could never entirely discipline to its own ends. </p> <p>Such artistic responses are thus welcome additions to the centenary celebrations – and, I’d suggest, also an approach to understanding the Russian Revolution that can be traced back to those young Communists of 1928 exhorting the production of socialist plates, cups and saucers. </p> <p>Also coinciding with the centenary has been the release of Armando Iannucci’s blockbuster comedy <a href=""><em>The Death of Stalin</em></a>. The man behind the brilliantly funny <em>The Thick of It</em> which skewered the Blairite world of spin and soundbites with brutal wit has turned to an era that the film’s posters mischievously describe as ‘a comedy of terrors’. Only the most po-faced would stifle the laughs as one wisecrack after another demolishes what Stalinism had turned Soviet Russia into. But the film ends up being satirical for the sake of a cheap laugh. The cynicism of pointlessness narrows the prospects for change and all we are left with is the motto ‘who cares, who wins’. &nbsp;This is what the likes of Iannucci, <em>Private Eye</em> and <em>Have I Got News for You </em>thrive on, a manufactured anti-politics with the assumption that everybody is as bad as each other and never mind causes or consequences. The political clowning of Boris Johnson becomes the natural expression of all this, a rebel without a cause except his own personal advancement. Oh c’mon he’s only having a laugh, and what’s the harm in that.&nbsp; £350m for the NHS thanks to #Brexit has at last partly put paid to that sorry myth. </p> <p>So instead of rollicking in the cinema aisles as one <em>Death of Stalin</em> joke piles into another I prefer instead the necessity of having some smashing plates, mugs and saucers. Framed by the utopian idealism for a better world than the one that Russians had endured in the years preceding 1917, visualising via the most vivid combination of imagination, originality and clash of colours, the prospect of constructing a new society. When that hopeful vision is absent then our capacity to imagine what change might look like lacks something vital too. A sentiment worth preserving via some tasty antique ceramics. Not trapped by the past - that way lies dogma and cultural conservatism. But there is something wrong too with the ahistorical version of modernity underpinning 1990s Blairism. The idea that if it’s old it must be crap - the idea, therefore, that the past could therefore never inspire the present towards changing the future. </p> <p>Ideals can be given practical expression via their lived presence in the everyday. Pasokification across Europe has meant social democracy in retreat. But this time it is accompanied by an insurgent, popular Left that is seeking to transcend a wholesale surrender to neoliberalism. The advances are patchy and incomplete, not remotely revolutionary according to the 1917 model - but decidedly radical and seeking a decisive rupture with the existing system of ideas. In 2017 that’s more than enough for me.</p> <p>&nbsp;So where do the plates, mugs and cups of 1917 fit in to all of this? &nbsp;Not to merchandise but to politicise. The revolutionary ceramics, and the process of production the Young Communists demanded is entirely different from the naff &nbsp;trinkets and trifles emblazoned with Jeremy Corbyn’s name and face that Labour was flogging at party conference (no doubt on the stocking-filler list for a fair few Corbynite Christmas treats too). Harmless fun? Well, sort of (and to declare an interest yes Philosophy Football has produced its own <a href="">COR 8YN</a> T-shirt). But if that is the scale of our imagination and productive capacity it just shows how far we still have to go to get anywhere close to those 1917 plates.&nbsp; What might a 2017 version look like, fired up and framed by The Corbyn Effect? That’s the kind of question I’d like to hear both being asked, and answered with practical output. And in that process of originality and production creating a great variety of means to identify with a politics that can effect a wholesale shift in the balance of forces from those few, to our many. Now that’s what I call politics.</p> <p><em>The 1917 centenary plates collection reproducing original Soviet designs is available from</em> <a href="">;</a></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/od-russia/uilleam-blacker/imperialism-at-royal-academy">Russifying revolutionary art at the Royal Academy </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/od-russia/kirill-kobrin/od-russia/kirill-kobrin/anniversary-not-anniversary-ireland-russia">When is an anniversary not an anniversary?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Fri, 03 Nov 2017 14:28:25 +0000 Mark Perryman 114442 at Rising from the abyss - the Corbyn effect <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In an exclusive and edited extract from his new book <em>The Corbyn Effect,</em> Mark Perryman measures the scale of Labour’s 2017 recovery.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// Corbyn Effect Final front n back jpeg.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// Corbyn Effect Final front n back jpeg.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="344" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>In February 2017 Labour faced two by-elections. Losing one and with a much reduced majority in the other, the results seemed to leave Labour staring into the abyss.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">In the <em>Guardian</em> Jonathan Freedland (who admits he is one of the “people who warned Corbyn would be a disaster from the start”) advised:</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“Those who voted in good faith for Jeremy Corbyn need to ask themselves what they value more – the dreams they projected on to this one man or the immediate need to hold back a government wreaking intolerable damage on this country’s future.” </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Whilst we’re revisiting Corbyn’s critics and their unqualified certainty of the disastrous outcome awaiting Labour under his leadership, it is worth recalling the open letter from Jamie Reed MP, whose subsequent resignation triggered the by-election Labour lost:</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“At Prime Minister’s Questions today, an inexplicable development occurred whereby David Cameron spoke for the overwhelming majority of Labour MPs and Labour voters everywhere ‘it might be in my party’s interests for him (Jeremy Corbyn) to sit there, it is not in the national interest. I would say for heaven’s sake man, go!'...The Labour Party stands for a moral purpose that you do not share. We exist to redistribute power, wealth and opportunity through parliamentary democracy. Your (Jeremy Corbyn) actions have repeatedly shown that you do not believe that.” </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Serving up humble pie to the Corbyn critics is of course no recipe for the unity Labour now craves if it is to turn a decent second into first place. But we need to understand <em>why</em> those who convinced themselves - and did their best to convince the rest of us - of Labour’s dismal electoral prospects under Corbyn, got it so wrong. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Of course Jeremy has form as a serial backbench rebel himself. But he was ignored by most of the media with only rare appearances in the TV and radio studios, and no columnists or leader-writers to champion his case let alone his credentials as an alternative party leader. In contrast, Jamie, Tristram, Jess, Chuka, Dan and the rest enjoyed all these advantages.</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="// effect front cover.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// effect front cover.png" alt="" title="" width="350" height="553" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>But Labour’s crisis wasn’t ever as simple as just ‘their lot versus our lot’. It was best summed up by the prospect of ‘Pasokification’. Contributor to <em>The Corbyn Effect</em> James Doran describes the characteristics - the deep-seated unpopularity of austerity which were, pre-Corbyn, not being represented by any party’s electoral programme. The British Labour Party’s prospects were worsened by headlong and seemingly unstoppable decline of Scottish Labour, the break-up of any semblance of Labour Party unity, and Labour’s inability to transform its own outmoded organisational culture. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">The eventual success of Corbynism in 2017 can to some extent be judged by its ability to address each factor. The SNP failed to popularise its case for a second independence referendum, which shifted the political debate north of the border away from constitutional matters and sparked a Scottish Labour recovery. The election campaign everywhere focussed on Jeremy’s growing popular appeal. And the manifesto, welcomed by previous regular Corbyn critic Polly Toynbee as “a cornucopia of delights”, created a platform for the left populism Corbyn had long promised to deliver. For the duration of the election Jeremy was no longer lumbered with voluble dissent from his rebellious MPs. And the ground campaign of Labour on the proverbial doorstep at last provided the space for the huge influx of new members to become involved in the party they had joined. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">The magnitude of Corbyn’s achievement in avoiding ‘Pasokification’ has barely been noticed by a notoriously parochial English left and media commentators. Have they not noticed the headlong decline of those European social-democractic parties that have followed the favoured centrist route - not just PASOK in Greece, but Parti Socialiste in France, Partito Democratico in Italy, Partido Socialista in Spain, and the Dutch and Irish Labour parties? Adhering to the neo-liberal consensus and indistinguishable from their centre-right opponents, voters preferred the real thing while social democracy found itself outflanked on its left, its right and in some cases both. On the left, Syriza, Podemos, Mélenchon and others have rivalled the mainstream left for appeal and in some cases, the Dutch Green Left most spectacularly, have overtaken it. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">The difference in Britain was that in Britain this challenge, the alternative to neoliberalism, has come from <em>within</em> the party of social democracy - Corbynism as what Doran calls ‘the antidote to Pasokification’. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">John Harris is one of those writers who combines a healthy scepticism for what Corbyn might achieve with an acute sense of the depth of this crisis he inherited and – to some extent – of the Pasokification critique. Here’s Harris describing the context of Corbyn’s stunning win in the 2015 Labour Leadership election: </p> <p class="MsoNormal">“Centre-left politics all over Europe remains locked in deep crisis, sidelined by the dominance of the centre-right, and further unsettled by the rise of new populist and nationalist parties from both ends of the political spectrum. In the delirium of Corbynmania and the arrival of tens of thousands of new members, the cold reality of Labour’s predicament has been somewhat forgotten. At the last election (2015), it won its second-lowest share of the vote since 1983.” </p> <p class="MsoNormal">This was the wreckage from which Jeremy was expected to climb with party in tow. Nobody, not even most of his closest supporters, believed he could achieve that if the Tories set the trap of an early General Election. What in those circumstances could possibly go right? <span>&nbsp;</span>A lot as it turned out, but not enough.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Post-election John Harris wrote another measured piece this time outlining the complexity of the position now Labour found itself in:</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“In Scotland the party put on fewer than 10,000 votes. Despite the ‘dementia tax’ the Conservative lead among people over 70 was estimated to be 50 percentage points. And the syndrome whereby former Labour voters went first to UKIP and then the Tories was real and widespread – as evidenced by a handful of Labour losses in the Midlands, and other places where the Tory vote went up thanks to voters supposedly at the sharp end of austerity.” </p> <p class="MsoNormal">The fact that in the iconic former mining constituency of Bolsover Dennis Skinner suffered a 7.7% swing to the Tories is as good a benchmark of the latter, and vital, point we are likely to get.<span>&nbsp; </span>For some critics these flaws in the 2017 success story reveal a more worrying proposition, that the advances made are there to be reversed because of Labour’s enduring ambivalence on Brexit. Academic Matt Bolton spells out the likely consequences in particularly stark terms:</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“<span>Corbyn’s success postpones once again the moment of reckoning at which the left finally recognises that the acceptance of Brexit and the end of free movement constitutes a fundamental, generational defeat, one for which gains in the House of Commons, however welcome, are scant recompense.” </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">There are plenty, including those who enthusiastically back Jeremy, who share at least in part Matt’s reservations. However the contradictions of Brexit are yet to tear Labour apart. Some have warned of an ‘existential crisis’ as Labour sought to appeal to Labour leavers while keeping Labour remainers on board too. Labour in 2017 has mostly avoided that by shifting attention instead to the break with neoliberalism and an anti-austerity agenda. Labour’s response to the human tragedy of the Grenfell tower block fire further entrenched the popular reach of both Jeremy’s personal touch and the party’s values-led politics. Materialism and profit margins, as Grenfell so tragically illustrated, have their limits. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Any existential crisis, for the moment at least, is on the Tory side. The coalition from hell with the DUP can only further alienate whatever remains of Cameron’s liberal Conservative support. And at any sign of hard Brexit being softened, hardline eurosceptic Tory support will also lose faith and the resurrection of UKIP - or something like it - to split the right’s vote could become a serious proposition. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Perhaps the current situation of complexity and volatility is best summed up by the idea of a ‘Permanent Election.’<span>&nbsp; </span>A neat turn of phrase on Trotsky’s thesis of a Permanent Revolution. <span>&nbsp;</span>To the doorsteps!</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>&nbsp;</span><strong><span>The Corbyn Effect</span></strong><em><span>&nbsp;<span>is edited by Mark Perryman with a foreword by Paul Mason, and&nbsp;published by Lawrence &amp; Wishart.&nbsp;&nbsp;An essential post-election read,&nbsp;</span>The Corbyn Effect&nbsp;<span>makes sense of Jeremy Corbyn and the fundamental shift in our system of ideas 2017 has made possible. </span><a href="">Available now from L&amp;W&nbsp;here</a>.</span></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/jeremy-gilbert/psychedelic-socialism">Psychedelic socialism</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/jamie-mackay/corbyn-surge-was-no-fantasy-but-what-does-it-mean-for-uk">The Corbyn surge was no fantasy. But what does it mean for the UK?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/anthony-barnett/age-of-corbyn-i-most-powerful-person-in-land">The Age of Corbyn I: He is now the most powerful person in the land</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Fri, 22 Sep 2017 07:45:23 +0000 Mark Perryman 113561 at How to make English football good again - the view from below <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Mark Perryman</strong> of Philosophy Football explores the possibilities of fan culture as a social movement.<span style="mso-spacerun: yes;">&nbsp; </span></p> </div> </div> </div> <p> </p><p> Normal 0 false false false EN-GB JA X-NONE </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// From Below for tweet.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// From Below for tweet.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="537" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>During the international break a mini-spat over the England players’ supposed lack of pride in wearing the three lions shirt and playing for their country, provided a helpful starting point towards the remaking of football as a social movement. </p><p class="MsoNormal">England’s inability to go even 1-0 up against the proverbial minnows of the Maltese football team until well into the second half was blamed on the lack of emotional commitment from Harry Kane et al to end the half-century’s worth of years of hurt. But it was more to do with their actual inability to play. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">‘Pride’ is the easy cop-out. What we’re witnessing is the ever-decreasing quality of English football. How many of England’s starting eleven would Paris Saint German be chasing after with their chequebooks, or Barcelona and Borussia Dortmund? </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Of course the best eleven England can put on a pitch isn’t all bad but mostly their talent is boosted at club level by playing alongside foreign, more technically gifted and able players. On their own they’re not half as good. <span>&nbsp;</span>And for the players who turn out for United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool and Spurs a World Cup Qualifier, or even the tournament itself (short of reaching the long-forgotten semi-final stage) doesn’t come close to being the biggest match of their careers compared to the possibly more realistic chance of Champions League glory. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">It gets worse. The enormous wealth the Premier League provides to their clubs means even for those players far from the Champions League, the season-long battle to maintain their Premier League status (or indeed, gain promotion to it) pushes England games far down their list of priorities. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Lack of passion? No, the result of commercial calculation.<span>&nbsp; </span>This is at the core of the sickness of what football has become, the hopeless confusion of mistaking the richest league in the world with the best. It’s no accident that the Championship play-off final is described almost exclusively in terms of the riches awarded to the victor rather than the quality of the football played. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">For a while those disillusioned with the Premier League and all that adopted the mantra ‘Against Mod£rn Football.’ We first turned this into a T-shirt having spotted a Croatian Fans’ banner at Euro 2008 ‘Against Mod€rn Football.’ The sentiment was internationalist enough to make perfect sense. But being ‘against’ is the classic oppositionalist default position. A catchy phrase that fits neatly on to chest sizes small-XXL but ‘Against Mod£rn Football’ is increasingly problematic in three ways.<span>&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Firstly, there’s more than one version of modernity. Is the ‘against’ aimed at the growth of women’s football, refugee leagues, a game without borders, the irresistible plurality of where fans come from, race, gender, sexuality and nationality divisions broken down? Being against all that ends with oppositionalism masking conservatism, or worse. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Secondly the business of football has become inseparable from multinational corporate power. The macro-politics to reform the game traditionally adopted by both Labour and groups such as the Football Supporters Federation means any agency to enforce these policies seems almost impossible to imagine. Somehow I think an incoming Labour Government is going to have more immediate issues on its mind than nationalising the Premier League. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">Thirdly, therefore, there is a necessity to reimagine fan culture not as hard-pressed consumers but as a social movement with the capacity to make change.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Currently this is very much a minority movement, but all such movements start out with big ambitions and modest advances. Their potential to grow and effect change is dependent on the ability to inspire through small victories which help convince wider forces this is a direction of travel worth pursuing. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">We can see this movement in the rise of militantly anti-racist ultra groups, at Clapton, Whitehawk and elsewhere. In the growth of start-up football clubs, Hackney Wick FC, City of Liverpool FC and the women’s football club AFC Unity in Sheffield. In the spread of community ownership up and down the divisions. In the pro-refugees message heard from at least some stands, not on the scale of what was seen across the <em>Bundesliga</em> but present nevertheless. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">At the core of any such movement is gender. If football is to become modern for all then the sport’s entrenched masculinity must be challenged. Treating women’s football as different yet equal is a key step towards a truly inclusive game. On this basis the Equality FC initiative at Lewes FC where men’s and women’s playing budgets are the same, is a model for all clubs to aspire to if the pressure ‘from below’ can be built.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">This isn’t fantasy football. It is about the remaking of the political, the recognition that it is in popular culture that ideas are formed, the limitations on what is possible challenged and transformations take shape. Brighton, now a Premier League club, playing in their own city, an ambition only made possible because of a 15-year campaign by their own fans is a vital illustration of this possibility, a club culture absolutely framed by that fan-led campaign. <span>&nbsp;</span>And it is fitting therefore that it is in Brighton at <a href="">The World Transformed Festival</a> alongside Labour Party Conference that many of those involved in these practical initiatives will be gathered together by Philosophy Football <a href="">to launch a discussion</a> on what a ‘Football from Below’ might look like.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Any such discussion if it is to have a meaningful purpose demands allies. Labour and the trade unions need to look beyond narrowness of their own agendas and the scarcity of their own alliances. Football is a signifier of so many other spaces in popular culture where Labour and the trade unions need to be present, connecting ideas to lived experience towards change.<span>&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">New Labour adopted football in the same way it adopted Britpop as a cultural accessory, providing photo opportunities and celebrity endorsements. It was always a flimsy appropriation born out of a flimsy politics. <span>&nbsp;</span>Corbynism promises something different, and the framing of a popular, cultural politics will be vital to any fulfilment of that proud boast. <span>&nbsp;</span>Football just one of what should become countless journeys of putting the ideas of Corbynism into practical extra-parliamentary achievement.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">‘Football from Below’ wears the colours of FC St Pauli as our inspiration. But it is time to make that change in our own image too.<span>&nbsp; </span>From the bottom-up, but not in <em>opposition</em> to those who choose to follow the Premier League moneybagged bandwagon. That would be not only futile but also self-destructive. Instead as a minority we will be pioneering the practical possibility of building a game that doesn’t have to be run in the way it is. Rethinking football as a sport for all, not a business to be run for profit. Idealistic? Sure. But here we go…</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><em>Philosophy Football’s</em> Football from Below <em>T-shirt is available from</em> <a href="">here</a></p> <p>&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Fri, 08 Sep 2017 11:18:04 +0000 Mark Perryman 113261 at Were you still up for...? a late summer reading list <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The shock of the general election hasn’t even begun to settle down. <strong>Mark Perryman </strong>recommends some reads to help grapple with interesting times. </p> </div> </div> </div> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>The audacity of hope versus the mendacity of the weak ‘n’ wobbly. 20 years ago it took until the early hours before that ‘were you still up for Portillo?’ moment established the sheer scale of the Tories’ meltdown. Two decades on this was different. Firstly, the indicator, the exit poll, came a whole lot earlier, leaving viewers with hour after hour of ‘surprise’ results to look forward to. </p> <p>Secondly, Labour’s triumph, despite missing the overall majority, was both so unexpected and based on such a radical appeal.&nbsp; </p> <p>In politics nothing of course stands still. Yesterday’s radicalism becomes tomorrow’s consensus while new issues arise to challenge us to change pre-ordained positions. Rutger Bregman’s <a href="">Utopia for Realists </a>&nbsp;and <a href="">Doughnut Economics</a> by Kate Raworth were both published prior to 8th June, now they are each required summer reading for Labour politicians and activists who might mistakenly believe that ‘one more heave’ will be sufficient to dislodge the Tories and effect progressive change. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="436" height="640" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>Naomi Klein’s latest <a href="">No Is Not Enough</a> sets the necessity for an evolving, always more radical, project in the context of how being against is never, ever, sufficient, we need to be for too. This is one of the current generation’s brightest thinkers writing at her very best. <a href="">Rules for Revolutionaries</a> has a similar North American bias to Klein’s book but is no less necessary to read as a result. Co-authors Becky Bond and Zack Exley draw lessons, what they call ‘big organising’, from their hands-on experience in the Bernie Sanders campaign that no serious Labour activist can afford to ignore if next time a decent second in the key 66 marginals is to be turned into a runaway first place.&nbsp; </p> <p><a href="">The Thatcherite Offensive</a> by Alexander Gallas is an important new contribution from an old perspective, the work of Nicos Poulantzas, towards an analysis of an era most of us would prefer to forget, Thatcherism. Taking an admirably internationalist look at the potential to challenge neoliberalism the edited collection <a href="">The Left, the people, populism</a> ranges over a wide array of subjects and European countries, a vital antidote to the parochialism of the English Left. &nbsp;&nbsp;Of course such inwardness does get punctured from time to time, recently the #blacklivesmatter movement in the USA has been one such source of inspiration. Wesley Lowery’s <a href="">They Can’t Kill Us All</a> is the riveting tale of how this movement exploded on the US political terrain and helped begin to shift the boundaries worldwide of debates on race, class and policing to good effect.&nbsp; </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_left 0'><a href="// phillips.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// phillips.jpg" alt="" title="" width="215" height="346" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Jess Phillips is best known perhaps for her explosive interventions to burst the Westminster Bubble. Too easily pigeon-holed simply as an arch anti-Corbynite her book <a href="">Everywoman</a> reveals instead a grassroots activist-feminist turned MP who more than anything else wants to upset the status quo, whoever or whatever is defending it. Jamie Bartlett would certainly recognise the necessity of such an opening-up, in <a href="">Radicals</a> he provides a hugely original account of how it is outsiders, often sitting uneasily on the traditional left to right spectrum who across the globe are forcing changes on the mainstream. Leon Rosselson’s short memoir <a href=";p=854">That Precious Strand of Jewishness That Challenges Authority</a> provides a sense of one such source of this radicalism, an important rejoinder to the current febrile debate over what is, and is not, anti-semitic. But of course outsiders, radicals, can originate from all variety of sources, the English Defence League for a period posed a real challenge to what it was assumed were settled notions of a multicultural and diverse society, fomenting an unapologetic racism, Islamophobia and anti-immigration into a street-fighting weekend army. <a href="">Loud and Proud</a> by Hilary Pilkington, is a vital study of the EDL in preparation for any revival of a similar type of movement.&nbsp; &nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>In contrast what might frame the endurance of an enduring revival on our side? Most would argue that this will depend on the continuing popularisation of the anti-austerity message. Few books will do this better than Polly Toynbee and David Walker’s <a href="">Dismembered</a> a fact-filled polemical description of the scale and depth of our public services’ starvation of resources. Housing was a hugely important issue to many of the millennials who cast their vote in such numbers for Corbyn. <a href="">Rent Trap</a> by Rosie Walker and Samir Jeraj combines an analysis of the growth of the private rental market&nbsp; and alternatives which would put the needs of tenants first and the profit margins of greedy landlords second.&nbsp; </p> <p>There is nothing worse than failing to look back to the past for lessons for today, and tomorrow’s Left. Unfortunately however the process of going backwards to go forwards too often becomes a recipe of being trapped by yesteryear’s models. Don Watson’s <a href="">Squatting in Britain 1945-1955</a> is a text book avoidance of that trait, it deserves a wide reading too post-Grenfell. And another book useful for those reflecting on Grenfell is <a href="">Justice Denied</a> a powerful reminder that righting wrongs is never anything less than a battle, Orgreave and Hillsborough are more than enough testament to that. Gregor Gall’s <a href="">Bob Crow, Socialist, Leader, Fighter</a> is described as a ‘political biography’ which neatly sums up its appeal. The story of not just a forceful personality who fought his way to the top of his trade union but the values he sought to protect and promote via the campaigns he helped lead. A very different story is Jonathan Lerner’s autobiographical <a href="">Swords in the Hands of Children</a>. This is the era of ’68, all that hope, liberation and revolt and when all of that came to nothing, the self-destruction that came next. </p> <p><a href="">Twentieth Century Communism</a><em> </em>is an uncanny read for those interested in rediscovering the range, content and meaning of perhaps the most important radical tradition of the past century. The latest edition is a special issue dedicated to the literature of communism. Edited by Paul Flewers and John Mcllroy <a href="">1956 : John Saville, EP Thompson &amp; The New Reasoner</a> combines both the original ’56 debates with a hugely effective and informative commentary&nbsp; provided by the editors. But, of course, it is 1917 which is attracting the most attention in the Russian Revolution’s centenary year. <a href="">The Dilemmas of Lenin</a> by Tariq Ali is no hagiography yet the message of the enduring case for revolution shines through, whatever the changes in circumstances.&nbsp; For a short and very readable account of the movements that produced the Russian Revolution Dave Sherry’s <a href="">Russia 1917 : Workers’ Revolution and the Festival of the Oppressed</a>. Written with a style few other authors would even attempt to match <a href="">October</a> by China Miéville is novel, yet politically compelling, a book to appeal to those who remain drawn to the romance of the revolutionary ideal. For an insight into the culture the revolution helped produce and then propel on to a world stage <a href="">1917 : Stories and Poems from the Russian Revolution</a> edited by Boris Dralyuk is the perfect accompaniment. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//,204,203,200_.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//,204,203,200_.jpg" alt="" title="" width="318" height="499" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>Of course over the decades a culture of resistance has taken many forms, the latest #grime4corbyn too recent to have very much written about it yet. Trish Winter and Simon Keegan-Phipps trace folk’s peculiarly English traditions in their book <a href="">Performing Englishness</a>. Billy Bragg’s <a href="">Roots, Radicals and Rockers</a> is a magnificent account of skiffle which along the way Billy claims helped change the world. Two books that cover more recent collisions of music and politics are<a href=""> Fightback: Punk, Politics and Resistance</a> edited by The Subcultures Network and the Gavin Butt, Kodwo Eshun ,Mark Fisher edited collection <a href="">Post Punk Then and Now</a>. Dave Randall’s <a href="">Sound System : The Political Power of Music</a>. An unforgiving call to guitars, drums, keyboards, sax, by any instruments necessary to change the world.&nbsp; </p><p>Of course no summer would be complete without the joys of salads, picnics, barbecues with ice-cold chilled drinks on the side. Be overwhelmed with ideas to sparkle the appetite, and without a sniff of meat in sight from Sam Murphy’s superb <a href="">Beautifully Real Food</a>. </p><p>And the other treat no summer would be complete without is of course a decent Thriller. Chris Brookmyre’s latest <a href="">Want You Gone</a> certainly won’t disappoint with his customary mix of dramatic plot turns, rich humour and <em>tartan noir</em>. Nor should the grown-ups be allowed to have all the reading fun either. Michael Rosen’s latest creation, Uncle Gobb, reappears in <a href="">Uncle Gobb and the Green Heads</a>, hours of fun for young readers while adults can ponder if this Gobb character is really the living embodiment of the marketisation of our chidren’s education. </p><p>Making sense of 2017’s political surprises requires both an understanding of the present and the ability to connect this to a theoretical framework as a means of exploration and explanation too. The reissue of Perry Anderson’s <a href="">The Antinomies of Antonio Gramsci</a> with a new, and very substantial, preface is a superb sign post towards<span> </span>such an intellectual journey. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//,204,203,200_.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//,204,203,200_.jpg" alt="" title="" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Unarguably the most significant populariser of Gramsci, and one of the founders of the modern academic discipline of Cultural Studies, Stuart Hall, has been treated to a recent spate of well-deserved books of late. His partial autobiography <a href="">Familiar Stranger</a> has been published posthumously with the help of his long-time collaborator Bill Schwarz. David Scott’s <a href="">Stuart Hall’s Voice</a> consists of a wonderfully original format, a series of letters written to Hall after his death exploring the significance of his legacy to so many contemporary intellectuals who remain enthralled by his influence. Within the academy that influence remains most alive, and at its best still kicking too, in cultural studies, the publication of Hall’s lectures from 1983 which framed this influence, <a href="">Cultural Studies 1983 : A Theoretical History </a>&nbsp;edited&nbsp; by Jennifer Daryl Slack and Lawrence Grossberg therefore could not be more welcome. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="300" height="474" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>And it is Stuart Hall who post-election provides us with our book of the quarter too. Wherever we spend the summer relaxing and recovering, the collection <a href="">Stuart Hall Selected Political Writings : The Great Moving Right Show and other Political Essays</a> is both a timely an enjoyable read. On the page, and for those of us who were lucky enough to hear him, as a speaker too, Stuart Hall brought the analysis of politics alive in a way which is sorely missed in 2017. These essays provide a sharpness of intellect and warm embrace of analysis that are a positive joy to read, new and afresh or but read in a new times, good and bad, that even Stuart Hall could never have foretold. </p> <p><em>Mark Perryman is the co-founder of</em> <a href="">Philosophy Football</a>. <em>His own book, the edited</em> <em>collection</em> <a href="">The Corbyn Effect</a> <em>is out from Lawrence &amp; Wishart in mid September.</em> </p> <p><strong>Note</strong>&nbsp;No links in this review are to Amazon, if you can possibly avoid buying your books from corporate tax dodgers please do so.</p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Fri, 25 Aug 2017 10:51:52 +0000 Mark Perryman 113023 at Nothing to lose but our chains: cycling is the people’s sport <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p dir="ltr">As the annual cycling spectacle of the Tour De France begins, are two wheels good?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="297" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Tour de France. Tejvan Pettinger/Flickr. Some rights reserved.</span></span></span>Who would have guessed it? Karl Marx was clearly a bike mechanic when he wasn’t plotting the downfall of capitalism. ‘Nothing to lose but your chains’ is &nbsp;handy advice when the derailleur slips and furious pedalling propels bike and rider precisely nowhere. Ok – Marx was more interested in liberating the workers of the world than the freedom of the road... though, with committed cyclist-commuter Jeremy Corbyn, it’s quite possible there will soon be need of a Downing Street bike rack – so perhaps now is a good time to make the case for cycling as the people’s sport.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">For those who take an interest in cycling’s competitive side, Le Tour will be on the TV for the next three weeks as it weaves its way from the Grand Départ in Germany, through Belgium, a quick detour to Luxembourg &nbsp;and across France to the traditional finish on the Champs Élysées. That’s two boxes ticked straightaway in my case for a people’s sport.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Firstly, despite Sky’s sponsorship of the premier British team competing, the race is broadcast on terrestrial TV, played live and with highlights packages, and airs for free on ITV4. Secondly, it is a genuinely internationalist event.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The Tour is of course fundamentally French, but it is shared with other European countries too, in terms of where it starts, and its stages (but never the ending – that will always be Paris). Not quite the proletarian internationalism of our Marxist dreams – but not a bad model for a sporting culture beyond borders, then. And of course it is lined along the route by fans in their hundreds of thousands, none paying even a cent, or nowadays a Euro, for the privilege. Nor is there any significant infrastructure in which to waste huge amounts of money, leaving stadia never to be filled again. About the Tour’s only spend is on improving the road’s surface, for the benefit of all. For benefit, indeed, of the many: pedestrians, cyclists and car-drivers alike.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Like previous Tours this one will be mired in an unfolding drugs controversy, made all the more awkward this year for British cycling fans by the fact that the spotlight will be mainly on Team Sky, rider and race favourite Chris Froome and Team Sky Principal Dave Brailsford. With the unresolved drug allegations against Bradley Wiggins, and the prolonged furore over sexism and bullying in the Olympic track cycling squad, this threatens to dim the golden glow of Britain’s single most successful sport over the past decade. &nbsp;Cycling has taken a knock, there’s no doubt about that. But the roots of its appeal are now so deep that all signs tell of its not only surviving but continuing to flourish.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Marx, notwithstanding my spurious claims about his valiant contribution to the art of bicycle maintenance (similar claims have famously been made for Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance) is at least partially responsible for the answer. Cycling, like all sports, is socially constructed. It is a leisure activity we can take part but scarcely notice. What other sport can double up as a means of getting to work, to do the shopping, to pop down the pub? A bike can provide the basis for a family day out too. Perhaps best of all, it’s a habit we can pick up as children and – once we’ve learned not to fall over – it’s a skill we never lose. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p class="mag-quote-center" dir="ltr">What other sport can double up as a means of getting to work, to do the shopping, to pop down the pub?<span>&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr">Of course at the upper end of cycling culture, particularly among men suffering from a midlife cycling crisis, bikes cost a proverbial arm and a leg. Many observers suggest this in part explains the decline in golf: middle aged men who should know better invest in handbuilt carbon frames and all the gear, instead of the ever-escalating green fees to tee off at the most expensive 18 holes. The recession may hurt even the most well-paid, but the class enemy on two wheels represents only a portion of cycling’s growing popularity. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Likewise, elite success, Wiggins and Froome winning Le Tour, and bucketloads of Olympic Cycling Gold medals have certainly contributed something to cycling’s appeal. It was a bit like Coe, Ovett, Cram and Elliott’s success on the track coinciding with the late 1970s to early 1980s running boom – a factor, but not the total explanation the media-boosters would like to claim for their coverage.&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Cycling is green and leads to increasing investment in safer cycling routes. When cycling you can make use of sunnier summers, austerity staycation culture – these are all important factors, and add up to a whole lot more. &nbsp;Hence cycling’s growing and enduring popularity, which would only grow under a genuinely cyclist socialist PM. There’s a durability to this appeal unlikely to be destroyed by news of dodgy medicinals or bullying coaches.</p><p dir="ltr">Sport’s core attraction is always assumed to be competition. This is wrong. For most, this only applies to the spectators – those who watch but don’t do. Being on the losing side bringing up the rear does more to deter the young from sport than virtually anything else. And once deterred, regardless of compulsory sport lessons, little else proves effective in reconnecting with the inactive. This is where cycling is key: just do it. Half the time we don’t even realise we’re doing it, for the way it blends identities, one moment a means of transport, the next a leisure activity. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The Tour is about the most communistic sports event I’ve ever taken part in, the increasingly popular cycling sportive. No, the organisers aren’t planning revolution via long rides through the countryside – but to my mind the format unwittingly subverts competitive instincts via equalising participation. Staggered starts over varying distances mean that nobody knows who the winners are – nor, crucially, the losers. Some are racing against their own individual clock, but for all it is a collective race against the shared distance and terrain, more often than not raising money for a good cause along the way, winning the same prize wherever you finish. Bikes are great. Not that I’ve ever seen Marx on one, mind... must be back in his bike shed working on unfettering those chains.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// Cycling quote for tweet.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// Cycling quote for tweet.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="363" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Credit: Hugh Tisdale.</span></span></span><em>The ‘Nothing to Lose but Your Chains’ cycling t-shirt is now available from <a href="">Philosophy Football</a>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/chrs-cox/cycling-for-gaza">Cycling for Gaza </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/openeconomy/julian-sayarer/cycling-through-reading-or-kazakhstan-otherness-is-not-what-it-seems">Cycling through Reading or Kazakhstan: otherness is not what it seems</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Sat, 01 Jul 2017 05:29:20 +0000 Mark Perryman 112020 at A riot of our own: Punk at 40 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>&nbsp;8<sup>th</sup> April is the 40<sup>th</sup> Anniversary of The Clash Debut Album <strong style="mso-bidi-font-weight: normal;">Mark Perryman</strong> asks what the 1977 punk and politics mix was all about?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p> </p><p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// 1977 for article.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// 1977 for article.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="383" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">The birth of punk for most is dated in or around, 1976 with the November release that year of the Sex Pistols’ <em>Anarchy in the UK</em> with both music and movement kickstarted into the ‘filth and fury’ headlines via the band’s expletive-strewn Bill Grundy TV interview. </p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">More Situationist than Anarchist, Rotten and the rest were of course key to the detonation of a youthful mood of revolt alongside the not entirely dissimilar <em>The Damned</em>, Manchester’s <em>Buzzcocks</em> and the more trad rock <em>Stranglers</em>. Giving the boys’ bands a run for their money <em>The Slits</em> pushed perhaps hardest at punk’s musical boundaries, their <em>Typical Girls </em>track quite unlike what the others were recording.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">But it was <em>The Clash</em> that more than anyone who symbolised the punk and politics mix, showcased on their debut album <em>The Clash</em>, released 40 years ago 8th April ’77.<span>&nbsp; </span>From being bored with the USA and angrily demanding a riot of their own via hate and war to non-existent career opportunities, fourteen tracks, played at furious speed to produce two-minute classics. The one exception their inspired cover version of <em>Junior Murvin</em> and Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry’s <em>Police and Thieves,</em> played slow, the lyrics almost spoken rather than sung backed by a pitch perfect reggae beat.<span>&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">The album cover shows the youthful threesome of Strummer, Jones and Simonon in their artfully stenciled shirts and jackets that was to become their signature stagewear uniform completed by the obligatory skinny jeans, white socks, black DM’s. The print quality is purposely poor to add a degree of authenticity that this band more than most hardly needed. But it was the back cover that is the more telling.<span>&nbsp; </span>A scene from the 1976 Notting Hill Carnival Riots with the Met’s boys in blue, these were the days before RoboCop style body armour, riot shields,<span>&nbsp; </span>helmets with visors, in hot pursuit of black youth retreating and regrouping under the Westway flyover. </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// Loud for article.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// Loud for article.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="335" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">It was that experience in ’76 that inspired The Clash’s anthemic <em>White Riot</em> and the lines ‘WHITE RIOT! I WANNA RIOT. WHITE RIOT! A RIOT OF MY OWN.’<span>&nbsp; </span>At the time the National Front’s streetfighting racist army was laying waste wherever they marched, their leaders John Tyndall and Martin Webster pretty much household names, and the NF was getting indecent enough votes to suggest an electoral breakthrough might be a possibility. The potential for ‘White Riot’ to be misinterpreted then, and now too, is obvious. But the band’s intent couldn’t be clearer. Living, and recording in around the Westway they embraced the changes this West London community had undergone since the 1950s, Caribbean music, food and fashions as much a part of who <em>The Clash</em> were as rock and roll, Sunday roast and safety pins. It was a spirit of Black defiance they sought to share not oppose.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">“All the power is in the hands</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Of people rich enough to buy it,</p> <p class="MsoNormal">While we walk the streets</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Too chicken to even try it.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">And everybody does what they’re told to</p> <p class="MsoNormal">And everybody eats supermarket soul food!” </p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">A year after the album’s release and <em>The Clash</em> headline the first Rock against Racism carnival in London’s Victoria Park. The dayglo politics of this musical culture of resistance<span>&nbsp; </span>fitted perfectly with the agitprop look and lyrics of the band. Not just them either. From Polly Styrene of X-Ray Spex’s <em>Oh Bondage Up Yours! </em>punk feminism via Tom Robinson’s liberatory <em>Sing If You’re Glad to be Gay </em>and Birmingham’s <em>Steel Pulse</em> with tales of a <em>Handsworth Revolution</em>. This wasn’t just a line up that commercial promoters in ’78 would die for it was a platform to challenge prejudice both without and within that we could dance to, or jump about to more like. </p><p class="MsoNormal"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// with the USA final.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// with the USA final.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="265" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">In her book <em>1988 The New Wave Punk Rock Explosion</em>, confusing actually published in 1977 Caroline Coon predicted of <em>The Clash</em> ‘their acute awareness, and ability to articulate the essence of the era which inspires their music, will make their contribution to the history of rock of lasting significance. Happy times are here again.”<span>&nbsp; </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Of course like all successful musicians <em>The Clash </em>became in their turn stars, then celebrities. The venues became bigger and bigger though through force of circumstance the band bailed out before they reached U2’s overblown proportions or outstayed their musical welcome to play into their dotage Rolling Stones style. 1977 is a moment to look back to and remember but not to fossilise, that would be the antithesis of everything they represented or as the final track from the album put it:</p> <p class="MsoNormal">&nbsp;</p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>"I don't want to hear about what the rich are doing, I don't want to go to where, where the rich are going."</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><em><span>Garageland</span></em><span>. That’s where they came from and never entirely left either. Its why more than anything else ‘77 Clash in 2017 matter still. </span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><em><span>’77 Clash T-shirt range available now from </span></em><a href=""><span>Philosophy Football</span></a><span>&nbsp;</span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/mark-perryman/we-were-their-flowers-in-dustbin-anarchy-in-uk-at-40">We were their flowers in the dustbin: Anarchy in the UK at 40</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Fri, 31 Mar 2017 20:05:04 +0000 Mark Perryman 109826 at All Power to the Ideals! <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What kind of centenary celebration does 1917 deserve?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// for tweet.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// for tweet.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="441" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><strong>&nbsp;</strong>A century ago, 23rd February 1917, Russian women marched out in protest from the St Petersburg factories where they worked, defying Cossacks armed with swords, and took control of the city’s streets. In less than a week they had been joined by hundreds of thousands of other workers. The St Petersburg Military Garrison mutinied in their support. A rebellion led by women for people’s power had begun.</p> <p>The 1917 centenary will be one of the publishing events of the year with writers from Left and Right battling in words over the legacy. The Royal Academy, the Design Museum, British Library and Tate Modern will all host major exhibitions of Revolutionary-era art. In October Philosophy Football, in association with the RMT, will present a night out at London’s Rich Mix Arts Centre ‘To Shake the World’ celebrating the culture of the Revolution. While during the day Michael Rosen and friends will host an event for families featuring the children’s books of the revolution. And there will even be a guided history walk to visit the hidden history of connections between London’s East End and 1917.</p> <p>Not all agree that 1917 deserves any kind of celebration at all. Art critic Jonathan Jones <a href="">writing in the <em>Guardian</em></a> rages against the spectacle of the Royal Academy ‘Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932’ exhibition because “The way we glibly admire Russian art from the age of Lenin sentimentalises one of the most murderous chapters in human history.” Unless the Royal Academy (the clue might be in the title Jonathan) has reinvented itself as a bastion of Marxism-Leninism it is most unlikely they will be sentimentalising communism nor, given their reputation, is glibness likely to characterise how they showcase the art via context.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// Soviet for tweet.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// Soviet for tweet.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>It is undeniable the Russian Revolution cost lives, millions of lives. It took place in the era of World War One when millions of lives were being lost on the fields of France too. And this was the age of Empire with millions more lives sacrificed in the cause of imperial plunder and subjugation across the world. All three events, 1917, WWI, and Empire were bloody. None should be sentimentalised. Each needs to be understood. Anything else is the denial of history. </p> <p>In ’89 the fall of the Berlin Wall was famously claimed to mark ‘the end of history’. Yet a generation later the cause of radical change in an era of #dumptrump and #chaoticbrexit remains. The strength of the connections between these 2017 social movements and 1917 are there to be argued over, the history contested but to dismiss the revolution of a century ago as either wholly irrelevant or entirely the model for change now would be both arrogant and unwise. </p> <p>The crucial point of the October Revolution was reached some seven months after those women workers first marched when the Russian Royal Family’s Winter Palace was successfully stormed. The signal for the assault to begin was he firing of a blank from the bow gun of the Russian warship, Aurora. The ship’s crew, inspired by the protesting women had mutinied back in February to side with the Bolsheviks. </p><p>And what followed 1917 was a movement, in Russia but beyond too, that unleashed the most unprecedented wave of creative imagination. Today the art of the period has become chic, fit to hang on the most respected gallery walls, treated as historic artefact not a tool of revolutionary change. Of course nobody would decry the simplistic beauty of Lissitzky’s Red Wedge but to divorce the aesthetic of this, and hundreds, thousands of other pieces from a period when art, poetry, music, film, theatre and more went into production with a revolutionary impulse would be a travesty. Perhaps the most famous cultural movement out of 1917 was contructivism. But these weren’t shapes artfully assembled without purpose. This was construction with designs on everlasting change, revolution. Too often this is represented by both the establishment, and reproduced too by those who fail to learn the lessons of 1917’s failings, as a top down didactic. Rather at its best, politically and artistically the Russian revolution was a movement from below inspired by the human capacity to shake the world in which we live. <span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// for tweet_0.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// for tweet_0.jpeg" alt="Lissitzky's red wedge" title="" width="320" height="316" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>This is the point those who decry the 1917 celebrations miss and some who join with the commemorations miss it too. This wasn’t a revolution made by Lenin, Trotsky, or Stalin. Though all three played their part of course in what it was, and what it became. But most of all this was a revolution made by ordinary people, women factory workers began it, rank and file sailors fired the starting signal. And with their actions and achievements they inspired a vision for a better world. This is what we should celebrate of 1917, the potential that we the people have, together, to effect change.&nbsp; </p><p><strong>Philosophy Football’s</strong> <em>1917 Centenary range of T-shirts is available</em> <a href="">here</a>&nbsp; </p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Fri, 10 Feb 2017 18:52:09 +0000 Mark Perryman 108723 at A guide to Christmas books for the radical in your life <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p dir="ltr">Mark Perryman provides a seasonal round-up of the best books to cheer up the radical spirit</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr">From #chaoticbrexit to the triumph of Trump via the summertime Labour coup, 2016 will be a year to forget for many &nbsp;who cling on to an optimism that a better tomorrow remains not only necessary but possible too. The toxicity of racism , the brutal closure of the Calais refugee camp, the political murder of Jo Cox, the human disaster unfolding in Syria and ever-increasing landmass temperatures signalling the onward march of Climate Change are more than enough to have us all digging into our pockets for the humbugs while giving the holly and the ivy this year a miss. But there’s another side to all of that, for every setback there’s a fightback and in and amongst the mix more than enough to keep at least a semblance of belief in a radically different future. There’s always next year after all. </p><p dir="ltr">In Britain, across Europe, and in the USA, progressives are now up against a Populist Right, which requires a Populist &nbsp;Left in response. <a href="">The Populist Explosion</a> by John &nbsp;B. Judis is a richly analytical account of the similarities and differences of what this year emerged as a global phenomenon of racist reaction while <a href="">Europe in Revolt</a> edited by Catarina Príncipe and Bhaskar Sunkara reveal the resources of hope an insurgent European left provides. For the prospects of &nbsp;‘what might have been’ read <a href="">Our Revolution</a> by Bernie Sanders and imagine what a President Trump-free 2017 might have looked like. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// in Revolt.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// in Revolt.png" alt="" title="" width="413" height="640" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">Such an alternative right now however remains at a very low ebb. Books that begin to map out the beginnings of a journey back are needed more than ever. Fortunately 2016 began to provide a good variety of such handy volumes. Now out in paperback, Paul Mason’s <a href="">Postcapitalism</a> remains for many the best of the bunch and for those who don’t have it already a must-have for any Christmas radical reads shopping list. A personal favourite for the combination of design, format and writing is <a href="">ABCs of Socialism</a> edited by Bhaskar Sunkara. A book to bring the optimist back to earth is <a href="">The Corruption of Capitalism</a> by Guy Standing, pioneer of the ‘precariat’ analysis, who continues his well-studied research to reveal the transformation &nbsp;of work being effected via the rentier economy. An updated edition of the trailblazing <a href="">Inventing the Future</a> from Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams provides a manifesto of change to counter the miserable terms and conditions Standing’s ‘precariart’ are forced to endure. But of course these conditions aren’t created simply by the world of work, edited by Jeremy Gilbert <a href="">Neoliberal Culture</a> provides a much-needed breadth of critique that takes our understanding of the neoliberalism beyond any tendency to cling on to a workerist model &nbsp;of explanation. Taking a similarly broad scope is author Mark Greif, the title of his new book rather gives this away, <a href="">Against Everything</a>, the perfect seasonal gift for oppositionalists everywhere, not that they will appreciate the gesture, being against such fripperies after all. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">After that little lot the season of not enough goodwill and too little peace may require a bit of cheer-me-up. <a href="">The Candidate</a> by Alex Nunns should do precisely that for the convinced Corbynite with an account in riveting detail of Jeremy Corbyn’s rise to power which reads more like a thriller than a chronicle, and that’s a compliment by the way! And for the year ahead those plotting the downfall of Corbyn’s opposition from the Labour Right have the perfect Christmas present in the way of David Osland’s rewrite of the activist classic <a href=";WD=osland&amp;PN=Socialist_Renewal%2ehtml%23a893#a893">How to Select or Reselect Your MP</a>. The annual Socialist Register 2017 edition is entitled <a href="">Rethinking Revolution</a> with a range of fresh thinking on a great theme ranging from Corbynism , the European Left and South Africa’s ANC to radical change in Bolivia plus a range of essays questioning the legacy of 1917’s revolutionary model. &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">Of course in 2017 there’ll be no escaping the centenary of the Russian Revolution. Get ready to make it a revolutionary New Year with the classic dissident account, Victor Serge’s <a href="">Year One of the Russian Revolution</a> or for a wholly original approach treat yourself to the brilliant comic-strip style approach of <a href="">1917: Russia’s Red Year</a> by Tim Sanders and John Newsinger. Quite the quirkiest account of 1917 I’ve read though, and all the better for it, is Catherine Merridale’s incredibly original <a href="">Lenin on the Train</a> which describes Lenin’s journey to the revolution as a kind of communist version of great rail journeys, superb. The latest edition of my favourite journal <a href="">Twentieth Century Communism </a>has a particular interest in communist nostalgia ranging over instances of this perhaps not very quaint phenomenon in Romania, Italy Greece and elsewhere. Without decrying the historical significance of the Russian Revolution there are plenty of other starting points for the revolutionary impulse. <a href="">The Leveller Revolution</a> from John Rees expertly and passionately describes the tumultuous times of the 1640s English Civil War as one such starting point. Not exactly a year of revolution but one of change nevertheless David Stubbs in <a href="">1996 &amp; The End Of History</a> chooses the year of Blur, Oasis, Three Lions and the eve of Blair as PM to entertainingly conclude that those particular twelve months were a kind of start for what became postmodern Britain.</p><p dir="ltr">To understand the evolution of an historical tradition of thought and action there’s no better collection than the recently re-issued <a href="">Antonio Gramsci Reader</a>. This peerless thinker and revolutionary ’s writings 1916-1935 remain the single most important application of 1917 to the world after WWI coinciding with the rise of interwar fascism, moreover they have stood the test of time better than most. A new collection of Eric Hobsbawm’s writings on Latin America <a href="">Viva La Revolucion</a> is a wonderful way to explore how interpreting the world can enable us to change the world, to kind of misquote Marx. Today such a philosophy, what was once called praxis, finds many different expressions in varied locations and situations. One example is activist-photography on the frontline between the state of Israel and Palestinian resistance &nbsp;which is the subject of <a href="">Activestills</a> edited by Vered Maimon and Shiraz Grinbaum. &nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// la revolucion_0.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// la revolucion_0.jpeg" alt="" title="" width="408" height="640" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">In 2016, as 2015 and 2014 were too the pivot of radical change on this island remains Scotland. Voted against #ToryBrexit, for a social-democratic and green majority in favour of Scottish independence, led by the most impressive by far of all domestic party leaders. It is no surprise then that writing on Scotland and its politics produces some of the most thoughtful insights either north of, or all points south, of the border. Neil Davidson’s latest collection of richly intellectual essays <a href="">Nation-States</a> reinforces his reputation as the most creative author currently writing out of the Marxist tradition on the theories and intersections of a nationalist politics. Davidson’s writing combines critical analysis with a grand global overview. <a href="">Scotland the Bold</a> by Gerry Hassan is focussed more specifically on Scotland yet this liberates rather than restricts Gerry’s radical imaginary which he brilliantly applies to the present and future of this most turbulent of nations. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr">The dark side of versions of nationalism rooted not in liberation but blood and soil are covered in two powerfully critical memoirs. Gaby Weiner’s <a href=";pg=PP1&amp;lpg=PP1&amp;dq=Gaby+WEiner+%2B+Tales+of+LOving+and+Leaving&amp;source=bl&amp;ots=zn-I6wXks6&amp;sig=v00he8tuGTthu1LBG_Q-Ohr-MXQ&amp;hl=en&amp;sa=X&amp;ved=0ahUKEwjt9I7I783QAhULAcAKHTlUD4kQ6AEISTAL#v=onepage&amp;q=Gaby%20WEiner%20%2B%20Tales%20of%20LOving%20and%20Leaving&amp;f=false">Tales of Loving and Leaving </a>deserves to become a modern classic. This is a book that expertly yet effortlessly weaves family and generation into two of the most epic events of the Twentieth Century, the Russian Revolution and Hitler coming to power while linking both to a consequence that we continue to live with in the 21st, mass migration. &nbsp;<a href="">Fascist in the Family </a>is the kind of title to get the reader to sit up and take notice before they’ve even started thumbing through the pages. Left-wing writer Francis Beckett retells the story of his father, elected as Labour’s youngest MP at the 1924 General Election he became one of Oswald Mosley’s key allies in the British Union of Fascists until he found even this lot not Nazi enough and helped found the National Socialist League. Told with a brutal honesty, a book of horrific tragedy. </p><p dir="ltr">To add some fiction over the holiday break Andrew Smith’s <a href="">The Speech</a>. Taking as its starting point the real-life Enoch Powell &nbsp;‘Rivers of Blood’ tirade Smith engages with themes of culture and community to reveal a &nbsp;fictional plot rooted in reality and hope. Originally published in the wake of Italy’s ‘Hot Autumn’ of 1969 the novel <a href="">We Want Everything</a> by Nanni Balestrini is both framed by this period of revolutionary youth culture but not trapped by it. As such, this is a novel of enduring inspiration as well as a riveting portrayal of revolt. Europe today is a very different place to ’69 and for a chunk of the British electorate they can’t leave the continent quick enough. Bruno Vincent’s pastiche Enid Blyton story <a href="">Five on Brexit Island</a> is the near perfect stocking-filler for politicos, remainers or leavers alike. </p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="424" height="640" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">But why should the grown-ups have all the best books? A new Michael Rosen is the highlight of almost any Christmas for younger readers &nbsp;and his latest <a href="">Jelly Boots, Smelly Boots</a> will do anything but disappoint. Newly translated, <a href="">An Elephantasy</a> by Argentine children’s author María Elena Walsh combines surrealism and humour via an adventure that is every bit as revealing as it is funny.</p><p dir="ltr">Even post Bake Off sell-off Christmas is arguably more than almost anything else a culinary event. For those looking to go past the Delias and Jamies three cookery books to expand any chef’s horizons. Ideas to make a break with the traditonal yuletide fare, or simply spice up meal times the whole year round, are aplenty in Meera Sodha’s new book <a href="">Fresh India</a>. Looking beyond Christmas the latest Leon book <a href="">Happy Salads</a> by Jane Baxter and John Vincent will have any wannabe chef eagerly awaiting Spring to try out the vast range of recipes offered for warmer days. Substantially updated and entirely redesigned the second edition of Laila Ed-Haddad and Maggie Schmitt’s <a href="">The Gaza Kitchen</a> is internationalism as you eat. History, politics and delicious recipes for those who like to cook up some solidarity.</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p dir="ltr">And the perfect gift to put under the tree for the activist who is anti-consumerist until he, or she, realises that means no pressies? The new edition of Verso’s <a href="">Book Of Dissent</a> will have ‘em whooping with revolutionary delight not just on the 25th but for the next twelve months too. Or if a different kind of inspiration is required one from Michael Rosen for all from young adults to fully fledged grown-ups, &nbsp;<a href="">What is Poetry?</a> . An easy-to-follow guide to both reading and writing poems, perfect for those with the secret ambition of &nbsp;releasing the inner rhyming couplet. Though our favourite gift is another from Verso, their <a href="">2017 Radical Diary </a>destined to resurrect the annual Big Red Diary that some of a certain political age will remember with fondness. Luxurious design, historical dates and details, quotes, illustrated throughout, it has enough to turn the most dogged pessimist into an optimist for the year ahead. &nbsp;</p><p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// come tumbling cover.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// come tumbling cover.jpg" alt="" title="" width="416" height="640" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>And our book of the seasonal quarter, our number one for Santa’s red list? Well we have two not one because we’ve chosen a theme and there is a pair such outstanding titles it has proved impossible to separate them so we recommend splashing out and getting both. Trump, Farage the #brexit fallout, has seen a revival of a right wing populism built round a naked racism, and with Le Pen 2017 could be worse still. What we desperately need is a popular anti-racism, not talking to each other to confirm our own opinions but to reach out, not pandering to the haters and the misinformed but conversing and where required challenging too. Daniel Rachel’s superb <a href="">Walls Come Tumbling Down</a> chronicles one such effort, via music, from Rock against Racism via 2-Tone to Red Wedge. A period when pop and politics, including Labour, learned how to work together towards what both understood in different ways as the common good. But no such effort would have been remotely possible without the singular experience of Rocking against Racism a story now retold via <a href="">Reminiscences of RAR</a> edited by two who set it all up, Red Saunders and Roger Huddle. This a book full of such sublime enthusiasm and vision it can only leave the reader wondering why nothing remotely like it has come again and what we can do in 2017 to make that happen. Daniel Rachel’s book will help convince us of the pitfalls of simply recreating the past, Roger and Red’s that despite this when culture and politics click anything is possible. Now that’s one Christmas present worth having.</p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// Shot 2016-12-17 at 20.20.48.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// Shot 2016-12-17 at 20.20.48.png" alt="" title="" width="460" height="658" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span><br /><em>Note: No links in this review to Amazon, if you can avoid buying from tax dodgers, please do so.</em></p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Sat, 17 Dec 2016 20:22:51 +0000 Mark Perryman 107747 at We were their flowers in the dustbin: Anarchy in the UK at 40 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>40 years ago this weekend, The Sex Pistols’ Anarchy in the UK was released. Philosophy Football’s <strong>Mark Perryman </strong>remembers </p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// in the dustbin master.jpeg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// in the dustbin master.jpeg" alt="lead " title="" width="460" height="506" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flowers in the Dustbin. Image, Philosophy Football</span></span></span></p> <p>For some of us of a certain age it still seems like yesterday. For others it is something to breathlessly boast to our children, or grandchildren, that yes, we were there. 26th November 1976, the Sex Pistols release their debut single <em>Anarchy in the UK</em> and for as long as the record (remember those?) was on the turntable (ditto) it was as if the world had changed, forever. </p> <p>Back in ’76 I was anything but a teenage muso. Whilst others raved about Pink Floyd, Bowie, Fleetwood Mac and the like I remained musically nonplussed. Meantime the teenybop phenomenon of David Cassidy, the Osmonds, the Bay City Rollers were as meaningless to me as their fictional televised version, The Partridge Family. Rock n Roll was growing old minus the disgracefulness bit. And then the Pistols appeared on London Weekend TV. I was about to have supper, my parents were in the kitchen and I was sent to the lounge to switch the television off. It was incredible, a bunch of misbehaving teenagers, the Pistols, Siouxsie Sioux, the Bromley contingent, telling the disbelieving presenter , Bill Grundy, exactly what they thought of him and his hated establishment with every swear word&nbsp; that I knew enough to know it shouldn’t be used in polite company let alone live on ITV. Thankfully my parents hadn’t heard what I’d heard. But I had, every bit of it. My mind wasn’t exactly on supper that evening. </p> <p>Not only did their TV appearance catapulted the Sex Pistols into the headlines, but the musical movement they represented, punk, sparked a moral panic. Of course youth culture had done this before, back in the 1950s with the Teddy Boys, or the 1960s Mods vs Rockers and most recently early 1970s hippy psychedelia. But by the mid 1970s British politics was in such a state of flux this panic seemed to be of a different order entirely. The miners had been on strike not once, but twice, 1972 and ’74, defeating the Tory government on both occasions. The army were brought in, unsuccessfully, to break both the fire brigades and dustbin workers when they went on strike. They failed. The fascist bootboys of the National Front were on the march and chalking up big votes too, facing fiercely ferocious opposition wherever they appeared. The police were using ‘Sus’ laws, stop and search, provoking a militant backlash. And the opposition Conservative party was describing immigration as ‘swamping’ our culture. </p> <p>The Pistols, with their foul mouths, wilfully out-of-tune music and whining vocals, torn to shreds clothing and safety pins through their earlobes were a two-fingered response to any Establishment attempt to paper over the cracks of this crisis. ‘We’re the flowers in the dustbin, we’re the poison in your human machine.’ Most of us didn’t know the word at the time but this was a very English nihilism: ‘Destroy’, as the Pistols’ sang and their T-shirts demanded.</p> <p>The nihilism wasn’t politically located in any obviously Left v Right sense though the Left liked to think it was because Punks were against the same establishment they were opposed to as well. With the National Front in the shadows there was no guarantee that this propensity to destroy would take a progressive dimension. Not helped either by the Punks’ readiness to wear the swastika as a symbol of the anti-establishment, flirt with Nazi themes in the so-called cause of dissident art and the essential whiteness of the bands and most of their followers. What made this musical moment so special was that not only was any risk of punk’s nihilism becoming a popular force for ugly reaction firmly quashed but an alternative set of connections centred on being both anti-nazi and against racism erected in its place. </p> <p>This was the unique achievement of late 1970s punk. It became almost indivisible from Rocking against Racism, a movement shortly to be chronicled in a brilliant new book <em>Reminiscences of RAR</em>, and marching against the National Front behind the punked up slogan ‘Nazis are No Fun’. Make no mistake, the nihilism of punk could have gone either way but it didn’t and a musical movement of change was created, from below, for perhaps the first, and disappointingly to date, the last time. More than any single band or performer The Sex Pistols were emblematic of that moment and the contradictions therein. They ignited the idea that just about anyone could form a band, put on a gig, write and publish a fanzine. Every city, town, village would generate its own version of what Punk was and might become. Rock against Racism fed into this, anybody could join because there was nothing to sign up to, no membership form, no committee, just a movement we made our own. A musical, and political, attitude that matched the needs and aspirations of each other. And without the Pistols none of that would have been possible. A bit of eff you with a lot of do-it-yourself. We meant it maaan… and still do!</p> <p><strong><em>The Philosophy Football range of 40th Anniversary Pistols’ T-shirts are launched today and available from</em> <a href="">here</a><em>. </em></strong></p><div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Sun, 27 Nov 2016 13:05:52 +0000 Mark Perryman 107153 at A poppy for our thoughts? On footballers' symbols and politics <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Ahead of the England vs Scotland game, what does the reaction to FIFA’s poppy ban tell us about Britain?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>The last time England played Scotland in a competitive match at Hampden Park was also in November: 1999. It was preceded by none of the manufactured row about whether the teams should have poppies embroidered on their shirts.&nbsp; The tabloids were more interested in a good old-fashioned football rivalry instead. <em>The Sun</em> greeted the fixture with the headline ‘Jocks Away’ while north of the border the D<em>aily Record </em>sought to put England manager Kevin Keegan’s over-confidence in its place ‘Boastbusters’ with the unforgettable tagline ‘Scots v The Auld Enemy : See Pages 2,3,4,5,6,7,62,63,64,65,66, 67 &amp; 68.’ This was pre-Salmond and Sturgeon, the irresistible rise of the SNP and the near wipeout of Scottish Labour MPs. And it was before UKIP’s forward march too, culminating in #Torybrexit, a populist version of English nationalism against all things that Europe, and Scotland seems to represent in terms of broadly social-democratic values versus a neoliberal free-for-all. </p><p>None of this entirely explains the row over the players wearing poppies but it does provide a context. It is the same with the emergence of a warped English patriotism that reduces the heroism and sacrifice of those who gave their lives to defend this country in World War Two to just another football chant ‘Two World Wars and One World Cup’. Scarcely present in ’66 when England were beating West Germany in the final, with the Charlton brothers in the side who had vivid memories of growing up during bombing raids on Tyneside while a decent chunk of England’s support in the stands were of an age who’d fought in that war too. Instead the chants emerged after England’s loss to West Germany on penalties at Italia ’90, cranked up again by the same result to the same opponents at Euro ’96. And all this during an era when euroscepticism led by John Major’s ‘bastards’ opposition on the Tory benches emerged to force a key dividing line in British politics. </p> <p>This is the context for the current row. An act of remembrance is not of itself political. But who are we remembering? What did they fight for? Where did they come from to join that fight? The clue is in the title of the two conflicts being marked <em>World</em> Wars One and Two. Britain had a special role as combatants in both but we were not alone. The teams of France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark, Norway, or from further field the Commonwealth countries, the USA, USSR are not clamouring to wear a poppy on their shirts this November. When it becomes all about just the home nations while playing internationals the meaning inevitably changes.</p> <p>FIFA bans all political symbols from adorning any national kits. The Irish are threatened with being punished for embroidering the Easter Rising centenary on to theirs. Almost every FIFA-affiliated country could make a similar case from South Africa and Israel via Armenia and Palestine to Syria and Ukraine. The Tuesday after England play Scotland they take on Spain in the 80th anniversary year of British and others countries’ volunteers travelling there to join the defence of the Spanish Republic against Franco’s fascists. Is the FA suggesting the England team wear something to mark this special moment of solidarity between our two countries? No, no such suggestion. Some symbols are OK. Others not, a choice made by politics.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p> <p>We cannot escape the fact that sport is political, it is a contest just like the one on the pitch. Currently in American sport there is a growing movement of athlete-activism. The NFL player Colin Kaepernick kneeling respectfully but defiantly during the playing of the National Anthem because for millions of Americans, despite Trump, black lives matter. When the USA Women’s Football International, World Cup winner and Olympic Football Gold medallist Megan Rapinoe did the same whilst representing her country she was doing something unheard of over here.&nbsp; </p><p>Or maybe not. Gary Lineker has been hounded by the tabloids for his views on refugees: not just because for what he is saying, but for who he is and was. A footballer, with views, with politics? What right does he have to hold such opinions? But of course sport is full of opinions, some of which we agree with others we don’t.</p> <p>I won’t attempt to predict the England v Scotland score but two things I can be certain of. There won’t be a single Union Jack waved by England fans whereas, 50 years ago, when England hosted the World Cup, the FA managed to get the host country’s flag wrong on all official publicity, the Union Jack not the St George Cross. And there will be plenty of chants inviting the Scots impolitely to stick Nicola Sturgeon somewhere rude. The last time these two teams met in a competitive match, 1999, I doubt many could have named the SNP leader let alone be much bothered about him. </p> <p>My beef isn’t with the poppy nor acts of remembrance. The state-sanctioned patriotism serves to obscure the consequences of carnage from the causes of conflict but that is something to contest not retreat from. The argument should be bigger than this annual dust-up over the poppy. It is about breaking down the false division between sport and politics, to recognise that all sport is political, and for those of us with a progressive vision we have a role in shifting those politics on, and off the pitch, from the reactionary to our side, whatever team we support or none.</p><p><em>Mark Perryman is the co-founder of the self-styled ‘sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction’ aka Philosophy Football from where the 1<a href="">914 Poppies Remembrance T-shirt </a>is available.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/adam-ramsay/hiding-behind-cenotaph-cameron-will-seek-to-re-write-history">Hiding behind the Cenotaph, Cameron will seek to re-write history </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Thu, 10 Nov 2016 17:27:38 +0000 Mark Perryman 106675 at "They did not pass": Lessons from Britain's history of anti-fascist resistance <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Mark Perryman revisits 1936 when anti-fascism was the cause home and abroad. What lessons can be drawn for the left of today?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="p1"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// Shot 2016-09-19 at 17.47.32.png" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="The Cable Street Mural commemorating the Battle of Cable Street, 1936. Photo: jo-marshall / Wikimedia Commons. "><img src="// Shot 2016-09-19 at 17.47.32.png" alt="The Cable Street Mural commemorating the Battle of Cable Street, 1936. Photo: jo-marshall / Wikimedia Commons. " title="The Cable Street Mural commemorating the Battle of Cable Street, 1936. Photo: jo-marshall / Wikimedia Commons. " width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The Cable Street Mural commemorating the Battle of Cable Street, 1936. Photo: jo-marshall / Wikimedia Commons. </span></span></span><em>"Hurrah for the Blackshirts!" </em>This notorious Daily Mail headline is just one chilling indication of the very real threat Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists posed in the mid 1930s. Inspired by the successful rise to power of Mussolini in Italy and Hitler in Germany, Mosley sought to galvanise support via a combination of naked anti-semitism and brute force.&nbsp; By 1936 he was attracting both well-heeled establishment support and thousands of ordinary people to his rallies. Any counter-protests would be dealt with violently by Oswald's supporters, and the police scarcely intervened.</p> <p class="p2"><span>On 4th October 1936, Mosley planned the BUF’s biggest and boldest initiative yet. His uniformed Blackshirts would march through London’s East End, home to one of the country’s largest Jewish communities. The intention was quite clear: to cause fear and stir up hate. On the day, more than a hundred thousand east enders, of any faith or none, turned out to protect their community. The fascists were forced to retreat. "They shall not pass". But there was also a realisation that protest alone would not stop the hateful ideas that Mosley sought to encourage as a vicious diversion from the causes of the East End’s very real problems. Phil Piratin, one of the key organisers of the Cable Street protest, argued successfully that the key to the area’s problems was poor housing, slum landlords, steep rent rises and evictions. He helped organise tenants, including those with BUF sympathies, separating the cause of their living conditions from the lies the fascists spread. Piratin was a communist, and in the 1945 general election - just nine years after the fascists thought they could rule the East End - he was elected the Communist MP for Stepney.</span><span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p class="p1">Earlier that same year, the Spanish civil war that had begun, as General Franco led an armed rebellion against the democratically elected Republican Government. Within weeks of Cable Street, International Brigades of fighters were formed to support the Republican cause. Travelling to Spain, mostly with next-to-no military training, British volunteers went there to join the country’s battle for land and freedom against Franco’s fascism. This internationalism was criminalised by the British government, which backed instead a useless policy of non-intervention while Hitler and Mussolini armed their Spanish ally unimpeded by sanctions or embargoes, let alone military intercession. Prior to the formation of the official International Brigades, foreign volunteers simply organised into informal units to defend the Republic. One of the first was theTom Mann Centuria', made up of Brits living and working in Barcelona. Once this British battalion was officially formed, it joined the 15th Brigade of the Republican Army, which was primarily English-speaking. The fighting Spanish forces included Catalan nationalists, anarchists and anarcho-syndicalists and parties such as the POUM which George Orwell famously fought alongside. All were united however, for the most part, in what was known as a ‘Popular Front’: an alliance of political parties, led by socialists and communists.</p> <p class="p1">In 1938 the International Brigades left Spain, and within less than a year Franco had completed his victory. A fascist regime was installed in Spain. Shortly after Hitler invaded Poland, the second world war began.&nbsp; On the Brigade’s departure, the Communist MP Dolores Ibárruri, known forever as La Pasionaria, spoke, her words remain an inspiration for all those who resist oppression, wherever, whenever, and in whatever form it takes: “It is better to die on your feet than live on your knees."</p> <p class="p1">The Popular Front, which inspired both those who stopped the Blackshirts at Cable Street and those who joined the International Brigades was based on a simple idea: concentric circles of unity. At its centre was the working-class movement; in the 1930s this was most notably the Communists, around which was formed a broader anti-fascist People’s Front. And by the outbreak of the second world war, many countries saw the addition of a third ring: national anti-fascist popular fronts, which enjoyed support far beyond the radical left in those countries determined to resist Hitler, Mussolini and Imperial Japan. Two of the key objectives of the Popular Front were outlined by the architect of the strategy, Bulgarian Communist Georgi Dimitrov: “ Find a common language with the broadest masses as well as overcoming the fatal isolation of the working class itself from its natural allies.” Eighty years on, in a much-changed era for a radical politics of opposition they are principles that nevertheless remain as relevant as ever for all those committed to rebuilding a popular left.</p><p class="p1"><span><span>Mark Perryman is the co-founder of the self-styled ‘sporting outfitters of intellectual distinction’ aka </span><a href=""><span>Philosophy Football</span></a><span>. </span><span>The Philosophy Football range of Cable Street and Spanish Civil War T-shirts is available from</span><span> </span><a href=""><span>here</span></a><span>. </span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/chris-cox/no-pasaran-remembering-battle-of-cable-street">No Pasaran! Remembering the Battle of Cable Street</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/deterritoral-support-group/fascists-and-anti-fascists-alike-treat-protest-like-game-to-be">Fascists and anti-fascists alike treat protest like a game to be won</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Mon, 19 Sep 2016 17:01:16 +0000 Mark Perryman 105465 at Team GB's Olympic triumph is testament to the benefits of social democracy <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Publicly-funded olympians have come home covered in glory, whilst the UK's neoliberal football clubs flounder on the international scene.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p dir="ltr"><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title="Members of Team GB pose for pictures as they arrive back home. Photo: Steve Parsons / PA Wire/Press Association Images. All righ"><img src="//" alt="" title="Members of Team GB pose for pictures as they arrive back home. Photo: Steve Parsons / PA Wire/Press Association Images. All righ" width="460" height="324" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Members of Team GB pose for pictures as they arrive back home. Photo: Steve Parsons / PA Wire/Press Association Images. All rights reserved. </span></span></span>Team GB’s second place in the Rio medals table is nothing less than staggering. It is only 20 years ago that the squad returned with a solitary gold from Atlanta ’96 clinging on to 36th in the table. This sporting nation is now ranked alongside the Olympian superpowers of USA and China. If it hadn’t been for the partial International Olympic Committee ban on their competitors, Russia would have been in the mix too, but this still remains a remarkable Team GB medal haul.</p><p dir="ltr">Unlike the football World Cup, the Olympics medal table is by and large an indicator of global economic and political power. When it comes to the Olympics, the more you have to plough into sport facilities and training for promising young athletes, the better you’re likely to do. Conversely, the superpower nations of USA, China and Russia have not come close to claiming a single men’s Football World Cup title between them. The Olympics is a different story. &nbsp;So how has Great Britain, not a superpower in the same league, ended up on top of the olympic pile?</p><p dir="ltr">20 years ago, as well as Atlanta '96, there was also Euro '96. This England's last semi-final appearance at a tournament. Scotland went out at the group stage, and apart from in France '98, have failed to qualify since. Wales and Northern Ireland each had magnificent campaigns this summer, but apart from that their records have been pretty dismal. For a sport that (despite all the evidence) we still like to think we dominate, the contrast with Team GB's recovery over those same two decades is startling.</p><p dir="ltr">The reasons are not so much to do with a can-do ethic of ‘further, faster, higher’, than a victory of social democracy in a climate of neoliberalism. Yes, that’s right. Via the Lottery, all the most successful Team GB olympic sports are state –subsidised. A huge investment, £350 million over the olympic cycle, or around £5.5 million per gold medal won.&nbsp; But the values of social democracy that pervade this sporting success go further. The funding is subject to democratic rigours of collective regulation and accountability. The Olympic Sports Committee, a public body, controls the regime their athletes train and compete under with a relentless pursuit of olympic success as the pinnacle of all achievement, if necessary at the cost of other competitions and honours.</p><p dir="ltr">The total opposite of this is of course English football. &nbsp;Here neoliberalism rules. Far more money is splashed about. £350 million? That wouldn’t be far off just one Premier League club’s transfer and wages budget for a single season. &nbsp;And for what?&nbsp;<span>The “best league in the world” is going backwards in terms of mounting a serious challenge to win the Champions’ League. And as the recent Euro 2016 Final proved the finest players in Europe, and this was also true of the World Cup 2014 Final too, the world as well, by and large play outside of England too. In classic neoliberal fashion the ‘richest league’ in the world has been wilfully mistranslated into the ‘best league’ in the world.&nbsp;</span></p><p dir="ltr">But the biggest marker of this failure, of course, is the England football team. All the riches in the world and they cannot get past Iceland. They could not even get out of their group at World Cup 2014. The sport’s governing body, the FA, has engineered the total deregulation of their own sport. Every club out for their own end. &nbsp;It’s an unremitting patern of private money chasing individual gain, with no collective endeavour, zero accountability, and hands-off governance. The result is a catalogue of failure.</p><p dir="ltr">No olympic sport would permit such an abdication of responsibility. Thus the big result from Rio can’t simply be measured in the mountain of gold, silver and bronze medals, but in Team GB’s social democratic values beating the free market failure of English football hands down.</p><p><span>However the social-democratisation of Team GB is flawed in one crucial respect. The £350 million bill has given those that enjoy their sport from the sofa a glorious two-and-a-bit weeks. A quadrennial celebration of sport few will forget in a hurry. &nbsp;But while there will be a spike of interest in doing some of these sports, without the infrastructure and funding to meet the largesse splashed out on the elite levels of sporting prowess, these effects will be short-lived.&nbsp; This isn’t to diminish the achievements of the gold medallists. But we need a political conversation – this is about political choices – that makes the connection between the success of a social democratic sports culture for some with one that is available to all. &nbsp;We need to recognise that while TV viewing figures soar, the front page celebrations of olympic success become a daily occurrence, and the gold medal feelgood factor hits the heights, none of this is enough to sustain a fundamental change in sporting culture. Team GB has helped prove what an impact public expenditure combined with regulation can have when pursuing a collective end. And precious few complain; we wallow in the athletes’ successes as if they were our own. Because in a way, they are.</span></p><p><br />But this race towards a thriving sports culture won’t truly be won until olympic-level resources are mobilised towards creating a sports and leisure culture that serves sport for all, and not just for some.&nbsp;If public expenditure is can be used to fund winning gold medals then it can be used to fund the return of school playing fields, build public swimming pools, construct jogging and exercise trails too.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/gerry-hassan/from-tory-values-to-soviet-throwbacks-who-can-claim-victory-over-uks-olympic-success">From &#039;Tory values&#039; to Soviet throwbacks: Who can claim victory over the UK&#039;s Olympic success?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Olympics Mark Perryman Tue, 23 Aug 2016 11:17:38 +0000 Mark Perryman 104919 at Battle of Britains: England vs Wales <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>Looking ahead to England v Wales as competing versions of nationhood</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Wrexham By Markbarnes - Own work, CC BY 2.5</span></span></span></p><p>The traditional ‘Battle of Britain’ match is of course England v Scotland, the very first recognised international football match dating back to 1872 and the most intense of rivalries ever since. The last time two ‘home’ nations met in a major tournament it was again England v Scotland at Euro 96. The spark in so many ways for the break-up-Britain agenda that was to follow the Blair government devolution referendums a year later and latterly transformed into the SNP ‘tartan landslide’. Once derided by Jim Sillars as ‘ninety-minute nationalists’ Scots today are so busy building a nation they can call their own they haven’t much time left over for their under-performing football team, ouch! </p><p>Instead it will be the Welsh who will take the field on Thursday against Scotland’s ‘auld enemy’. An encounter inevitably affected by the ugly scenes the weekend before in Marseille. It was the historian Eric Hobsbawm who once observed, “The individual, even the one who only cheers, becomes a symbol of the nation himself.” This was sadly true of those brutalised encounters in the south of France. Though as my friend Julie Nerney who was there has pointed out the habit of most travelling England fans is to “learn where to go and not to when you travel to games. Avoiding the places where it was obvious there was a chance of things kicking off. Knowing what the signs of a flashpoint were and extricating yourself from any situation where you might simply end up in the wrong place at the wrong time.” &nbsp;</p> <p>And thus in Marseille as Julie reports “Bars in the main square of any town are a magnet for trouble. Many sensible fans give them a wide berth”. This is the hidden story behind the headlines about an episode like Marseille 2016. Meanwhile in another part of town I’d helped organise a fans’ mini tournament England v Russia, another mate, John Lunt, who played describes the experience, “Had fun, we may have lost all our games, but made a few friends when others were doing their best not to.”</p> <p>Little of this features in how most would think of the Englishness on parade at Euro 2016. Britain is a mix of contradictions, at home right now. Bathing in the collective and transnational experience of being European via the Euros while according to the referendum polls more than half the country couldn’t exit the continent fast enough. For the English, such contradictions are exacerbated by a very particular identity crisis. When England and Wales line-up for kick off, each set of players, and fans will belt out their respective National Anthems. The Welsh, <em>Land of our Fathers</em>, while the English, like the Northern Irish, have to sing somebody else’s. Eh? That’s right us and the Northern Irish don’t have an anthem as every other country does, instead we have to sing an anthem that belongs to somewhere else, the UK. Yet the English tenaciously cling to an anthem which isn’t even ours as a source of great comfort. “Long to Reign Over Us, Happy and Glorious” in those two lines the English contradictions of subjecthood are neatly summed up. </p> <p>American author Franklin Foer in his book <em>How Soccer Explains the World</em> points to the range of forces of globalisation which threaten this settled subjecthood, founded on an unchanging notion of what it means to be English. Take a look at the players on any Premier League pitch, in the technical area the managers, coaches and backroom staff, the ownership of the bigger, and some smaller, clubs, the audience in the stands and via TV, the exchange of playing styles and tactics. There is very little left about our football which is precisely English.</p> <p>Despite these forces of Europeanisation and globalisation however Foer makes a key point about soccer(sic) and culture; “Of course, soccer isn’t the same as Bach or Buddhism. But it is often more deeply felt than religion, and just as much a part of the community’s fabric, a repository of traditions”. This is why England v Wales is always going to be about more than a football match. </p> <p>An Englishness subject to imperial and martial tradition helps explain the ugly saliency of immigration as an issue in the Euro referendum non-debate and this reminds me of Satnam Virdee’s description of 1970s Powellism.</p> <p><em>A powerful re-imagining of the English nation after empire, reminding his audience it was a nation for whites only. In that historical moment the confident racism that had accompanied the high imperial moment mutated into a defensive racism, a racism of the vanquished who no longer wanted to dominate but to physically expel the racialised other from the shared space they occupied, and thereby erase them and the Empire from its collective memory.</em></p> <p>The make-up of the England team might appear a powerful antidote to these forces of reaction. But unlike the Welsh, and most particularly the Scots, the English barely possess a civic understanding of nationhood, instead it is mired in the racial. A football team may project some kind of alternative sense of being English but in the absence of political forces to make that argument it’s not enough. In June 2016 that couldn’t be more obvious. </p> <p>None of this will help us predict the score when Bale’s Welshmen take on Rooney’s Englishmen but it certainly helps us understand how such an encounter is framed, consumed and understood. Performance isn’t something restricted just to the pitch y’know. </p> <p><em>&nbsp;</em></p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p> <p>&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/mark-perryman/11-point-plan-to-fix-english-football">An 11 point plan to fix English football</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/mark-perryman/england-euro-2016-team-imagined-community-of-eleven-named-people">The England Euro 2016 team: an imagined community of eleven named people</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Wed, 15 Jun 2016 10:35:34 +0000 Mark Perryman 102989 at An 11 point plan to fix English football <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As Euro2016 begins, England needs a long-term plan to end the 50 years of hurt.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="311" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>By Nicholas Babaian from London - USA v England, CC BY-SA 2.0</span></span></span></p><p>Five decades on from England’s solitary tournament triumph and as the team prepare yet another effort to end these proverbial 50 years of hurt at Euro 2016 it seems as good a time as any to consider a diagnosis. Given it is the Football Association as the game’s governing body that is responsible for fulfilling the ambition a decent starting point is to ask what the FA is for? Football writer Barney Ronay provides a very reasonable answer: </p> <blockquote><p><em>“The real problem for the FA is that it has no real power. It is essentially a front, a fluttering ceremonial brocade of a national sporting body. Football may be rich and powerful, but the FA exists at one remove from this, like Prince Charles complaining pointlessly about architecture from the sidelines.”</em></p></blockquote> <p>And he makes the point that the health of a football nation depends on the active co-operation of forces beyond the sport. </p> <p><em>“The FA neither owns nor controls the mechanics of roots football. It has no power to dictate what Premier League clubs do with young players. It isn’t the nation’s PE teacher. It is instead something of a patsy. One of the FA’s significant functions is to act as a kind of political merkin for the wider problem. Which is, simply, access for all: the right to play, a form of shared national wealth that has been downgraded by those in power for decades.”</em></p> <p>Absolutely, the state off the country’s playing fields and publicly owned sports facilities portray a football nation that doesn’t know how to look after itself. It wasn’t the FA’s gross negligence that concreted over football pitches, privatised council leisure facilities to turn them into middle class domains, refused to control fast food and sugar-heavy drinks leaving them to spike up obesity levels and turned childhood into a daily fright-zone killing off three-and-in, jumpers for goalposts, pavement kickabouts within a generation of ’66. No, we can put all of that sorry mess to neoliberal governments from Thatcher onwards.</p> <p>This is the political context of English football’s decline. Deregulation, of state and sport. After selling off the elite level of their sport, the Premier League – football’s own version of deregulation – the FA as a result has been left with one major responsibility that dwarfs any the others remaining, the national team. To turn that responsibility into a success story and in turn help shift the balance of power and influence from football’s business to sporting interests the ambition has to be to re-establish the England team at the pinnacle of our sport. To do so means challenging sectional and commercial interests for the common good, to ensure the reality of an inclusive England that belongs to all, to celebrate being part of a world game which at its very best is founded on equitability. </p> <p>To that end I offer an 11-point plan to end the 50 Years of Hurt.</p> <h2><strong>1.</strong> Fifty @ 50&nbsp; </h2><p>Fund 50 grassroots football coaches to provide free coaching support for primary age children, boys and girls. And as a support network approach every player who has represented England from ’66 onwards, every manager, assistant and backroom staff too, offer them a mentoring role for coaches, the kids and their families, with an agreement to provide 50 hours of such support a year. Establish a trust fund to ensure Fifty @50 has the finances to still be around in 2066. </p> <h2><strong>2.</strong> The Bobby Moore Centre at Wembley </h2> <p>Right next to Wembley Stadium is one of those facilities providing a number of 5-a-side pitches. It’s privately owned, of no benefit to the FA. What a wasted opportunity. Purchase it outright as the FA’s Bobby Moore Centre, use it as a showpiece to introduce kids, their parents, their club coaches to all that England are trying to achieve at the under 11 level.</p> <h2><strong>3. </strong>Take England back on the road</h2> <p>From 2000 to 2007 the old Twin Towers Wembley closed for demolition and reconstruction. Instead England internationals were played not just at Anfield, Old Trafford, Villa Park and St James’ Park but also Ipswich, Leicester, Derby, Southampton, Middlesbrough and Leeds. An England game became a local event and all the more special for that. The support became more genuinely national than ever before. The enthusiasm for England up and down the country at World Cup 2002, Euro 2004 and World Cup 2006 was surely in part a result. &nbsp;Reopening Wembley squandered all of this. Take England back on the road every year.&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>4.</strong> Schoolboys and schoolgirls double-header international </h2> <p>When the old Wembley closed the tradition of the annual schoolboy international ended with it. Bring them back but with a couple of twists. Alternate between Wembley and one of the top club grounds in the North, make it a double-header, boys and girls. </p> <h2><strong>5.</strong> Bring back the home nations but more too</h2> <p>Bringing back the home nations as an end-of-season tournament for the Under-21s, when not clashing with their Euros with the added spice of a guest nation. Germany or Argentina for starters, Poland or Australia would attract large expat support, an African team provide experience of coping with unfamiliar playing styles. Run men’s and women’s tournaments side by side just like cricket and rugby do.</p> <h2><strong>6.</strong> Football at the Commonwealth Games </h2> <p>Apart from England, and the other GB nations, every other country gets to play in two global football competitions, the World Cup and the Olympic Games, should they qualify of course. &nbsp;England don’t because Olympic representation is under the banner of ‘Team GB’. There is though another global tournament both England and the home nations could enter to get this crucial extra experience, the Commonwealth Games. Except football unlike rugby sevens isn’t a Commonwealth Games sport. Why on earth not?&nbsp; </p><h2><strong>7.</strong> A squad penalty shoot-out league</h2> <p>Once England have qualified establish a weekly training ground penalty shoot-out competition. Officiated by FA staff, for a dedicated website with a league table of results. And for the final round, the last home friendly before a tournament ends with a penalty shoot-out and fans asked to help by doing everything they can to put our players off. </p> <h2><strong>8.</strong> No more Pride, Passion, Belief</h2> <p>‘Pride, Passion, Belief’ used to be the big screen message at Wembley immediately before kick-off for England internationals. Thankfully it’s been taken down but the sentiment remains. They’ll get a team to a quarter-final but by now we should have learned not enough to win trophies. The foreign influence if anything hasn’t gone far enough. Owning up to our technical ability deficiencies requires a cultural shift that has to come from below.</p> <h2><strong>9.</strong> Bid to host age group World Cups and European Championships</h2> <p>Bid for World and European age group championships. Given half a chance we’ve proved across sports and Olympics to be rather good hosts, and for football we already have the facilities in place and all the evidence suggests decent crowds too.</p> <h2><strong>10.</strong> A National Anthem we can call our own</h2> <p><em>God Save the Queen</em> isn’t England’s anthem. If it’s good enough for Wales to have one of their own why not us? We need a song no longer about an institution, but about the nation we’d like to become. It would make the moment when the anthem is sung a special moment rather than one draped in the otherness of officialdom. <em>Jerusalem</em>, yes please.</p> <h2><strong>11</strong>. A 1966 Fiftieth Anniversary FA Congress </h2> <p>An FA Congress bringing together players, coaches, supporters and administrators representing every level of the English game. Football has changed dramatically since ’66, some for the better, some not. But the autocratic way in which it is run has stood absolutely still, if anything it has moved backwards. A Congress to debate in broad terms English football’s future as part of a process towards running the game for all, not just for some. </p> <p>Does all this add up to England wining the World Cup at some unspecified, or as the current FA Chairman foolishly put it, specified date in the future? Quite possibly not, but the issue here is there is only so much an FA that has given up all its powers to govern the game can do. This plan could be activated by the FA even in their much reduced role. Crucially this would signal a start towards reclaiming the primacy of the national team. </p> <p>New European and World Champions do emerge, France and Spain have gone from also-rans in ‘66 to finalists and winners. England does manage regularly to reach the quarter-finals, upgrading to becoming regulars in the last four shouldn’t be entirely beyond us. Croatia, Turkey, Bulgaria, Holland and Sweden have all matched that achievement so why with some modest improvements to our situation shouldn’t England? Because after ’66 the FA utterly failed to act to build on that success, instead assuming there would be more of the same to come. There wasn’t. And then after coming so close again in ’90 the FA did act but with results that proved to be of no help to the England team at all. Many would argue these resulted instead in diminishing whatever prospects it might continue to have. As England line-up in Marseille with a youthful squad threatening to spark an enthusiasm that has scarcely existed since the woeful campaigns at World Cup 2010 and 2014 it is high time to look beyond getting out of a group. Rather what we really need is a fundamental repositioning of the national team in relation to the game. A people’s England we can all be proud of and part of, and you never know march behind on a victory parade. C’mon, we have the right to dream don’t we? </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/mark-perryman/england-euro-2016-team-imagined-community-of-eleven-named-people">The England Euro 2016 team: an imagined community of eleven named people</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Fri, 10 Jun 2016 11:02:33 +0000 Mark Perryman 102864 at Catching up with Portugal <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>As the England team meets Portugal again, national decline is on the country's mind.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="265" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>By Albinfo - Own work, CC BY-SA 2.5</span></span></span></p><p>Thursday night’s pre-Euro England friendly versus Portugal is bound to provoke &nbsp;a 50th anniversary revisiting of England’s best match of the ’66 World Cup. No, not the much feted Final, rather many would argue it was the semi against Portugal. Eventual Golden Boot winner, awarded to the tournament’s top goal-scorer, <span>Eusébio</span>, was in his superlative pomp with the 82nd minute penalty he scored pushing England all the way. Never mind though, the contribution of Bobby Charlton to England’s campaign has tended to be overshadowed by Geoff Hurst’s hat-trick in the Final but it was Bobby’s brace that saved England in the semi, the team running out eventual 2-1 winners.</p> <p>Two years later, once more at Wembley, Charlton’s Manchester United, with Bobby scoring twice, again disappointed Eusébio. United were runaway winners thrashing Benfica, 4-1 to become the first English side to lift the European Cup.</p> <p>The United side of course weren’t all English. Northern Irishman George Best, Scot Paddy Crerand, Irishmen Shay Brennan and Tony Dunne were vital parts of the team. On any other day Scot Denis Law would have been in the starting eleven too but he missed the game through injury. </p> <p>In club football the Anglo-Celtic mix of ’68 United was replicated by other English clubs to deliver stunning European Cup successes. Between 1976 and 1984 seven out of eight European Cups were won by Liverpool (4 times), Nottingham Forest (twice) and Aston Villa. The sole exception? Hamburg, led by one Kevin Keegan. But this club success served to mask the enduring pattern of the national team’s decline while off the pitch hooliganism became almost indelibly connected with being an England fan abroad. Decline and moral panic proved a potent mix. In the <em>New Society</em>, then the house journal of a public sociology, Stuart Weir was one of the few commentators to identify not only the effects but the causes too:</p> <blockquote><p><em>Football is a popular sport, but it belongs to the world of Mrs Thatcher, Howell (Denis Howell, ex Labour Minister of Sport) and Sir Harold (Sir Harold Thompson, FA Chairman), not to the fans. Though workers formed and ran many of the leading clubs, they and the game’s major institutions – the FA and Football League – are now remote from the fans who keep the game going. The clubs are under the control of local business elites who restrict the participation of their followers to separate supporters’ clubs. The young fans get the worst deal. They are herded about with scarcely any respect. If they travel to away games, they are kept strictly segregated at all times and often end up in a pen at the home ground, with a poor view of the match.</em><em> </em><em></em></p></blockquote> <p>Weir was reporting from Italia ’80 where the volume of tear gas fired into the English end at one game was so huge that play had to be temporarily stopped as the players were badly affected too.</p> <p>Italia 90, a decade on, for one glorious moment seemed to put an end to the ignominy on the pitch and the lethal consequence of how fans were being mistreated, such as at Hillsborough ’89. A World Cup semi-final, the first in 24 years after ’66, scraping past reigning European Champions Holland in the Group, thrilling victories over Belgium and Cameroon, and then the manner of the final exit, on penalties against West Germany. Gazza’a unforgettable tears combined with the culture clash of New Order’s <em>World in Motion</em> and Luciano Pavarotti’s <em>Nessun Dorma. </em></p> <p>A new dawn for the England team seemed to beckon. Instead, English decline continued while other countries caught up and then overtook. Portugal? They beat us in the quarters at Euro 2004, and 2 years later at the same stage in World Cup 2006. Since World Cup ’66 England have failed to beat Portugal every time they’ve met in a competitive fixture. England’s last semi was twenty years ago at Euro 1996, a home tournament. As for the rest, not counting the acknowledged European superpowers of world football, Germany and Italy, the following countries have made it to a World Cup or Euro semi in that time. The Netherlands five times, Portugal four, France and Spain thrice each, Turkey twice, Croatia, Greece and the Czech Republic once apiece. England with not one semi-final in twenty years are perennial quarter-finalists at best, not semis or finals, and even that position is now under threat with exits at the World Cup last 16 stage in 2010 and not getting out of their group in 2014. At Euro 2012 we did at least make it to the quarters, and against all expectations too. France this summer will be the big test to see if England can re-establish themselves in the tournament last eight, but compared to others’ records since the last time England made it to a semi, this remains a piss-poor ambition. </p> <p>But of course, winning is what most of England expects. Hence decline, in football as much as anything else is remarkably difficult to recognise let alone accept. We don’t expect to have to measure ourselves against the likes of Portugal do we? To be overtaken, left in their wake, borders on the unthinkable. Yet this is the dawning, if uncomfortable, reality. And in this manner in June two discourses, of the Euro Referendum and the Euro Championship are likely to become hopelessly entwined, inseparable in fact. Perhaps a semi and a vote to remain might combine to satisfy a new ambition. To be part of changing, but not to lead, Europe, towards the better for the both of us. But to get there, football-wise, we’ll need to win a quarter-final for the first time in twenty years. And our most likely opponents at that stage, according to my Euro wallchart? Portugal. Neat.&nbsp; </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="246" height="388" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/mark-perryman/england-euro-2016-team-imagined-community-of-eleven-named-people">The England Euro 2016 team: an imagined community of eleven named people</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Wed, 01 Jun 2016 17:14:27 +0000 Mark Perryman 102631 at The England Euro 2016 team: an imagined community of eleven named people <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What does the newly announced Euro 2016 team tell us about the state of multicultural England?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>1966 World Cup Final, image, UEFA</span></span></span></p><p>The backpages will be full of hopeful optimism after the announcement of England’s provisional squad for Euro 2016. A squad full to bursting with youthful promise, it is the England fan’s lot to believe for 50 years it can never be as bad as the last time, but never as good as the first and only time either.</p> <p>&nbsp;I was six at the time of England winning the World Cup in ’66. Despite it remaining somewhat of an obsession of mine – to declare an interest I’ve just edited the collection <em>1966 and Not All That </em>to mark the 50th anniversary – I have no significant memories. Well apart from one: being Daddy’s little helper collecting tickets on the gate at the Tadworth, Walton and Kingswood summer flower show. It rained and nobody came. Years later I realised why, after checking the date, clashing with the England vs Argentina quarter-final was never going to attract any but the most dedicated of horticulturalists. </p> <p>Four years later and I was a tad more conscious of the appeal of World Cup consumption for adolescent boys. This is how a particular version of masculinity is formed. Ahead of Mexico ’70, garage forecourts had become a battleground for collectables, not that we called them that at the time. Fill up with enough petrol and all manner of goodies to complete collections. The Esso offer was ‘The 1970 World Cup Coin Collection’. I’ve still got mine, the greats from ’66, Banks, the Charlton brothers, Moore, Hurst and Peters alongside the thrusting new stars with Leeds United to the fore – Allan Clarke, Terry Cooper and Norman Hunter. Leeds were in their pomp, Division One Champions the previous season 1968-69, runners-up to Everton 1969-70. They lost the FA Cup Final too that year, the first I can properly remember, to Chelsea and an historic Cup Final too because it was the first to be settled by a replay. The World Cup? My memories are only slightly better, the Final watched live in colour on the TV, a first, round a friend, Grant Ashworth’s, house. </p> <p>Fragments of childhood memories, a mix of history, family, changes in consumption, technological developments affecting how we enjoyed our leisure time, a sense of some kind of north-south divide played out on a football pitch. Flash Chelsea, most of whose first team seemed to live in the leafy suburbs just like me, versus a Leeds of grainy, hard-faced northern-ness. Then the whole lot of them coming together for the common cause, fighting the heat and the altitude of Mexico in England’s name. The was squad made heroically wholesome and real via my much-treasured and, by the time of the tournament, complete coin collection. </p> <p>Monday’s England squad announcement for the Euros &nbsp;performs more or less the same function. Never mind the case for Kane and Vardy leading the line versus old campaigner but underperforming Rooney, or taking a risk on the injured pair Jordan Henderson and Jack Wilshire. There’s the odd surprise: Man Utd starlet Marcus Rashford and the well-deserved return of Andros Townsend too. </p> <p>Fabian Delph? Well, that one got me stumped I must admit, the clamour for Mark Noble was well-deserved making Delph’s inclusion all the more perplexing. No, never mind all that. Rather, the squad with name and number on the back will all perform historian Eric Hobsbawm’s much-quoted dictum “an imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of eleven named people.”&nbsp; </p> <p>My 1970s meant secondary school and England’s failure. The dismal World Cup Qualifier ’73 game against Poland the beginnings of my proper football memories, or should that be nightmares? A youngish and incredibly cocksure Brian Clough in the studio with others of this verbally pugnacious sort, Malcolm Allison, Derek Dougan, Paddy Crerand, giving it their all. I seem to remember a year or so later a BBC Play for Today telling the story of watching the game from the point of view of a Pole living in England. The first mutterings, post-Powellism, of a multicultural conversation. Not on the pitch mind, another of my adolescent collectables is ‘The 1973 Esso Top Teams’, the four home nations’ squads united to form one Top 22. Not one of the players from the England, Scots, Welsh and Northern Irish line-ups pictured is black. It would be facile to suggest that the exclusion was anything to do with racism, there simply weren’t the top black players to pick in those days. </p> <p>However it would be equally facile to pretend that the nostalgia so many of us share for an earlier, pre Premier League big business football isn’t framed also by the racialisation of Englishness. The vocabulary is important here. The Parekh Report <em>The Future of Multi-Ethnic Britain</em>, published in 2000, attempted to carefully navigate the differences between racism and racialisation:</p> <blockquote><p>“<em>Britishness, as much as Englishness, has systematic, largely unspoken, racial connotations. Whiteness nowhere features as an explicit condition of being British, but it is widely understood that Englishness, and therefore by extension Britishness, is racially coded… Race is deeply entwined with political culture and with the idea of nation, and underpinned by a distinctively British kind of reticence – to take race and racism seriously, or even to talk about them at all, is bad form, something not done in polite company.&nbsp; This disavowal… has proved a lethal combination. Unless these deep-rooted antagonisms to racial and cultural difference can be defeated in practice, as well as symbolically written out of the national story, the idea of a multicultural post-nation remains an empty promise.” </em></p></blockquote> <p>Ramsey chose an all-white 1966 World Cup-winning squad not because he was racist but because these were the best players at his disposal. And the same was true of most club sides well into the 1970s. Likewise when Roy Hodgson announced his squad selection he was hardly indulging in the proverbial ‘political correctness gone mad’ when a majority of his players are Afro-Caribbean and mixed race. The fans? In almost all cases couldn’t give a damn, a winning performance is all that matters.&nbsp; </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="246" height="388" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>The issues perhaps get a tad more complex, not to mention fraught, when as a result of globalisation and migration players increasingly are qualified to play for more than one national team. The loudest booing of a black player I’ve ever witnessed at Wembley? When England played Ghana and Danny Welbeck, now injured so won’t be making it to Euro 2016, whose parentage meant he could have played for either team, came on as an England substitute. The moment he crossed that touchline in a senior international the chance of him ever representing Ghana was gone and the away fans let him know the depth of their disappointment. </p> <p>Satnam Virdee describes the essence of a very particular version of English racism, Powellism as:</p> <blockquote><p><em>“A powerful re-imagining of the English nation after empire, reminding his audience it was a nation for whites only. In that historical moment the confident racism that had accompanied the high imperial moment mutated into a defensive racism, a racism of the vanquished who no longer wanted to dominate but to physically expel the racialised other from the shared space they occupied, and thereby erase them and the Empire from its collective memory.”</em></p></blockquote> <p>It is to football’s credit that the England team has been such a powerfully symbolic barrier to these inclinations towards exclusion and expulsion. Of course racism persists, football can only achieve so much, contradictions and contestations remain in and out of the game, but to dismiss the achievement only nurtures the pessimism about the human condition that allows racist attitudes to flourish and grow. </p> <p>To this extent England’s ‘years of hurt’ could legitimately be reconstructed instead as decades of healing. Not enough to shape a winning football team out of a rapidly changing&nbsp; society, mind. &nbsp;Though with the greatest respect to Wales, given a relatively easy Euro draw and a squad of youthful promise, not to mention the goal-scoring sensation this season Jamie Vardy has become, well let’s just say an England fan’s hope springs eternal. And given the scale of these changes, the multicultural team remains scarcely representative. There remains no players from an Asian background within sight of selection, Danny Welbeck would have been one of the few players of an African heritage selected, if Jack Grealish hadn’t had such a dismal season at Aston Villa and made it into the team he would have been &nbsp;the lone representative of one of England largest migrant communities, the Irish (though many others obviously choose to represent Ireland, perhaps the question should be asked: why?) another significant migrant community, the Chinese, remains unrepresented, as do the Turkish. And apart from Phil Jagielka, who failed to squeeze his way in, there are no other contenders with Polish or other former East European nations’ family connections either. And unlike the ’66 squad, which included full back George Cohen, no players of the Jewish faith either.&nbsp; </p> <p>None of this is to advocate that much misunderstood practice, positive discrimination. But it does reveal the narrowness of the particular version of multiculturalism the England team has come to symbolise. And at an elite level the narrowness of the communities from which football recruits, a weakness that Simon Kuper and Stefan Szymanski in their essay <em>Why England Lose</em> contrast with the much wider recruitment base of modern German football, not that they’re anything to worry about mind, what have the losing side in ’66 ever won? Answers on a big postcard please.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/mark-perryman/footballs-greatest-hurt-of-all">Football&#039;s greatest hurt of all: the context for Hillsborough</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/uk/mark-perryman/england-always-dreaming">England always dreaming</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/mark-perryman/euro-2016-vs-euro-referendum-which-one-will-win-out">Euro 2016 vs Euro referendum: which one will win out?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Tue, 17 May 2016 10:36:27 +0000 Mark Perryman 102141 at Football's greatest hurt of all: the context for Hillsborough <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>To understand the Hillsborough disaster, you have to see the context: vilification of football fans and the working class; England's decay, and the violence of the 1980s.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="345" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Superbfc at Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, </span></span></span></p><p>One year after Hillsborough was Italia ’90. Fondly remembered today for Gazza’s tears, an evening, or three with Gary Lineker and the culture clash of Pavarotti’s <em>Nessum Dorum</em> vs New Order’s <em>World in Motion</em>. </p> <p>Italia ’90 was the start of a process, accelerated six years later at Euro 96, towards the embrace of a popular Englishness via football. But the actuality of the time was that until the semi-final against you-know-who, as a tournament, Italia ‘90 was dominated by what had become known as ‘The English Disease’: something quite different to the largely family-friendly multicultiural version of England in a summer tournament of today.</p> <p>Up to 1990, for the preceding five years, all English club sides had been banned from European competition, an unprecedented punishment following crowd trouble involving Liverpool fans at the Heysel European Cup Final resulting in the death of 39 Juventus fans. This was an era when going to football required an unavoidable clash with trouble. </p> <p>There were mass arrests, games dominated by what FA Chairman Sir Andrew Stephen described in 1972 as “the madness that takes place on the terraces”, pitch invasions, matches halted and abandoned. Riots accompanyed European away trips. In 1974, Spurs Manager Bill Nicholson famously pleaded with his supporters “this is a football game – not a war.” </p> <p>Not for some it wasn’t. Mounted police were deployed on the pitch to keep some semblance of order. In 1977, Man Utd were forced to play a ‘home’ European tie at Plymouth Argyle’s ground, the furthest away possible from Old Trafford but still in England, punishment for their rioting fans. The FA was fined because of the riotous misbehaviour of England fans at tournaments. Players were knocked unconscious by missiles thrown from the terraces. Games were forced to be played behind closed doors; fatalities. In the 1985 Bradford stadium fire, there were 56 deaths. On the same day a teenager dies at St Andrews when fighting broke out between Leeds and Birmingham City fans.&nbsp; </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="246" height="388" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>Not nice, but hardly a surprise, <em>The Sunday Times</em> after the Bradford fire described football as “a slum sport played in slum stadiums, increasingly watched by slum people, who deter decent folk from turning up.” It had taken less than two decades for English football’s 1966 golden moment to lose almost all its shine. Following the failures to qualify for the 1974 and 1978 World Cups, England on the pitch finally made it to the 1980 European Championships hosted by Italy. The team were more or less back to the pre-1966 standard, finishing third in their group and thus failing to make it to the semi-final. </p> <p>It was off the pitch that the huge change in what England had become since ’66 was most evident. Other countries had a domestic hooligan problem, however in this era England was virtually unique in exporting it to make trouble at Euros and World Cups. The polar opposite to the Scots’ Tartan Army, England away was an unwelcome side-show. And that situation would more or less persist through to Euro 2000 twenty years later.&nbsp; </p><p>Eventually a seismic change in England fan culture occurred faraway amongst the 10,000 England fans who travelled out to Japan 2002 and England away has thankfully never been the same-old ever since.&nbsp; </p><p>One of the architects of the successful organisation of World Cup 1966, now Shadow Minster of Sport, Denis Howell found himself describing England fan trouble at Euro ’80 as a “national disaster”. He wasn’t alone. </p> <p>When asked to comment on his team’s fans, England manager Ron Greenwood described them as “bastards.” Suggesting “I hope they put them in a big boat and drop them in the ocean half-way back.” FA Chairman Harold Thompson added his own description of England supporters “sewer-rats.” This was the dominant discourse around what it meant to follow England for the fifty years of hurt’s middle two decades: 1980-2000. For a long time, few would challenge it as Stuart Weir bravely did writing for the then sociology house journal <em>New Society,</em> reporting from the England away end at Italy ’80:</p> <blockquote><p>“The Italian police were slow to react, but made up for that by the extreme nature of their reaction. First, squads of police ran out of one of the tunnels and waded into any English fan within reach, regardless of whether they were involved in the affray or not. Shortly afterwards, riot police lined up on the other side of the moat and fired tear gas canisters into the great mass of English supporters in red, white and blue, who were nowhere near the original fracas.” </p></blockquote> <p>Weir accurately locates the skewering of the discourse in terms of the class relations already underpinning modern football twelve years before the abomination the Premier League would arrive.</p> <blockquote><p>“Football is a popular sport, but it belongs to the world of Mrs Thatcher, Howell and Sir Harold, not to the fans. Though workers formed and ran many of the leading clubs, they and the game’s major institutions – the FA and Football League – are now remote from the fans who keep the game going. The clubs are under the control of local business elites who restrict the participation of their followers to separate supporters’ clubs. The young fans get the worst deal. They are herded about with scarcely any respect. If they travel to away games, they are kept strictly segregated at all times and often end up in a pen at the home ground, with a poor view of the match.” </p></blockquote> <p>James Erskine’s superb documentary film of Italia 90, <em>One Night in Turin</em>, heavily based on the peerless Pete Davies book of the same tournament <em>All Played Out, </em>memorably opens with a long sequence of violent crowd trouble<em>. </em>Except this wasn’t anything to do with football. It was the Trafalgar Square Poll Tax riot of earlier that summer<em>.</em> </p> <p>I can still remember that Saturday afternoon. Shamefully, as someone who prides himself on his leftwing principles, I can’t claim to have been marching and demonstrating myself. Instead, I was in a West End cinema. When the closing credits rolled a concerned box office manager appeared on stage to announce it was unsafe for anyone to leave. The West End was in flames with every plate glass window in the vicinity smashed to smithereens. Later that night on the tube home, I listened in to conversations of groups of lads who’d also been held up, this time from leaving home games across the capital and regretting they’d missed out on all the violent fun.</p> <p>The football violence of the 1980s cannot be entirely divorced from a period not just of increasing social division, but mass mobilisation and more than occasional public disorder.&nbsp; Huge CND marches and associated direct action, 1981 inner-city riots at Brixton and Toxteth but elsewhere too, Derek Hatton in Liverpool, Ken Livingstone at the GLC, David Blunkett’s Socialist Republic of South Yorkshire, the 1984-85 miners’ strike, followed by the weekly night-time siege of the new Rupert Murdoch HQ at Wapping. There was an ongoing mainland IRA campaign with the Brighton Grand Hotel Bombing in 1986 arguably its most breathtaking operation of all. In 2009 the <em>New Statesman </em>published a special edition to mark the 30th anniversary of 1989 which it dubbed ‘The Year of the Crowd.’ It ranged over the fall of the Berlin Wall, the Tiananmen Square Massacre and the frenzy in Tehran amongst the huge numbers turning out for the Ayatollah’s funeral. </p> <p>And England? Hillsborough, just another Liverpool FA Cup semi-final, but a day that ended with fans dying simply because they wanted to watch their team. Andrew Hussey contributed the Hillsborough essay in which he makes the following key point to describe the images and memories of Liverpool’s Kop and the fans who stood and sang their hearts out for their team: </p> <blockquote><p>“This was the mob, the crowd, the working class in a group and in action, but it was nothing to be feared. The humour and dignity of this crowd were iconic. These images announced to the world the cultural vibrancy of ordinary people and their pleasures. To this extent, Liverpool fans were as crucial a component of 1960s pop culture as the Beatles.”</p></blockquote> <p>And as everyone knows, the Beatles were bigger than God. But that depth of warm appreciation had been hollowed out by the harsher climate of the 1980s as Hussey succinctly explains:<em> </em>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <blockquote><p>“By the end of the Thatcherite 1980s this same crowd had become the object of scorn and derision. To be working class, to be a football fan, to be unemployed and northern was to be scum.”</p></blockquote> <p>And 96 died. </p> <p>During the 1980s, fans’ behaviour was met with legislative and media mood swings between the uselessness of platitudes and inertia to moral panic and the clamour for the punitive. Those who were in a position to do something ended up doing nothing. The worsening conditions at grounds just got worse, the policing not much better, crowd safety measures close to non-existent, the rising tide of racism looked away from, in the hope that it might go away, or not even caring if it did or didn’t. To go to football, at least for some, was to know something was seriously wrong not just with the game but the fabric of England too. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/stuart-weir/hillsborough-legacy-testifies-to-continuing-contempt-of-britains-elite">The Hillsborough legacy testifies to the continuing contempt of Britain&#039;s elite </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Wed, 27 Apr 2016 18:49:24 +0000 Mark Perryman 101686 at England always dreaming <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>It's St George's day. But why do those who ask the English question fail to talk about the main expression of Englishness?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="246" height="388" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p><p>In CLR James’ magnificent book on Caribbean cricket <em>Beyond a Boundary</em> he criticises both liberal and socialist historians of 19th century England who can write books on the period entirely missing out any mention of the most famous Englishman of the era, cricketer WG Grace. Recently I was reminded of this by a spate of articles seeking to remind the left that it ignores at its peril The English Question. </p> <p>David Marquand manages to write <a href="">a <em>New Statesman</em> essay</a> on the subject without mentioning the most salient and obvious expression of Englishness at all, not once. Timothy Garton-Ash writes <a href="">a similar piece</a> for the <em>Guardian</em> choosing to ignore this most obvious of expression of Englishness too, though to be fair he does give rugby a passing mention. I am of course referring to football, a subject the political class wears as a badge of faux-authenticity without actually having the merest grasp of its meaning for a debate they now hold so dear.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>My home town is Lewes in East Sussex. Home of Tom Paine, the Bloomsbury Group and Bonfire, you don’t get much more traditionally English than this. Yet despite a spot of Saturday morning Morris Dancing outside The Volunteer St George’s Day will pass by scarcely noticed (it’s today in case you haven’t).</p> <p>This St George’s Day is a tad special for those of a literary persuasion as it also marks Shakespeare’s 400th anniversary. I’m not one for cultural relativism, I’ve as much time for the Bard as most but the most influential piece of writing in the English language isn’t Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet or Midsummer Night’s Dream. Instead it’s a book written by committee in a room above a pub, The Freemason’s Arms in Covent Garden. On 26th October 1863 the thirteen laws of football &nbsp;were codified in a single rulebook and adopted at the meeting that founded the world’s first Football Association.</p> <p>No, this isn’t some misguided claim to England being the ‘home of football’, those days are long gone. Rather it is a means to understand how football frames both a brutish form of nationalism and the most popular version of internationalism.&nbsp; Sometimes at one and the same time. Football is the most global of sports because of its simplicity, its suitability to be played on almost any surface, with next to no equipment – ‘jumpers for goalposts’ will do – by bodies of any shape or size, and for the very few it is a route out of poverty from wherever they come. Football is both a global actor and a global subject. Football is played all over the world more or less according to those thirteen rules adopted more than 150 years ago. Our ‘English’ game couldn’t be more globalised : the players, the managers, the owners, the shirts sponsors, the fans, the TV audience. </p> <p>The two processes exist side-by-side, globalisation and localisation, occasionally in conflict but mostly not. What the commentariat fail to account for is how that co-existence and conflict become a lived experience, a subject of popular discourse. Take a traditional symbol of national identity, national dress. What might we imagine England’s to be? A busby and red tunic? A Morris Dancer?&nbsp; A crusader complete with chainmail? Not bloody likely, ours has only one contender, a bri-nylon England football shirt with the Three Lions and that frankly embarrassing solitary gold star positioned over the left tit. An easy-looking group on paper to top at this summer’s Euros and the St George Cross will be everywhere it isn’t today. Saturday 25th&nbsp; June is pencilled in for a Group 16 game before the country goes expectation overboard ahead of the near-inevitable, but plucky, exit at the quarter-final stage Friday 1st July.&nbsp;&nbsp; </p><p>Five decades on from England’s ’66 golden moment and just the two semi-finals, don’t mention either the score, how we lost, or to whom, on both occasions, please. But there’s been one achievement of perhaps more significance than all this heaped up failure. The one and only World Cup England has hosted and the FA manage to get the effing flag wrong. That’s right, check out 1966’s <em>World Cup Willie</em>, the first-ever tournament mascot, and he’s wearing a Union Jack waistcoat. Same flag all over the rest of the tournament publicity too. There’s not a St George Cross, an English flag, to be seen anywhere. Today it is entirely different, this summer St George in England will be universal. Historian Eric Hobsbawm put it rather neatly to explain why; “An imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of named people”.&nbsp; As a team England has failed ever since to come anywhere close to ’66 but as a means of making England a nation for as long as our stay in a tournament football has no serious rival.&nbsp; </p> <p>This gets us somewhere close to the core of the mythology of ’66. England’s singular footballing golden moment and the ensuing 50 ‘years of hurt’ are too often treated in isolation from the broader actuality of national decline. A political class seduced by the apparent spoils of neoliberalism while turning its back on a very English version of social-democracy, the post-war settlement of ’45. A nation that looks back in anger to the era of great white hopes unsure of how this fits with the multicultural team and country we have become. </p><p>The commentariat, sparked by both the rampant success of the SNP and the forthcoming Euro-referendum pleads for an awakening of the English question. But where is their national narrative, what would they start it with? 1966 was a year and a moment of English bliss that explains all that came after. A popular history of England that begins with sublime victory, ruling the world, team and crowd founded on deference followed by a seemingly irreversible period of decline and the ‘hurt’ this causes. Sounds familiar?&nbsp; Despite all those St George Cross flags bedecking England this summer to date none of the dots of between the popular and the political have even begun to be joined up. In a society so rooted in the anti-political this is hardly any surprise. A language and politics to cross this great divide will need to find an entirely different language and means of conversation.&nbsp; Never mind <em>1066 and All That</em>, 1966, what a great place to start the chat. </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/uk/mark-perryman/ireland-and-britain-hundred-years-later">Ireland and Britain, a hundred years later</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/mark-perryman/euro-2016-vs-euro-referendum-which-one-will-win-out">Euro 2016 vs Euro referendum: which one will win out?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Fri, 22 Apr 2016 23:00:01 +0000 Mark Perryman 101539 at Ireland and Britain, a hundred years later <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p style="margin-bottom: 0cm; font-weight: normal;">On St Patrick’s Day and the meaning of the forthcoming Easter Rising centenary for models of Britishness.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="259" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>British troops in Dublin during the Easter Rising</span></span></span></p><p>St Patrick’s Day across England has always been more of a party than our own St George’s Day. Down the local, one of the best night outs of the year, a non-stop evening drenched in all things Irish. A celebration of Ireland’s freedom, which can never be entirely separated from its place in English, and British, history either.</p> <p>For decades it was Ireland that defined first the British right (the 'Conservative and Unionist party', remember) and then latterly the street-fighting far right too with their links to loyalist paramilitaries and hatred of all things otherwise from Ireland. Today such connections are broken, the last remnants being the unofficial insertion of ‘no surrender’ into the national anthem (sic) by a section of the football crowd at England internationals. <em>No surrender</em>? To what exactly?</p> <p>Meantime Britain is breaking-up. Scotland has effectively already gone native. The Welsh aren’t that far behind. Northern Ireland has been an entirely different polity to the mainland for decades. making the niceties of the union no more than a constitutional detail this side of the Irish Sea. Brutal, but true. </p> <p>But the framing of our Britishness via its relationship to Ireland has to be accounted for by a range of factors beyond the narrowly political. St Patrick’s Day is emblematic of the complexity and contradictions. To give us our due Britishness is far more accommodating and porous than it is often credited for. Any raising of St George in the cause of England has to account for the changes resulting from becoming the most multicultural of the four ‘home’ nations. This makes race a central issue, both the racialisation of Englishness but a popular and potent English anti-racism too. </p> <p>St Patrick’s Day is a moment to reflect on the open-ness at its best Englishness encourages, this most mongrel of nations, the clue is in the hyphen, anglo-saxon. Beyond the body politic music, literature, film and sport are spaces where a particular version of Irishness has been embraced. From punk icons Stiff Little Fingers to the Pogues, Sinead O’Connor and the Corrs via the Hothouse Flowers and Sawdoctors to the mega-success of U2 this is a cultural insurgency that cannot be lightly discounted. Not so long ago, North London’s Finsbury Park would be packed out for the two-day <em>Fleadh</em> festival with an extraordinary range of artists parading their Irish heritage. Glasgow’s <em>Celtic Connections</em> celebration today does something similar. </p> <p>Roddy Doyle, particularly with his Barrytown trilogy of novels, transformed for a generation what Irish identity might look like: full of humour yet never losing sight of where they’d come from and what Ireland had been though to get there. In his recent work, though a more obviously political author, Doyle however hasn’t lost his popular edge. </p> <p>This summer, in the year of the 1916 Easter Rising centenary, Northern Ireland and the Republic will both compete, together and independently of one another, in a major football tournament for the first time. At Euro 2016 there will be two ‘Green and White Armies.’ There’s some history here, not apart from the politics but affected by it, and shaping the political in return too. Northern Ireland made it to World Cup ’82 in Spain, with Martin O’Neill a star of the team who now manages the Republic. They were there in Mexico four years later too for World Cup’86. Then the Republic kind of took over, Euro ’88, Italia 90, World Cup ’94 , managed by Englishman Jack Charlton, one of the heroes of the England ’66 World Cup-winning team. </p> <p>Big Jack built an Irish team around finding players in the English and Scottish leagues who qualified for Ireland via parentage but previously had never thought of playing for the Republic. Those two managers, then and now, their background, tells us a story of a modern Ireland too, often discounted and ignored in other narratives. Flexible national identity anyone? </p> <p>Charlton of course in his selection policy excelled in the bending of who can and can’t ‘represent’ Ireland. But something more important than who would wear the green was perhaps underway. As the troubles in Northern Ireland edged their way towards an unfolding peace process on the pitch and in the stands what it meant to be Irish and what Ireland might become was being transformed. We’ll see the results once again this summer.</p> <p>But there remain those who would prefer to rewrite their own history. Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell were on Labour’s backbenches when the IRA’s military campaign was in full and lethal swing. They were amongst the few who at the time argued that what was needed was a political solution and this must include both a dialogue with those behind the bombing and the ending of injustices dished out. They were demonised as ‘terrorist sympathisers’ then. A Tory Party that seems to have forgotten John Major’s role in initiating the peace process is clearly gearing up to use those self-same smears now against a Labour leader and his shadow chancellor some thirty years later. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// nor kaiser.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// nor kaiser.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="460" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>In Irish politics meanwhile we have seen the emergence of the civic nationalism of Sinn Fein, first mostly in the North but increasingly in the South too, though of course it goes without saying that Sinn Fein like all those committed to a United Ireland recognise no such border. An anti-austerity party that sits in the European Parliament with the European United Left alongside socialist and communist parties is a very different proposition to what might have been imagined was possible at the height of the Provos campaign in the 1980s. And in the 2016 Irish general election, alongside the election of Sinn Fein Tds, anti-austerity TDs were also elected, while the Irish Labour party continued its woeful decline, or Pasokification. Sinn Fein and the Anti-Austerity Alliance/People Before Profit alliance don’t entirely share the same politics but what they do have in common is a militancy they claim as a shared inheritance from Easter 1916. </p> <p>A centenary is an excuse, of course, for looking back and that search for meaning is always contested, or at least it should be. We should be able to account for the cultural shifts in how Irish national identity is shaped, the politics of Sinn Fein and others’ civic nationalism understood while the factors that created the conditions for a political solution in place of a military strategy perhaps in these troubled times demand the most careful revisiting of all. </p> <p>This year’s St Patrick’s Day for many will be the prelude to the Easter Rising Centenary celebrations just a week and a bit later. The connections between the popular culture of a night out, and a political legacy will never have been more obvious. Dublin today is a serious competitor to Barcelona and Prague as amongst budget airline travellers’ favourite European destinations for a city break, another instance of the connections between the cultural and the political. Many will visit O’Connell Street to take a snap of the iconic Dublin General Post Office. But of course this isn’t simply a splendid example of late Georgian architecture nor merely a handy place to post a postcard home. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="287" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>It was the HQ in 1916 for the men and women who fought in the Easter Rising. This is a rebel city, a rebel culture, a rebel country that was to break the Union. Ahead of the rising across the front of Dublin’s Liberty Hall, home of the Irish Transport and General Workers Union, a banner was hung ‘We serve neither King nor Kaiser but Ireland.’ This was the nature of that break, the cause of self-determination and independence. Yet as Fintan O’Toole has pointed out, some quarter of a million Irishmen fought in the first world war on the British side and during the course of the Rising 570 Irish soldiers lost their lives on the Western Front following a particularly lethal German gas attack. So that breakage is complicated, it was partial and while some defined their nationalism as ‘my enemy’s enemy is my friend’ whatever their motives and intentions, others didn’t. And Irish Nationalism had its internationalist side too, the Irish volunteers who fought with the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War famously called themselves The Connolly Column, their Irishness fusing with the cause of land and freedom. While others defined the cause of Ireland in terms of the purity of a particular version of Catholicism to side with Franco against the Spanish republic. </p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="// stars.jpg" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="// stars.jpg" alt="" title="" width="460" height="393" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span></p> <p>Today a faith-based politics is of decreasing importance in present-day Ireland as evidenced by the Republic’s referendum vote in favour of equality in marriage for Lesbians and Gay men. It was James Connolly’s vision that “the Irish people will not be free until they own everything from the plough to the stars”. It is this vision that more than anything should frame how we celebrate Easter 1916. As a very Irish moment when the human potential of freedom and equality was most evident and could never be extinguished whatever the scale and might of the forces ranged against it. To that all of us, Irish or not, should gladly raise a glass on Thursday night. Happy St Patrick’s Day! </p> <p><em>Philosophy Football’s Easter 1916 T-shirt range, 20% off until St Patrick’s Day quote coupon code</em> <strong>Easter 2016</strong> <em>at checkout. The T- shirts are available from</em> <a href=";_a=category">here</a> </p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/piaras-mac-%C3%A9inr%C3%AD/britain-and-ireland-%E2%80%93-lives-entwined">Britain and Ireland – lives entwined </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/robin-wilson/irelands-lost-revolution">Ireland&#039;s lost revolution</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> uk uk Mark Perryman Wed, 16 Mar 2016 13:29:42 +0000 Mark Perryman 100654 at Euro 2016 vs Euro referendum: which one will win out? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>The Brexit referendum will fall in the middle of the Euro 2016 football championship, where England (not to mention Wales and Northern Ireland) will feel at their most "European".</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="183" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Euro 2016 and the Referendum will collide this summer</span></span></span><span>David Cameron - you know the one who gets his Villas and West Hams all in a muddle when professing his undying love for a team in claret n blue - obviously wasn’t checking the summer fixture lists when plumping for a date to have a Euro Referendum.</span></p> <p>Not content with peeing off the Scots and Welsh with a vote just weeks after their 5 May elections, and Londoners too who vote for a Mayor on the same day Dave has also chosen to clash with football’s European Championships. And not only will much of England be transfixed on the tournament, but with Wales and Northern Ireland qualified, three ‘home’ nations will be there together at a Euro or World Cup for the first time since World Cup ’82, more than thirty years ago.</p> <p>In anybody’s book this is an historic achievement likely to spur huge popular interest, woe betide any canvassers, from either side, who interrupt those with eyes, ears and emotions transfixed on the TV for the games. The TV schedules for debates will have to be arranged not to coincide with games. Big rallies on any night our teams are playing will have row after row of empty seats.</p> <p>Just as the argument, in or out, reaches the proverbial fever-pitch a decent chunk of the English, Welsh and Northern Irish population (with the Republic qualified too both communities over there) will be maxing out their interest in all things European. And the Scots? Cheering on anyone but England, naturally!</p> <p>This could be a fascinating mix. Those papers trumpeting get out of Europe on the front pages breathlessly reporting on results from being in Europe on the pitch splashed across the back pages.</p> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none caption-xlarge'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="251" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload caption-xlarge imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>The opening ceremony of Euro 2012, which was jointly held in Poland and Ukraine. Wikimedia. Public domain.</span></span></span>Such a football vs politics fixture clash has some form beyond canvassers having doors slammed in their faces because they’ve interrupted a household watching a match on TV. In ’66, Wilson won a Labour landslide just ahead of England winning the World Cup and promptly draped his early version of Labour modernisation, the white-hot-technological variety, in all things football and Beatles. More than a generation before Blairism’s <em>Cool Britannia</em>, Harold’s ‘Have you ever noticed England only ever win the World Cup under a Labour Government’ is surely the definitive football-politics soundbite.</p> <p>Four years later Wilson decided not to call a General Election until after the Mexico ’70 World Cup fully expecting an England team many considered to be better than the ’66 squad to retain the trophy. They didn’t, losing 3-2 to West Germany in the quarters. A team that was past its glory days, a country looking for something different after six years of Labour. Edward Heath, a yachtsman, not a football fan, led the Tories to victory.</p> <p>In 1988 Jim Sillars scored a sensational by-election win for the SNP but lost his seat at the following 1992 General Election. This was in the midst of an era when Scotland qualified for Euros and World Cups including Italia ’90 and Sweden ’92. The Tartan Army were everywhere but no SNP breakthrough as a result. </p><p>An angry Sillars derided the supporters as ‘ninety-minute nationalists’. Now we have the obverse, no Scots team has qualified for a tournament since World Cup ‘98, the SNP’s support never greater. Ninety-minute nationalism? The commitment is so all-consuming it seems like the Scots barely have time for the football.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>In ’96 England hosted the European Championships. When England made it through to the semis (look away now if the score and manner of the exit is too painful to watch) there are well-substantiated rumours John Major considered calling a snap General Election if England should win the tournament and kill off new Labour before it was too late. A semi-final defeat to Germany, on penalties, put paid to that idea.</p> <p>Not to be outdone Blair wrapped his 1996 Labour Conference in the opportunity he believed Euro ’96 had carved out for new Labour:</p> <blockquote><p>“Labour’s coming home! (Applause) Seventeen years of hurt never stopped us dreaming. Labour’s coming home! (Applause) As we did in 1945 and 1964, I know that was then, but it could be again – Labour’s coming home. (Applause) Labour’s coming home.”</p></blockquote> <p>Cringeworthy doesn’t even begin to do those words justice. Still, it didn’t seem to do Blair very much harm and the rest is history.</p> <p>And so history sends us rather mixed messages about Euro football vs Euro Referendum fixture clash. The most likely outcome will depend on which campaign has the best popular vision to project the meaning of Europe. So far the signs are dismal from both camps, in fact the entire commentariat - not to mention Cameron himself - appear to have entirely missed the clash of dates, and these people call themselves well-informed and in touch?</p> <p>My vision of Europe is rooted in popular culture, not the Westminster bubble politics of which self-serving Tory is stabbing another self-serving Tory in the back. National teams competing against one another, an expanded competition to recognise the new Europe, the free travel and mixing of fans and fan cultures, at home with our own ways of supporting our team, excited to take these on our travels away too. </p><p>And UEFA, or FIFA? Not much love lost between us and them, institutions in dire need of reform but we’re not walking away from the need to change them either. Europe as a place we can call home when we want to, abroad when we don’t. </p> <p>And the final score? If England, Wales and Northern Ireland combine to disappoint I wouldn’t count on support for staying in Europe doing very well as a result. But as I expect England to top their group, Wales come second, Northern Ireland stage an upset or two, France 2016 could prove to be one big party of being part of Europe not apart from. Never mind the establishment campaigns, instead expect a populist wave of Euro-enthusiasm to sweep Yes to victory.&nbsp;</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/mark-perryman/football-this-is-what-being-european-looks-like">Football: this is what being European looks like</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/pascal-boniface-benjamin-grizbec/football-and-its-role-in-unifying-european-publi">Football and its role in unifying the European public space</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/dario-brentin/nations-most-holy-institution-football-and-construction-of-croatian-national-identity">The Nation&#039;s Most Holy Institution: football and the construction of Croatian national identity</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? UK BrexitChasm Mark Perryman Tue, 23 Feb 2016 09:18:31 +0000 Mark Perryman 99995 at Football: this is what being European looks like <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>What’s the most Europeanised institution in British society? The answer is easy if you think about it.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="460" height="307" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_xlarge" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Arsenal FC, which has at times fielded teams with no English players. Wikimedia/Ronnie Macdonald. Creative commons.</span></span></span><span></span></p><p><span>When I ask the question more often than not I am greeted with a sea of blank faces. ‘What’s the most Europeanised institution in British society?’ Easy! Easy! One-nil to me. Are we getting warm yet? Yes, a football club. From the owners and major shareholders, the management and coaching staff , via players on the pitch, youthful prospects training in the clubs’ academies, the competitions the clubs aspire to be part of, the shirt sponsors and pitchside advertising, the fans in the stands, the TV and wider media audience.</span></p> <p>To win the debate on Europe, not that there’s much evidence of anything resembling a debate just yet, we need to entirely reinvent the terms of it. Football is as good a place to start that vital, and urgent, process as any other. Europeanisation of British football isn’t all good, of course. Foreign owners at the expense of supporter ownership. Domestic talent not getting a look in because overseas players and managers are too readily preferred. </p><p>Global TV rights sold amounting to billions of pounds but ticket prices just keep going up, and up, and up. All of this is true but precious few fans would want to disconnect their football from Europe, and most would celebrate a decent proportion of the consequences of our national game going European as positives. OK it helps if you’re winning. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">OK it helps if you’re winning.</span></p><p>When Newcastle supporters were basking in the success of their team’s French imports restoring the club to winning ways they famously renamed their favourite pre-match drinking hole The Strawberry, <em>La Fraiche</em>. Once the decline and fall returned it became all about those same French imports not having the stomach for a relegation scrap that true-born Geordies would have.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>But look again at the bigger picture. Think how Cantona, Ronaldo, Vieira and Henry, Klinsmann and Zola have transformed English football, for the better, on the pitch. Wenger, Koeman, Martinez, in the technical area have immeasurably improved how the top-flight game is played. Who in Leicester this season would resent the fact that it is an Italian, Ranieri, in charge rather than their former manager, Englishman Nigel Pearson?</p> <p>What can be said of football can to a large extent be said of the food we eat, the beer and wine that we drink, the fashion labels we dress ourselves in, the music we listen and dance to, the films and TV programmes we watch, the places we holiday in. British culture is increasingly Europeanised and most, if not all, are more than happy that it is. </p><p>This is a popular internationalism, not of the solidarity with this, boycott that activist variety but every bit as, if not more, important. The question we should be asking is ‘What has Europe ever done for us?’ Plenty. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">The question we should be asking is ‘What has Europe ever done for us?’ Plenty. </span>And to those who retort, two world wars that’s what, it is Europe that both defeated the causes of both and since ‘45 has created the conditions to prevent a third one thank you very much.<span>&nbsp;</span></p> <p>There is of course the issue of immigration, but in almost every case there is next to no mention of emigration. Europe is a continent of job, education and lifestyle opportunities. To return to football as our conversation-starter. Instead of worrying so much about all those gifted foreign players wanting to come and play here we should be asking why so few of our players want to play abroad? The millennial generation will increasingly see Europe as their workplace, the place to study and train, a cultural common ground. Who are we to deny them that opportunity? Or is the Europe of the future only to be for those who can afford a French second home or a Spanish property to retire to?</p> <p>What the in/out debate desperately needs is a popular vision of the Europe we want to become. A continent we are part of, not apart from. Britain as a European state like the rest of them not a so-called island race that patently ignores its history as a mongrel nation. Ironic really when 2016 marks the 950th anniversary of the Battle of Hastings and the Norman Conquest. <span class="print-no mag-quote-left">In almost every case there is next to no mention of emigration. Europe is a continent of job, education and lifestyle opportunities.</span></p><p>And of course this is an island too that is on the verge of its own breakdown too. ‘Who shall speak for England’ the <em>Daily Mail</em> asks while on its back page the sportswriters regale the readers ahead of rugby’s Six Nations with how much they hate the Scots, and vice versa. What was once only true on the pitch is now absolutely the case off it. </p><p>Not the fired-up rivalry in the stands but a political division as the dawning realisation that Scotland and England are two separate nations takes root in the body politic. And once Scotland breaks away, as in every meaningful sense it already has, Britain no longer exists. ‘Who shall speak for England?’ </p><p>Whoever decided that Englishness is somehow the most anti-European of the lot is as out of touch with English popular culture as only a campaign led by an octogenarian, failed Chancellor of the Exchequer climate-change denier could be. Perhaps he should ask his daughter from which countries she gets all those tasty and best-selling recipes from for pasta, moussaka, paella or <em>coq au vin</em> from?&nbsp;</p> <p>Cosmopolitanism is what this debate is all about. To change all that is wrong with the institutions post-war Europe created we have to be in it. Only the cowardly walk away. Lawson, Nigel not Nigella, and their ilk want the kind of uncomplicated Britain that existed before the Beatles played Hamburg and changed the world, Celtic and Man Utd won the European Cup , the corner fish and chips shop were overtaken by home-delivery pizza joints and the mini was built and manufactured somewhere or other but certainly not here. <span class="print-no mag-quote-right">Nigels Lawson and Farage vs Nick Clegg and Alan Johnson, these are yesterday’s men.</span></p><p>Have France, Italy, Spain, Germany surrendered their culture, their language, their history at the expense of being European? Of course not. And neither have, or will, we. Do the Dutch and the Germans, the Spanish and Portuguese retain their differences via their rivalry. </p><p>Absolutely, as no doubt we will continue to do so with France and just about everyone else the other side of the Channel. And do parties including Syriza, Podemos, Left Bloc, Die Linke campaign to change Europe for the better? Yes and so should the English, Scots, Welsh left too, as constituent parties of a wider European Left of great variety.</p> <p>Our side is popular and cosmopolitan, modern and European. The other lot narrow and inward-looking, out of touch and ancient, stop the world we want to get off and can’t wind the clock back quick enough. Ours are values rooted in the present but with an eye and purpose on a better, European, future. We cannot rely on the referendum debate being framed in these terms. Nigels Lawson and Farage vs Nick Clegg and Alan Johnson, these are yesterday’s men. One line-up of business leaders vs theirs reducing the argument to number crunching that few have very much faith in.&nbsp;</p><p>Editors providing the anti-or pro case in papers that are read by fewer and fewer, trusted by less and less. For values and visions that matter we’ll have to look elsewhere, a Europe from below, together as Europeans of many different nations. Not out, but in to shake it all about. To the foundations if you don’t mind. Our single European currency, a faceless institution or a banknote in our pocket?&nbsp; Don’t make me laugh. It’s a culture, for me its my football, for others something else and we’re not giving it up for nobody. <em>This</em> is what a European looks like.</p><p>----</p><p>Mark Perryman’s book <em>1966 and Not All That</em> is published in April by Repeater Books. <a href=""><em>Philosophy Football’s</em></a> Another Europe is Possible campaign T-shirt is now available just £9.99 from<a href=""> here</a><em></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/pascal-boniface-benjamin-grizbec/football-and-its-role-in-unifying-european-publi">Football and its role in unifying the European public space</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/marigona-uka/kosovo-united">Kosovo United?</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/catherine-stupp/my-turkey-berlin-immigration-and-amateur-football-scene">&#039;My Turkey&#039;: Berlin, immigration and the amateur football scene</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/dario-brentin/nations-most-holy-institution-football-and-construction-of-croatian-national-identity">The Nation&#039;s Most Holy Institution: football and the construction of Croatian national identity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/aslan-amani/football-in-turkey-force-for-liberalisation-and-modernity">Football in Turkey: A force for liberalisation and modernity?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/catherine-stupp/proud-to-be-german-football-and-fear-of-nationalism">Proud to be German? Football and the fear of nationalism</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/edin-dedovic/bosnian-national-football-team-case-study-in-post-conflict-instituti">The Bosnian national football team: a case study in post-conflict institution building</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/micha%C5%82-syska/commercialisation-and-nationalism-in-polish-football">Commercialisation and nationalism in Polish football</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/can-europe-make-it/isotta-rossoni/football-italian-synecdoche">Football: an Italian synecdoche?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/joel-sharples/does-democracy-make-germany-better-at-football">Does democracy make Germany better at football?</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> <div class="field field-rights"> <div class="field-label">Rights:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> CC by NC 4.0 </div> </div> </div> Can Europe make it? Can Europe make it? UK Brexit Mark Perryman Joining the dots on football in Europe Thu, 18 Feb 2016 23:37:58 +0000 Mark Perryman 99921 at One year on from Team GB what remains of Britain united? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>In the run up to the London Olympics, Lord Coe maintained that the event last year would be a chance to exhibit Britain's incredible variety of cultures. To what extent was the true state of multiculturism exhibited in this country, and what purpose does sport have in terms of national identity?</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_none 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="400" height="286" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'><span class='image_title'>Flickr/Doug Wheller - some rights reserved</span></span></span></p><p><em>Editor of the new book&nbsp;<a href="">London 2012 How Was It For Us</a>&nbsp;Mark Perryman reviews the Olympics’ legacy for Britain’s National Identity&nbsp;</em></p><p>Central to debates on Britishness is the issue of race, usually framed around the issue of what is meant by multiculturalism. And multiculturalism was a key signifier that London, and Britain as a whole, were expected to represent in the 2012 Olympics.&nbsp;Many believe that London’s 2005 bid to host the Olympics bid was given the edge over the favourite, Paris, by Lord Seb Coe’s passionate promotion of London as a multicultural city, a home to the world. As the bid presentation ended in Singapore, Lord Coe introduced thirty youngsters on stage: “Each from East London, from the communities who will be touched most directly by our Games.” This was on 6th&nbsp;July 2005. The very next day London would be rocked by explosions on the London Underground and the bus system, in 7/7. The juxtaposition couldn’t have been more dramatic, with many, too many, blaming the atrocities on the very multiculturalism that Seb had been celebrating as a London virtue via the thirty star-struck youngsters beside him on the Singapore stage: “Thanks to London’s multicultural mix of 200 nations, they also represent the youth of the world. Their families have come from every continent. They practice every religion and faith.”&nbsp;</p><p><strong>A Summer of Discontents</strong>&nbsp;</p><p>As writer on race and sport Dan Burdsey has memorably put it, apart from the athletes themselves, “You will often see a significant presence of minority ethnic people in the stadium; they will be directing you to your seat or serving your refreshments. The racialised historical antecedents and continuing legacy of these roles - entertaining or serving the white folk - should not be lost within the contemporary clamour of positivity.” While the likes of Jess and Mo on the track, Nicola in the ring and Louis on the pommel horse roused the nation, the low paid, mainly unskilled and temporary jobs London 2012 generated were disproportionately filled by the young ethnic minorities. Those with tickets in an Olympic Park&nbsp;at the epicentre of three of London’s most multicultural boroughs - Newham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney - were disproportionately white and therefore entirely unrepresentative of modern East London. This was the Home Counties Games, not London’s; white flight in reverse.</p><p>On the track, in the stands and in the park, the social divisions of modern Britain are as apparent as ever. Rushanara Ali, MP for the Bethnal Green and Bow constituency on the edge of the Olympic Park, described the post-Olympic mood amongst her constituents as one of ‘betrayal’. In place of employment and career opportunities created by the Olympics they were forced to endure amongst the highest jobless rates in the entire country, long-term adult unemployment rising by 26% in the year of London 2012, long-term youth unemployment rose by a staggering 55%. Rushanara quotes the Olympic mission, “London 2012 made us believe there is no limit to what we can achieve.” Of course, this is the magical appeal of the Games: its compelling narrative of those who succeed on the track, in the ring, pool and elsewhere. But too many from across the political spectrum and throughout the sporting and media establishment help perpetuate the cruel deception that either Team GB or London 2012’s success will have any kind of impact on the career and life chances for others. &nbsp;</p><p><strong>Union Jack Chic</strong></p><p>For one joyful&nbsp;summer we wrapped ourselves in Stella McCartney’s stylishly redesigned Team GB Union Jack. It is a beacon of hope when that flag is worn to celebrate athletes whatever their colour, faith or gender, Olympian or Paralympian. Team GB was more a symbol of modern Britain than those who sit on the benches of Parliament, the seats of company boardrooms or at the desks writing the editorials in the nation’s newspapers. That is something we can all recognise, and most feel at ease with, with some seeing it as symbolic of the Britain we want to become. For others however, it is just a temporary respite from the effort to reverse this process. Multiculturalism is then only acceptable if it adds some finishing speed, fighting muscle and flair on the ball to Team GB. This is not the case if it means more immigration, from more countries further afield, as who knows where next? A Polish food counter in our supermarkets, a mosque down the High Street or event the Russian billionaires that own our football clubs and newspapers. The racialisation of Britishness is a complex matter, and the observation that Britishness remains racialised is entirely different from claiming it is racist. Sport can help unpick that complexity, offering moments of great hope and profound change yet it cannot affect that change on its own.</p><p><strong>The United Colours of Britishness?</strong></p><p><span class='wysiwyg_imageupload image imgupl_floating_right 0'><a href="//" rel="lightbox[wysiwyg_imageupload_inline]" title=""><img src="//" alt="" title="" width="150" height="236" class="imagecache wysiwyg_imageupload 0 imagecache imagecache-article_large" style="" /></a> <span class='image_meta'></span></span>In the late 1980s writer Paul Gilroy wrote a superb book on race, popular culture and Britishness. He chose as his title, in a richly ironic manner, a favourite chant of the Far Right from the time,&nbsp;<em>There Ain’t No Black in the Union Jack</em>. Ben Carrington is one of a new generation of writers on race and Britishness. In his chapter in&nbsp;<a href="">London 2012 How Was It For Us</a> Ben &nbsp;revisits the impact of last summer's Games to provide a neat twenty-first century update of Paul Gilroy's book title.</p><p>“The waving of the Union Jack during the opening and closing ceremonies and the heroic feats of humanity performed in between, produced moments when it’s hard to imagine there being a scenario when there is not some black in the Union Jack. Whether sport provides the beginnings for a wider transformative politics will be determined in large part by the extent to which we can prevent the summer feats of 2012 eclipsing the summer flames of 2011 so as to better understand the socio-political connections between the two.”</p><p>What Ben is describing is the ability to make connections between the political and the popular, and the role sport has in that process of connectivity. Race, Britishness and sport - in the summer of 2012 this was an everyday conversation for millions yet there remains a political absenteeism of ideals and values that can provide any lasting substance out of these golden moments. A year later and UKIP is on a platform that is both against immigration and viciously attacks the values of multiculturalism; this is the political story of 2013.</p><p>The greatest book ever written on sport remains to be&nbsp;<em>Beyond a Boundary</em>&nbsp;written by CLR James, celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of its publication in 2013. James was writing about the vital need to make the kind of connections&nbsp;that Ben Carrington was also describing a lifetime later. “What do they know of cricket who only cricket knows.” The proposition is that sport can only be understood, and its enjoyment enriched, by appreciating its social and cultural context. Sport matters to debates on national identity, because for many of us sport more than anything else provides us with that identity.&nbsp;</p><p><strong>Next Stop Glasgow 2014</strong>&nbsp;</p><p>Which leaves us with a contradiction. Outside of the Olympics there is no Team GB. The great team sports of football and rugby fragmented Britain long ago, requiring none of the constitutional settlements the British state demands. And who apart from England will represent this United Kingdom&nbsp;at cricket against the Aussies all summer long? And in 2014 that separation will be further represented by Glasgow’s turn, as the Commonwealth Games take place. The timing couldn’t be neater with the Scottish independence referendum a matter of weeks later. When Hoy or Murray are winning Olympic Gold will it be the Scots or the Brits who care? But sport, as CLR James reminded us, isn’t disconnected. The flags we wave and the colours we wear represent something more than our support for the action on the track, in the pool, round the velodrome. This is the unique collision of an outdated Britishness; race, nation and independence. London 2012 can hardly claim to have settled the contradictions and conflicts, it is the task of remaking politics however to place connections and alliances at its core. This demands an understanding that it isn’t simply the case that a politics of sport exists, rather that for many, sport&nbsp;<em>is&nbsp;</em>politics.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><p><em>London 2012 How Was It For Us is published by&nbsp;<a href="">Lawrence &amp; Wishart</a>. Contributors include Mark Steel, Zoe Williams, Billy Bragg, Suzanne Moore, David Renton, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and others. Available as a pre-publication, exclusive Mark Steel signed edition, £2 off, just £12.99, and post-free from&nbsp;<a href="">here</a></em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/sunder-katwala/feeling-british-after-olympics">Feeling British after the Olympics</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/aaron-peters/olympic-britishness-and-crisis-of-identity">Olympic Britishness and the crisis of identity</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/samaranch-kissinger-and-coca-cola-company-relentless-fascist-s-curious-da">Samaranch, Kissinger and the Coca Cola company: a relentless fascist’s curious date with democracy</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-country"> <div class="field-label"> Country or region:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> UK </div> </div> </div> uk uk UK Olympics Mark Perryman Mon, 08 Jul 2013 09:32:44 +0000 Mark Perryman 73873 at After the Games: the good the bad and the Orbit <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="//" alt="" width="140" /></p> <p>With the Olympics over Mark Perryman reflects on the ups, downs and thereabouts. London 2012 has been internationally lauded as a success, but a better Games was possible and we should not allow the euphoria to obscure that critique.</p><p>&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="" alt="" width="100%" /></p><p>On Saturday I was at the Men&rsquo;s Hockey Bronze Medal Match. The organisation of the men&rsquo;s and women&rsquo;s hockey tournaments in lots of ways represents exactly what has been wrong with London 2012; not the scale of ambition, the lack of it. Every hockey match of a World Cup style group and knockout stages tournament was played in a single stadium. Centralisation suits only those with easy access to the Olympic Park while most games take place during the working day, further narrowing those who can take part.&nbsp;The stadium itself? Temporary stands, so no unwanted legacy issues, but the capacity was only 15,000. The alternative I have suggested was to base the hockey in a region well-served with sizeable football stadia. Reconfigure the stands, lay the astroturf over the grass, double, triple or even quadruple the capacity, run all the matches at the evening and weekends. Increase the numbers attending, reduce the ticket prices. A home Games for the many, not just the lucky few such as myself.</p> <p>My biggest reason to doubt the alternative I proposed in my recent book&nbsp;<em>Why The Olympics Aren&rsquo;t Good For Us And How They Can Be</em>&nbsp;has been provoked by witnessing the sheer maginificence of the Olympic Park. Britain has never seen anything like it, a mix of world-class facilities with Gold Medal winning performances across different sports taking place simultaneously. Centralisation certainly helped create the incredible atmosphere, a sense of being in a space where what is taking place all around you is historic. Which is very nice if you have a ticket, but if not then the &lsquo;home Games&rsquo; was something consumed largely from the sofa, via the remote. The emotional attachment is still there - in reality those who see great sporting moments live are always a tiny minority - but surely the ambition should be to maximise those numbers to the absolute limit. Decentralisation by definition means sacrificing the single sense of place for a multiplicity of spaces, creating a patchwork of experiences linked to the one event. Such a model would have transformed the Games, made it immeasurably more accessible and vastly increased the numbers able to take part. I remain convinced that such a People&rsquo;s Games would have been a better Games. How many of those who have enjoyed the past fortnight&rsquo;s sporting action via the TV would have loved to have been part of it themselves? Most, I suggest.</p> <p>The free-to-watch events were without exception hugely popular.&nbsp; According to most commentators this was testament to the Games&rsquo; success rather than a reason for questioning why more of the programme shouldn&rsquo;t be shifted in this direction, why the existing events were organised to reduce the potential numbers, during the working day, raced round one circuit a number of times instead of A-B style like the London Marathon with numbers lining the route the whole way.</p> <p>Perhaps the most unpredictable plus, unpredictable in the sense that you can never be sure who will win the medals, has been the <a href="" target="_blank">much increased prominence given to GB's women athletes</a>. We cannot be sure how long this rediscovered spirit of sports equality will last, sports culture is mired in masculinity but there at least exists the potential for some kind of change, for the better. This is more likely to be change of some substance if the Olympian fervour for almost all 26 of the programme&rsquo;s sports, or at least those in which GB won medals, serves to decentre football in our sporting culture. There are huge financial interests committed of course to preserving the absolute dominance of football but such a shift towards a more plural sports culture would be no bad thing. A game mired in the misbehaviour of the super-rich, with vastly inflated estimates of their ability when it comes to most of the England players, football is going to face some sort of challenge when it seeks to reassert its status as the &lsquo;national game.&rsquo; 2012 is already being talked of as a &lsquo;1966&rsquo; moment, if that proves to be the case then British sports culture will never again accord football the status it has enjoyed for so long. But for that to happen the Olympic sports will also have to be transformed in terms of access for a much broader section of the population. Football isn&rsquo;t popular simply by accident, it is a simple game with no expensive kit or facilities required and a professional base for those who have talent. Our most successful Olympic sport, cycling, has the greatest potential to grow in stature and mass appeal. Riding to work might just become a case of doing a Wiggo or a Trott. </p><p>The joyful crowds at Olympic Park didn&rsquo;t look anything like those joining in the celebrations in the surrounding boroughs of&nbsp; Newham, Tower Hamlets, and Hackney. This was perhaps London 2012&rsquo;s greatest failing yet scarcely commented upon in all the well-deserved coverage given to a broadly diverse podium of Team GB&nbsp; medal-winners. In terms of those privileged enough to have the tickets these were the Home Counties Games. Meanwhile, the jobs created were largely filled by a black urban working class on short term contracts; casual work and not well-paid either. A rather more uncomfortable picture of modern Britain emerges from this contrast, a picture crucial to understanding how finishing third in the medals table might impact on having the third lowest levels of physical activity in all of Europe. To transform that imbalance requires an understanding that all sports are socially conditioned, by race, gender and yes, class. Sport for all is only possible if framed by such an understanding.&nbsp;</p> <p>Yes, lets join in the celebrations - only the most one-dimensional version of progressive politics could fail to have been moved by these Games - but thats no reason to discard our critical faculties at the turnstiles either. I went to the Olympics as a fan, I remain a critic too. The two aren&rsquo;t mutually exclusive. And after its all over I remain convinced that a critical sports politics should have a vital place in any popular project for human liberation. For a Left that largely doesn&rsquo;t take sport seriously, or if it does concentrates any concern almost exclusively on football, perhaps this might become our legacy of London 2012? &nbsp;</p> <p>Mark Perryman is the author of 'Why The Olympics Aren&rsquo;t Good For Us And How They Can Be', &nbsp;&pound;8 (&pound;6 kindle edition) available exclusively from&nbsp;<a href=""></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;</p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> </div> </div> uk uk Culture Mark Perryman Tue, 14 Aug 2012 11:31:27 +0000 Mark Perryman 67544 at Will the success of Team GB's women prove to be a game changer? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p>One of the most positive outcomes of Team GB’s success has been the prominence of Women Athletes winning medals. Author of a new book on the Olympics Mark Perryman considers the likely long-term impact.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><img src="" alt="" width="100%" /></p><p>A world record crowd for a Women&rsquo;s Football match. Three more Team GB Golds, all won by women athletes. The first ever Women&rsquo;s boxing Gold, again won by a Team GB athlete. That was just yesterday, Thursday 9th August, at London 2012. For Team GB these Games have perhaps represented the single biggest challenge to the traditional masculine hegemony that to date has gripped British sporting culture.</p> <p>And its not just in the ring, on the pitch or round the track. In the BBC TV studio Clare Balding has for most been the stand out presenter, putting the more than occasional hapless amateurism of Gary Lineker, once he strays outside the comfort zone of football, to shame. In the Guardian, women sportswriters have enjoyed a prominence that was previously unheard of even in this paper - Marina Hyde, Anna Kessel and Emma John in particular - while prominent feminist columnists Zoe Williams and Suzanne Moore have contributed pieces echoing the approval of what the Games have come to represent.</p> <p>All this less than a year after the notorious BBC Sports Personality of the Year Award failed to feature a single sportswoman on the shortlist. To do that this December would be simply unthinkable.</p> <p>Of course inequalities still exist. No Olympic Woman football, basketball or cycling star will ever earn even a fraction of the money their male counterparts are paid. But the Olympics does broadly treat Women&rsquo;s versions of the medal sports on an equal basis with the male versions. Few, except the most embittered chauvinist, would treat Laura Trott and Victoria Pendelton&rsquo;s achievements in the velodrome as somehow inferior to Jason Kenny and Chris Hoy&rsquo;s. The Team GB women rowers were celebrated every bit as much as their male medal-winning counterparts, in fact arguably with even greater prominence. It is almost impossible to measure the magnitude of Jess Ennis&rsquo;s Heptathlon Gold versus Mo Farrar&rsquo;s 10,000m Gold. And while the most puerile sections of the media, and not a few men too, will sexualise the female athletes&rsquo; bodies in a degrading manner few male athletes will have to endure, this is no longer the dominant norm.</p> <p>Last night&rsquo;s Women&rsquo;s Gold Medal Football match at Wembley was a sparkling occasion. The previous world record crowd for a Women&rsquo;s Football match was 76,000; Wembley topped 80,000. The standard of play was for the most part superb, perhaps a tad less physical, a fraction slower than the Team GB's male contingent but this makes for a more skilful, passing game. The goals were of the highest quality, Hope Solo in the US goal putting on a world class performance to keep the Japanese women at bay. No. It's not the same as &lsquo;men&rsquo;s football&rsquo;, but then why should it be? These superbly gifted footballers aren&rsquo;t trying to play the men at the game blokes like to call their own, they&rsquo;re playing something different. With next to no dissent, the one solitary dive and a single yellow card, in many ways the game was better to watch. In the stands the passion was different; a much more joyful atmosphere than the one I&rsquo;ve become too used to watching England. No one standing up to block my view and refusing to budge, no foul and abusive language wrapped in hate for others in the name of passion, and most of all none of the drunken, threatening misogyny that too many have excused over the years as just what lads at football get away with.</p> <p>This has been a glorious two week break from the way sport has become perverted, particularly via football, a process excused by many, I include myself, in the cause of a supposed authenticity of our crowds&rsquo; passion. For that grip to be broken I propose one simple idea. Forget about bidding to host the men&rsquo;s World Cup. 2026 is the earliest now that tournament might come here. Bid now for England to host the Women&rsquo;s World Cup. The 2015 competition is in Canada so 2019 should be the target. This would send out the clearest possible message that our national game belongs every bit as much to women as men. Use the positive euphoria around our women athletes&rsquo; achievements across a whole range of Olympic sports to unravel the hitherto impregnable male bastion of football. Take that brick out of the wall and male hegemony in sport wold come crashing down, for the better. The FA has been scrabbling round for a sense of purpose ever since the Premier League took over the game and the national team proved incapable of getting past a quarter final, mired in the ever falling standard of behaviour of our players and clubs out of financial control. This would give football a mission, one fitting with a post-Olympics mood that would serve to align the conduct of male footballers with than of the Olympians who have graced our arenas this summer.&nbsp;</p> <p><em>Mark Perryman is the author of the <a href="">Why The Olympics Aren&rsquo;t Good For Us And How They Can Be</a>, &pound;8 (&pound;6 kindle edition)&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>&nbsp;</em></p> uk uk Mark Perryman Fri, 10 Aug 2012 11:28:03 +0000 Mark Perryman 67490 at Beyond the pitch, track and ring: a guide to Olympian reading <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="//" alt="" width="140" /></p> <p>With London 2012 drawing to a close, Mark Perryman rounds up the books which can help us to understand the long term significance of the Games.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p>In the mid-1980s, a strain of leftist writing emerged which took popular culture seriously - too seriously according to some critics, who preferred a more reductionist model of the old base-superstructure variety. These writers covered a wide variety of subjects that frame our everyday lives, but among them all, the argument that stood out was one of contestation. They made the case that, via the media, film, music, fashion, and more, ideas and ideologies were shaped, reinforced and crucially challenged.</p> <p>Sport was one of the subjects addressed in this way, with a small number of original thinkers accounting for its role beyond the pitch, track and ring. Garry Whannel&rsquo;s<em> &lsquo;Blowing the Whistle&rsquo;</em>, published in 1983, was one of the first to foreground a politics of sport. It picked out two key themes: firstly, the ways in which sport contributes to the way people see the world, especially via race, gender and extreme versions of nationalism; secondly, the role of health and fitness in human development.</p> <p>Applying some of these ideas to the Olympics a year later, ahead of the Los Angeles Games of 1984, Garry co-edited with Alan Tomlinson the collection <em>&lsquo;Five Ring Circus&rsquo;</em>. Ranging over issues of corporate power, the role of TV, sexism in Olympic sports, the cult of amateurism and more, this was a collection of its time, reflecting the emergence of a left that took culture seriously and rejected an instrumentalism that was dangerously close on occasion to framing a one-dimensional view of the world.</p> <p>Almost thirty years on, Marc Perelman&rsquo;s <em>'<a href="" target="_blank">Barbaric Sport</a>'</em> has little time for the kind of nuanced critique of sport that Whannel, Tomlinson and others helped pioneer on the British left. Instead, he describes the growth of global sport as a &lsquo;plague&rsquo;. Racism, drug abuse, and worse has helped create a pornographic hybrid he dubs &lsquo;sporn&rsquo;, all in the cause of decadence fuelled by competition, fame and elitism. The rhetorical flourishes are hard to fault, but the self-satisfaction of outright opposition to almost all versions of sport does tend towards an overbearing sense of moral and intellectual superiority at the expense of political engagement.</p> <p>Written anonymously by a former member of the Team GB Olympic Athlete Squad,<em>&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank">'The Secret Olympian'</a></em> is a book about the side of the Games the rest of us won't see. The pressure to reach the podium, life inside the training camp, the drug-testing regime, and Olympic Village affairs. It is a tale of dedication, but also of loneliness and pressure; this is no ghosted biography that tells us nothing - this book claims to tell it like it is. The insights are certainly revealing enough to suggest that, despite the wall-to-wall media coverage, the culture of elite sport remains largely under wraps to the rest of us.</p> <p>For an entirely different view of the potential of sport, read<em> <a href="" target="_blank">'Run Wild'</a></em> by Chumbawamba frontman Boff Whalley, a hugely impressive book by a first-time writer on the joyful freedom of running. Stripped down to its basics, running is the most simple of all sports, requiring next to no kit or facilities. Boff&rsquo;s book is a beautifully written account of what running wild, back to nature, can mean. However much we might enjoy the televised spectacle of gold medal winning performances, this is the form of the sport most of us will ever aspire to and, by capturing the democratic spirit of sport for all, this book reveals its liberatory potential too.</p> <p>The Olympic Park is, without doubt, a magnificent space of architectural excellence drawn to the purpose of sport - but what will it look like in five or ten years time? Anna Minton&rsquo;s<em> <a href="" target="_blank">'Ground Control'</a></em> puts the Park firmly in the context of spiralling CCTV networks, the privatisation of public space, shopping malls and gated housing which increasingly dominate contemporary urban living. Her analysis of the topography of legacy and regeneration is both wonderfully written and a telling response to the unthinking boosterism that is no preparation for future disappointment.&nbsp;</p> <p>So far, these Games have been largely free of drugs scandals, but the whiff of suspicion, rumour and samples that prove positive never seems so far away to be entirely discounted. Chris Cooper&rsquo;s<em> <a href="" target="_blank">'Run, Swim, Throw, Cheat'</a></em>&nbsp;provides, for the first time, an in-depth explanation of how drugs can improve sporting performances. How they are detected is explained but, perhaps most interestingly of all, this book provides an examination of the ethical issues, such as the potential impact of any future legalisation.</p><p><img src="" alt="" width="230" /></p> <p>For those who consider such a shift towards legality to be the antithesis of the meaning of sport, which is a contest founded on human physical endeavour and not the superority of the contents of one test tube over another, the perfect antidote is to be found in Adharanand Finn&rsquo;s superbly written<em> <a href="" target="_blank">'Running With the Kenyans'</a></em>. With Kenyan athletes so dominant in middle and long-distance running, what are the secrets of their athletes' success, and is it possible for others to adapt their training, diet, and lifestyle to improve their own fitness and running speed?</p> <p>Few have successfully used sport as the plotline for a novel. The real life drama of sport is so epic, as vividly portrayed by every day of London 2012, that fiction is hardly needed to add to the impact. However, with <em><a href="" target="_blank">'Gold'</a>,</em> Chris Cleave shows how a plot mixing emotion and intrigue - plus Olympic cycling - can produce a compelling and thrilling read. As good as the real thing? In this case, even better and well-deserving of the rave reviews, and no doubt bumper sales, the book is already attracting.</p> <p>Almost every day of London 2012 there has been a race, a result, a contest on water, around the track, in the ring or on the pitch, that has been a conversation starter in the home, at work, the bus stop or wherever. Some, no doubt many, begin and end with who won what and how. But plenty will also reveal themes of race, gender, class and national identity which connect with issues represented by sport. These books are evident, in their different ways, of how writers make those connections and enrich our enjoyment of sport as one of the most compelling, and vital, global spectacles of the modern era.</p> <p>Mark Perryman is the author of <a href="" target="_blank">Why The Olympics Aren&rsquo;t Good For Us And How They Can Be</a>.</p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/selina-ogrady/olympian-worship-cant-we-give-up-gigantism-of-it">Olympian worship - can&#039;t we give up the gigantism of it?</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/mark-perryman/day-at-london-olympics-positives-and-negatives">A day at the London Olympics: positives and negatives</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/mark-perryman/games-of-two-halves">A Games of two halves </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> </div> </div> uk uk Culture The Great British Summer? Mark Perryman Tue, 07 Aug 2012 23:13:50 +0000 Mark Perryman 67457 at A day at the London Olympics: positives and negatives <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="//" alt="" width="140" /></p> <p>Mark Perryman spent a day at the Olympic Park in East London and concludes that the Games are a good thing - but could be so much better.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This piece is part of our debate <a href="" target="_blank">'The Great British Summer?'</a>.</em></p><p>Over the past few days, I have lost count of the number of politicians decrying critics of the Olympics. The newly appointed &lsquo;Olympic Legacy Adviser&rsquo;, Tony Blair, has returned to one of his favourite themes: declaring war on cynicism. Boris Johnson joins the chorus of boasts that the Games proves London to be the world&rsquo;s greatest city and, in the press, Jonathan Freedland has been amongst those demanding that enthusiasm for the Games must trump any tendency towards critique.</p> <p>What none of these, and plenty of others, appear capable of recognising is that it is perfectly possible to be both a fan of the Olympics and a critic of them, too. When I passed through the Olympic Park turnstiles, I was both looking forward to the event we had tickets to see, but also entirely aware of the limitations of the Games model as insisted upon by the IOC and dutifully followed by Seb Coe and LOCOG.</p> <p><strong>Olympic Park Positives</strong></p> <p>Firstly, the Olympic Park itself is a magnificent jumble of world-class sporting facilities, with plenty of open space in-between. Quite what it will look like a few years after the Olympics are over, who knows - but right now it is something Britain has never seen before and is to be enjoyed.</p> <p>Secondly, the sport we went to watch, the Women&rsquo;s Water Polo, had attracted a near capacity crowd. This is especially notable when you consider most (including myself) had never paid to watch this sport before, let alone knew the rules. Yet we were transfixed at this fast, immensely skillful, and occasionally brutal sport. The crowd were enthusiastic, non-partisan, and clearly enjoying themselves as a part of the Games.</p><p><img src="" alt="" width="480" /></p> <p>Thirdly, inside the stadiums there are no adverts and no corporate branding at all - just the Olympian five rings and the London 2012 logo. The commercialisation stops once the sport begins; as such, why on earth do the IOC permit the Five Rings to become a logo for sponsors rather than a symbol of sport in every other available space?</p> <p><strong>Olympic Park Negatives</strong></p> <p>Firstly, there was the now notorious problem of the empty seats. The water polo arena was almost full - 90%, I would reckon - yet for the past week the London 2012 website has been displaying its 'sold out' notice. There were a few hundred empty seats, mainly in the National Olympic Committee, VIP and sponsor areas, plus some in the public sale areas. Clearly, this should have been anticipated, and an easy-to-operate returns arrangement made. However, the problem is systemic; the magnificence of the Olympic Park has been prioritised over decentralisation, which would allow the use of much larger venues. At a different venue, the water polo arena could have easily accommodated twice the number of seats, at much reduced prices. The unused VIP tickets are not a side issue, but the numbers who could have attended a home games, but couldn't, is key; the vision should have been maximum participation.</p> <p>Secondly, there is a significant disconnection with East London, the home of the Olympic Park.&nbsp;Fans arrive by underground and <a href="" target="_blank">Javelin train</a>, go straight into the Olympic Park to spend the day within its confines, leave via the new Westfield Shopping Centre, and are back on the train home. Overseas visitors are doing likewise - going straight from the park to their hotels, very few of which are in East London. Even though the Olympic Park is at the epicentre of three of Britain&rsquo;s most multicultural boroughs - Newham, Tower Hamlets and Hackney - it is full of those travelling in from the Home Counties; precious few locals are there. The Olympic Park is an expensive bubble, almost entirely divorced from the locality.</p> <p>Thirdly, there is the much-mentioned issue of security. The process of getting in is pretty basic - not much more than what anybody would be used to at any modern sporting event of any size. So quite why thousands of trained soldiers, still in their Afghanistan-issue camouflage, are in such an extensive security role isn&rsquo;t immediately obvious. Those I saw yesterday were from our elite fighting forces, the Paras and Commandos - is checking bags really what they&rsquo;re best equipped to be doing? Was it really so difficult to find those who could have done these jobs? It is a strange image for these Games to project: thousands of uniformed soldiers and heavily armed policemen filling the public areas - a scene that, for many, is anything but reassuring.</p><p><img src="" alt="" width="480" /></p> <p>I went away from the Olympic Park feeling privileged to have been there, and lucky to have applied in time to get a ticket. However, at the same time, feeling regret that a Games that so many more could have been part of wasn&rsquo;t what London 2012 ever became. It's a balance neither uncritical enthusiasm nor outright opposition accomodates but, after a day in the Olympic Park, I was more convinced than ever before that the Olympics are both a good thing, but could be so much better too.</p><p><em>Mark Perryman is the author of 'Why The Olympics Aren&rsquo;t Good For Us, And How They Can Be'. It costs &pound;8 (&pound;6 kindle edition) and is exclusively available from&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/philip-comerford/olympic-security-fence-is-modern-day-form-of-enclosure">The Olympic security fence is a modern day form of enclosure</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/david-renton/whose-games-whose-city-why-im-marching-with-counter-olympics-network">&#039;Whose Games? Whose city?&#039; - why I&#039;m marching with the Counter Olympics Network</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-olympic-fiasco-british-soldiers-are-people-pipeline-now">G4S Olympic fiasco: British soldiers are the ‘people pipeline’ now</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> </div> </div> uk uk Culture The Great British Summer? Mark Perryman Tue, 31 Jul 2012 15:08:01 +0000 Mark Perryman 67325 at A home Games - but for whom? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="//" alt="" width="140" /></p> <p>With the start of the London 2012 Games upon us, Mark Perryman questions the over-centralisation of the games and their 'Olympic mismanagement'.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This piece is part of our debate </em><a href="" target="_blank">'The Great British Summer?'</a><em>.</em></p><p>Just one click, and the Olympic tickets are mine. I&rsquo;ve plumped for a Bronze Medal men&rsquo;s hockey match, leaving me treacherously hoping Team GB will be battling it out for third place rather than going for Gold. I also have an early round of the water polo; quite an Olympian bargain at &pound;20 each for two adults while our three-year-old has a pay-your-age ticket, only &pound;3.</p> <p>So what could there possibly be to complain about? Plenty - take <a href="" target="_blank">Wednesday afternoon&rsquo;s opening game of the Olympic Women&rsquo;s Football: Great Britain versus New Zealand</a>, played in a half-empty Millennium Stadium, Cardiff. This is just another example of the spectacular mismanagement of the Olympics, ensuring that this is a Games for the few and not for the money. Never mind the idea of Team GB playing in Wales, where almost every football fan will be used to shouting for Wales &ndash; never England, and often not Great Britain either; these divisions run deeply in our fan culture, and a <a href="" target="_blank">smart new Union Jack kit</a> is not going to transform this overnight. Both the women&rsquo;s and men&rsquo;s football teams are effectively &lsquo;England&rsquo;, plus a handful of other home nations&rsquo; useful additions to the squad.</p> <p>So, the location wasn&rsquo;t ideal. Neither was the kick-off time. By choosing 4pm, this effectively means that anyone attending has to take at least the afternoon off work, if not the whole day, adding to the cost and the inconvenience for ticket-holders. The price was also less-than-ideal; for well-paid LOCOG executives, &pound;20 may seem reasonable for the lowest-price ticket, but it&rsquo;s not so cheap for a branch of football that has little or no record of attracting the kind of crowd to fill the Millennium&rsquo;s 75,000 seats. For goodness sake, the men&rsquo;s Welsh national team have struggled to fill the stadium on more than one occasion.</p><p><img src="" alt="" width="460" /></p> <p class="image-caption">The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff was only one-third full for Team GB's women's football team's opening game against New Zealand.&nbsp;</p><p>It is a fairly reliable law of marketing that to halve the price is to double the crowd. With an evening kick-off, &pound;10 for the cheapest ticket and, facing the reality of the squad selection, in an English football stadium, Wednesday afternoon might well have been a capacity crowd, giving tens of thousands more people the chance to be part of the 2012 Olympics.</p><p>A combination of regional games and high ticket sales for all matches would have turned the Olympics into a festival of sporting internationalism, rather than just a matter of how many gold medals Team GB can win.&nbsp;The challenge is to sell tickets, not just for the Team GB games, which have generally been popular, but for the other countries&rsquo; games too, which have not been so popular.&nbsp;The Olympic football tournaments, both the men&rsquo;s and the women&rsquo;s, are effectively mini-World Cups, with group stages and knock-out rounds - basing these tournaments in each region, with their own opening and closing ceremonies and free-to-watch warm-up games, could have contributed to the sense of the Olympics being an accessible national event, rather than just something happening in London. This is not without precendent; in 2005, the North-West of England successfully hosted the Women&rsquo;s European Football Championship; Blackpool, Blackburn, Warrington and Manchester all hosted matches.&nbsp;</p> <p>What about my tickets? The 16-team hockey tournament all played in one 15,000 capacity stadium within the Olympic Park, resulting in a squeezed programme, with some matches kicking off at eight thirty in the morning. The water polo tournament is also squeezed into the single Olympic Park pool, meaning that some games don&rsquo;t finish until quarter to eleven at night. This is crazy, and a consequence of the Olympic model of centralisation. As with the football tournaments, these group and knock-out stage contests could have been hosted in a city or a region, providing many more early evening and weekend games. This would be an Olympics that, in large part, would belong to Glasgow and Edinburgh, Cardiff and Swansea, Yorkshire, the Midlands, and the North-West and the North-East of England. Also resulting in a vast increase in the number of tickets and a massive reduction in prices, would this not be a better model for the Olympics?</p> <p>Before, this kind of programming madness could have been justified by television schedules, an attempt to reduce the risk of clashes. Not any more; with the aid of the famous red button, I&rsquo;ve lost count of how many <a href="" target="_blank">Olympic channels the BBC are promising</a> &ndash; I think twenty-four was the latest figure. With this problem neutralised, the bulk of the programme could easily have been shifted to weekday evenings and weekends, in order to maximise accessibility and create a Games for the many to go and watch in person. Instead, except for the lucky few (amongst whom I now number myself) it will be the sofa and the remote.</p> <p>A year ago, <a href="" target="_blank">22 million people applied for tickets</a>; the demand was there. A relatively small country with the basis of a half-decent transport infrastructure could have facilitated the idea that what makes a &lsquo;home&rsquo; Games so special is the provision of a format which maximises the numbers taking part.</p><p> As the Games begin &ndash; for those like me who love their sport &ndash; it will be a feast. However, this is no reason not to imagine how much better they could have been. After all, for most of us, we won&rsquo;t see it again on these shores in our lifetimes.</p><p><em>Mark Perryman is the author of 'Why The Olympics Aren't Good For Us, And How They Can Be', available from&nbsp;</em><a href="" target="_blank"></a>.</p><p><img class="image-right" src="" alt="" width="250" /></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/david-renton/whose-games-whose-city-why-im-marching-with-counter-olympics-network">&#039;Whose Games? Whose city?&#039; - why I&#039;m marching with the Counter Olympics Network</a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/ourkingdom/mark-perryman/games-of-two-halves">A Games of two halves </a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/jules-boykoff/five-new-rings-review-of-mark-perrymans-why-olympics-arent-good-for-us-and-">Five New Rings: A Review of Mark Perryman&#039;s &#039;Why the Olympics Aren&#039;t Good For Us, and How They Can Be&#039;</a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> </div> </div> uk uk Culture Mark Perryman Fri, 27 Jul 2012 03:09:01 +0000 Mark Perryman 67273 at A ring of steel for the five rings <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img style="float: right;" src="" alt="" width="170" /></p><p>The London 2012 security mess isn’t just about staff shortages. Mark Perryman asks just who the abundant precautions are there to protect.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p class="p1"><img src="" alt="" width="100%" /></p><p class="p1">Munich &lsquo;72 will always remain one of the most iconic of Olympic Games. Not so much for Olga Korbut&rsquo;s impish performance in the Gymnastics or the Gold Medal haul of Mark Spitz in the pool but the lethal carnage resulting from the Israeli athletes being taken hostage by the Palestinian Black September group.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2">In Gaza and the West Bank immense problems remain, the murderous consequences of the Israel-Palestine conflict only too obvious. Yet in all the commentary on the security threat to the London Games scarcely anyone has observed that in 2012 Palestine competes as a nation-state at the Olympics, under its own national flag; this the result of a <em>political</em> settlement that would have been unimaginable 40 years ago.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">Of course the Games' organisers cannot afford to wait for a political settlement to the cause that frames the terror threat they identify as facing London 2012 (the fallout from the Iraq war and the continuing occupation of Afghanistan). But recognising there is a motivation behind these acts of violence should at least be the starting point for understanding the securitisation of the Olympics.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2">It would be reckless to dismiss the bloody horrors that would be the result of any kind of attack on the Games. But security is also about where you choose to draw the line between crowd safety and human liberty. Three examples show how badly London has got it wrong.</p> <p class="p2">First, the Lea Valley Towpath which runs alongside the edge of the Olympic Park. Already the park is enclosed by a sky high fence, topped by razor wires and electronic sensors, with CCTV every few metres and security patrols inside the fence: all to protect the Park from intruders. The towpath was closed to public access 23 days before the Olympics even began - a trend visible across London's Olympic venues.&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2">Second, on the list of banned objects which cannot be taken into the Olympic Park is &lsquo;the flag of any country not competing in the Games&rsquo;. This is aimed specifically at Free Tibet demonstrators. Tibet is a country not represented at 2012: what possible harm could arise from someone waving Tibet&rsquo;s flag as a peaceful protest? Isn&rsquo;t this at the heart of freedom of speech?&nbsp;</p> <p class="p2">Third, the experience of previous events. I have been lucky enough to have been to the last four World Cups. None of this very public mobilisation of the host nation&rsquo;s armed forces took place, no obvious presence of missiles, warships, aircraft on standby, troops on the streets. There is something about the martial and imperial tradition that seems to insist that in GB we must parade our military hardware for all to see and believe this will somehow act as reassurance rather than leave people asking, why?</p><p class="p2"><img src="" alt="" width="300" height="250" /></p> <p class="p2">The security risk cannot be entirely discounted. But the overwhelming effort of all those employed to guard the Games has nothing to do with terrorism. They are there to prevent any sort of protest and to defend the interests of the sponsors. Another item on the banned list of products to take into any Olympic venue is an &lsquo;excessive amount of food.&rsquo; If fans are peckish it's not an extra round of cheese and pickle sandwiches the organisers want them tucking into but a Big Mac and all the other officially approved products. &nbsp;</p> <p class="p2">And when the private sector provider couldn't supply the ever-escalating numbers of staff to frisk fans for their home-made sardines or the wrong brand of fizzy drink to the rescue came the public sector in the shape of the armed services, many recently returned from Afghanistan. Overnight&nbsp; &lsquo;Help for Heroes&rsquo; has turned into cheap labour to protect not you and me, but Mcdonald&rsquo;s, Coca Cola, Heineken and the rest.&nbsp;</p><p class="p2"><em>Mark Perryman is the author of the newly published <a href="" target="_blank">Why The Olympics Aren&rsquo;t Good For Us And How They Can Be</a> (&pound;8, &pound;6 kindle edition)&nbsp;</em></p><fieldset class="fieldgroup group-sideboxs"><legend>Sideboxes</legend><div class="field field-related-stories"> <div class="field-label">Related stories:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/vron-ware/is-army-invading-british-civil-society">Is the army invading British civil society? </a> </div> <div class="field-item even"> <a href="/shinealight/clare-sambrook/g4s-olympic-fiasco-british-soldiers-are-people-pipeline-now">G4S Olympic fiasco: British soldiers are the ‘people pipeline’ now</a> </div> <div class="field-item odd"> <a href="/ourkingdom/agent-monstris/protest-is-dangerous-again-space-hijackers-take-on-london-2012">&#039;Protest is dangerous again&#039;: the space hijackers take on London 2012 </a> </div> </div> </div> </fieldset> <div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> </div> </div> uk uk Culture Sochi: sport and security Mark Perryman Thu, 19 Jul 2012 14:43:08 +0000 Mark Perryman 67118 at A Games of two halves <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="//" alt="" width="140" /></p> <p>With his book offering a blueprint for a better Olympics, published this week, author Mark Perryman explains his Five New Rings.</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This piece is part of our debate <a href="" target="_blank">'The Great British Summer?'</a>.</em></p><p><img src="" alt="" width="180" /></p><p>Seb Coe and the London Olympics Organising Committee; Cameron and his hapless Minister of Culture, Jeremy Hunt; their predecessors, Brown, Blair and Tessa Jowell. All of them cling to a bipartisan consensus that everything to do with the Olympics is fine. No demand from the International Committee or their sponsors needs to be questioned. It was a consensus which also, in London, managed to unite those otherwise polar opposites, Boris and Ken, in solid agreement that the Olympics would be, without doubt, a good thing for the city. Meanwhile&nbsp;the sports media - led by the BBC, appears to have had all critical faculties surgically removed for the cause of Olympic cheerleading - to amplify this all-embracing mood of agreement.</p><p>Yet the discontent outside the parliamentary and media bubble is very obvious. This is not an organised campaign of resistance&nbsp;but, on issues ranging from the lack of tickets to the privileges enjoyed by the IOC and sponsors, there is a mood of discontent. More broadly, there exists a deep-seated and popular cynicism that the Games won&rsquo;t be the benefit that they are claimed to be. It is a discontent that is barely reported upon, yet its bias is well-founded. There is scarcely a scrap of evidence from any previous Games that they will lead to economic regeneration or a sustainable boost in employment. Not one recent Olympic host nation can point to an increase in sport participation levels as a result of the Olympics. As for tourism, the Olympics lead to a decrease in visitors, not an increase; the travel industry, which has no reason at all not to be one of the Games&rsquo; biggest supporters, has repeatedly pointed this out.&nbsp;</p> <p>Despite all of this, not one politician, nor a single sports administrator, none of the well-resourced think-tanks, and no journalist or broadcaster, has come up with a&nbsp;plan for a better Olympics for all. This is what my book &lsquo;Why The Olympics Aren&rsquo;t Good For Us, And How They Can Be&rsquo; uniquely sets out to do. If a popular left politics is to mean anything, surely it is not just about pointing out the inadequacies of what we are against, but constructing in our imaginations what an alternative might look like. A Games of two halves: critique, and vision.</p> <p>I love sport; my book is not in any sense anti-Olympics, and I joyfully admit I will be amongst the first to be consumed by the excitement of the Games once they begin. However, I also firmly believe that they could have been so much better. The discontent with how they have been organised, and the effective exclusion of the many people that could so easily have been part of them, is far too important to ignore &ndash; even if gold medals are hung around the necks of Team GB athletes.</p> <p>My &lsquo;New Five Rings&rsquo; are really quite simple. They are founded on a core democratic principle &ndash; the objective must be to enable the maximum number of people to take part; only this will make a &lsquo;home&rsquo; games worthwhile. If not, then it&rsquo;s the remote control and the sofa for most of us, and thus the Games might as well be anywhere else but here, minus both the expense and the inconvenience.</p> <p><strong>Ring One, a decentralised Games;</strong>&nbsp;events taking place all over the country, a local Games for large parts of the population. If such a structure is good enough for the World Cup, why not for the Olympics? This one change would, at least, make major parts of the Olympic programme geographically accessible.</p> <p><strong>Ring Two, a Games with the objective of maximum participation</strong>. Across the country we have huge stadiums and, although these are mainly football grounds, they are capable of being used for a vast range of Olympic sports. Yet virtually none are being utilised: all events are centralised in London venues which have much smaller capacities than would otherwise be available, slashing the size of the audience who can attend and increasing the ticket price for the few, instead of lowering those prices for the many.&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Ring Three, shift the bulk of the programme outside of stadiums entirely for large-scale free-to-watch events</strong>. A cycling Tour of Britain, a&nbsp;Round Britain yachting race, a canoe marathon, open-water swimming events in our lakes and lochs. The true measure of London&rsquo;s chronic lack of ambition is the scrapping of the marathon route, one of the few current free-to-watch Olympic events. The 26.2 London marathon route, which is lined each year with hundreds of thousands of spectators, has been&nbsp; replaced by 4 six mile laps, reducing the potential audience by 75% - yet this has scarcely been commented upon by media commentators, too busy with their LOCOG cheerleading.</p> <p><strong>Ring Four, Olympic sports that are universally accessible.</strong>&nbsp;The same countries always win the equestrian, yachting and rowing events, while entire continents have never won a single medal in these events. The same goes for cycling, fencing, the modern pentathlon and large parts of the whole programme. These are sports that require vast investment, specialist facilities and, except cycling, have next to no mass appeal.&nbsp; Compare the breadth of countries which have won boxing, football, and middle- and long-distance running medals - these are sports requiring no expensive kit or facilities,&nbsp;that use simple rules,&nbsp;and have massive appeal.&nbsp;Sports should be chosen because of their accessibility, and then given targets to prove it; if they fail to do so, they should be dropped and replaced with others.&nbsp; My favourite candidate for reintroduction is the tug-of-war, which last featured at the 1920 Games. It is one of the most basic sports imaginable; all that is required is a length of sturdy rope. Additionally, the teams could be mixed gender and, in a packed stadium, a tug-of-war competition is a potential crowd pleaser - at least as much, if not more, than some of the privileged sports currently enjoying Olympic status.</p> <p><strong>Ring Five, a symbol of sport - not a logo for the sponsor</strong><strong>s.</strong> Reverse the priorities: the only use permitted for the precious Olympic Five Rings should be by voluntary and community groups, on a not-for-profit basis, to promote sport; the sponsors should be banned from any use of the Five Rings. The people need sport just as sport needs their millions, yet sport, over and over again, sells itself short by bending over backwards to accommodate the sponsors&rsquo; ever-escalating demands. The biggest sponsor of London 2012? You and me, the taxpayer.</p> <p>In his excellent <a href="" target="_blank">review of the book for openDemocracy</a>, Jules Boykoff raises an important point. What kind of global collective movement might be imagined to challenge the IOC and to effect anything like the changes I propose? The IOC has constructed a bidding system where the only apparent choice is for cities to compete against each other, and only on the IOC&rsquo;s terms. Thus, the 2016 host, Rio de Janeiro, is already locked into the pre-existing model and by 2014, the 2020 host (currently shortlisted are Tokyo, Madrid and Istanbul) will be likewise locked in. Yet, in my view, London still offers a window to challenge the orthodoxy. Austerity and the recession are forcing perhaps an unprecedented spotlight on the claims made for the Games and, at the same time, the issue of who gets to be part of the Games will be more sharply posed than before. If the outcome of London 2012 is thanks, but not as much thanks, as Coe, LOCOG and the IOC would expect for their efforts, then the possibilities of a collective challenge may begin to emerge. However, the starting point has to be more than just critique; it requires an alternative too - a politics, if you like, of two halves. &nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>As the Olympics have grown, the Games have come to represent far more than just sport. For some critics, that means they wish to demolish everything they now stand for. Not me; I want to build a new Olympics, to take the best of the Games I first fell in love with (and have the sticker albums to prove it) and reimagine, with the help of principles founded on equality, diversity and access. This should surely be the substance of politics; we should be asking why, then, has no such alternative, to date, been offered? &lsquo;Why The Olympics Aren&rsquo;t Good For Us&rsquo; looks to redress that balance. Let the debate begin.</p><p><em>Published this week, Why The Olympics Aren&rsquo;t Good For Us, And How They Can Be costs &pound;8 (&pound;6 kindle edition) and is exclusively available from&nbsp;<a href="" target="_blank"></a>&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</em></p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Equality </div> </div> </div> uk uk Culture Equality The Great British Summer? Mark Perryman Fri, 13 Jul 2012 09:55:59 +0000 Mark Perryman 66978 at Keeping the flags flying <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="//" alt="" width="140" /></p> <p>With England out of Euro 2012 on penalties, the flag-waving build up for the Olympics begins in earnest. Mark Perryman explores the changing shape of sports nationalism, and internationalism.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span>This piece is part of our debate </span><a href="" target="_blank">'The Great British Summer?'</a><span>.</span></p><p><span>David Hemery burning his way round the track to victory in the 400m hurdles, Mexico 1968. Mary Peters defying gravity as she hauled her frame over the high jump bar to lift the pentathlon Gold in Munich, 1972. David Wilkie winning in the pool, Montreal 1976. Coe and Ovett enjoying 1500m and 800m glory, Moscow 1980. Decathlete Daley Thompson acting the golden cheeky chappy, Los Angeles 1984. Great Britain beating Germany in the men&rsquo;s hockey final, Seoul 1988. Christie and Gunnell triumphant on the track, at Barcelona 1992. Steve Redgrave promising he&rsquo;d never be seen near a boat again after winning his fourth straight Gold with Matthew Pinsent at Atlanta 1996, before doing precisely that to win his fifth and final Gold, once more with Pinsent, at Sydney 2000. Kelly Holmes grabbing an eye-popping 800m and 1500m golden double against all the odds in 2004. Hoy, Pendleton, Adlington and Ohuruogu leading Team GB&rsquo;s Gold medal charge to fourth in the Beijing 2008 Medals Table.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>From a late sixties childhood to twenty-first century fiftysomething, I can measure my life out in the glow of the quadrennial summer Olympics, with each and every Games remembered for the achievements of others, as well as our own. 1968 for Bob Beamon&rsquo;s leap beyond the limits of human capacity in the long jump. 1972, the impish Olga Korbut tilting her head at the close of her floor routine in the gymnastics hall. Cuban Teofilo Stevenson supreme in the Olympic boxing ring, winning three consecutive Golds, in 1972, 1976 and 1980 - an amateur heavyweight boxer who never turned professional despite the millions of dollars offered to him by US promoters. And so it goes on.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Having just returned from Euro 2012, I can report that this co-existence of sport nationalism and internationalism persists and, with a home Olympics due to begin in less than four weeks, is likely to dominate this summer of sport. The cosy assumption of some leftists that nationalism and internationalism are polar opposites was largely subverted in the past two-and-bit weeks out in the Ukraine and Poland - as it has been at every World Cup and European Championship that I&rsquo;ve been lucky enough to follow England to since Euro &rsquo;96. At these tournaments, some of the nastiest versions of nationalism share space with the most popular forms of internationalism. Never mind the single European currency - for the duration of the Euros it is football, not a bank note, that unites Europe and, too, divides us for ninety minutes.</span></p><p class="MsoNormal"><span><img src="" alt="" width="250" /></span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>In his classic work on the origin and spread of nationalism, &lsquo;Imagined Communities&rsquo;, Benedict Anderson pinpointed the persistence of the nationalist impulse, notwithstanding the counterclaims of the hyper-globalisers: &ldquo;Almost every year the United Nations admits new members. And many &lsquo;old nations&rsquo;, once thought fully consolidated, find themselves challenged by &lsquo;sub-nationalisms&rsquo; which, naturally, dream of shedding this sub-ness one happy day. The reality is quite plain: the &lsquo;end of the era of nationalism,&rsquo; so long prophesied, is not remotely in sight. Indeed, nation-ness is the most universally legitimate value in the political life of our time.&rdquo;</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>The 2012 London Olympics will take place on the cusp of this persistent irritant. England have just competed at Euro 2012, the only non-nation state to do so. Should the micro-states of Montenegro, Liechtenstein or Andorra ever qualify for a tournament they will have more of a right to call themselves a country than England - with no anthem, parliament, currency or head of state to call our own. The enthusiasm for the England football team might not be what it once was, but it most certainly is for England and is not to be confused with Britain, Great Britain, the United Kingdom, or any of the other labels that confuse both foreigners and ourselves.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span>Writer on &lsquo;Britishness&rsquo;, Arthur Aughey, has a benign view of this situation: &ldquo;Britishness involved an idea of the people and of its identity rather different from that of nationalism.&rdquo; However, this is less convincing with Scotland on the brink of an independence referendum, and with the undeniable renewed popularity of the St. George flag in England every other summer since Euro &rsquo;96 (except Euro &rsquo;08 for which we failed to qualify), whereas before its presence was nearly non-existent. Add to this the English sport successes of winning the Ashes in 2005, 2009 and 2011, and the Rugby World Cup in 2003 as England too. Eric Hobsbawn&rsquo;s observation &ldquo;the imagined community of millions seems more real as a team of eleven named people&rdquo; is peculiarly appropriate to England, particularly since the beginnings of the devolution settlement in 1997 and now, we have the new dynamic of First Minister Salmond seeking to lead Scotland out of the Union within the next two years. Whether we like it or not, 2012 - with both the Diamond Jubilee and the London Olympics - will be the year of the Union Jack, stylishly redesigned for the Team GB kit by Stella McCartney. But whether this is a temporary respite from the seemingly irreversible drift to a disunited Union, or a more profound revival of &lsquo;Britishness,&rsquo; remains to be seen.</span></p> <p class="MsoNormal"><strong><span>Mark Perryman is the author of the newly-published <a href="" target="_blank">&lsquo;Why The Olympics Aren&rsquo;t Good For Us, And How They Can Be&rsquo;</a>.</span></strong></p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> International politics </div> </div> </div> uk uk Culture International politics The Great British Summer? Mark Perryman Thu, 28 Jun 2012 12:39:28 +0000 Mark Perryman 66723 at London's Calling: 'fan zones' and corporate space at Euro 2012 <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="//" alt="" width="140" /></p> <p>Euro 2012, Le Tour and the London Olympics. Each reveal differing ways in which sport is controlled and consumed. Mark Perryman reports from the Ukraine on how vested interests are threatening the authentic participation of athletes and supporters alike.<strong>&nbsp;</strong></p> </div> </div> </div> <p><span>This piece is part of our debate </span><a href="" target="_blank">'The Great British Summer?'</a><span>.</span></p><p>This summer, the London Olympics are preceded by Euro 2012. The International Olympics Committee (IOC) and the European governing body for football, UEFA, follow a near identical agenda, and one with far reaching consequences for the public experience of sport. Along with football&rsquo;s global governing body, FIFA, these bodies share a strategy that has commodified the game, basing its organisation on a corporate model that undermines the love of participation. But the implications of this are relevant further afield, and the question begs: what precedents are being set in the lead-up to the Olympics?</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Firstly, the so-called &lsquo;Fan Zones&rsquo;, introduced at the 2006 World Cup, and which have been a feature of World Cups and European Championships ever since. These huge privatised spaces are all about control and commerce. Whatever the host country, the space is more or less the same - the only sustenance available is fast food, soft drinks, and beer provided by the authorised sponsors, while the chances of sampling some local fare are next to nothing. Every available space is occupied by the sponsors&rsquo; branding. Of course, this is what some fans seek - a secure and safe environment to watch the matches in large numbers alongside those following the same country. Those who shun these spaces don&rsquo;t have any kind of explicitly political agenda; rather, they prefer to have a look around, do the tourist trail, or, even better, get beyond it - try the local eating places, the pubs and cafes to take in a game, with, best of all, a barely comprehensible commentary. Unpoliticised it may be, but this do-it-yourself fandom is the antithesis of the corporatisation of sport.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Secondly, in a classic, if subtle, manoeuvre of control, the stadium&rsquo;s PA system is pumped up to such a volume you can&rsquo;t hear yourself think, let alone shout, cheer or jeer. For more than an hour ahead of kick-off, we are drowned out by these over-amplified antics, imploring us to &lsquo;make some noise&rsquo; - something no group of England fans who have made it out here needs to be told to do. Meanwhile, the babel of the announcer and backing track continues until kick-off, before reappearing in overdrive once a goal is scored: &lsquo;GOAAAAAAAAAAAL!&rsquo;. Against this alienating backdrop, the passionate, communal roar of the fans remains inextinguishable.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">In contrast, a third major event of this sporting summer provides the basis of an alternative sporting model which is outside of the complete control of the sponsors. The Tour de France will be followed more closely than ever before in Britain following last year&rsquo;s success of Mark Cavendish winning the Green Jersey, and this year&rsquo;s presence of Bradley Wiggins, who is a serious British contender for the coveted Yellow Jersey. As the competitors race along the public roads of France and its neighbouring countries for almost a month, the crowds on the route will be huge &ndash; and not one person will pay for a ticket. Strung out over tens of kilometres each day, and hundreds across the duration of the race, this is a crowd impossible to control - entirely unticketed, yet respectful and law-abiding. Although there is still heavy sponsorship, the Tour de France has a notable focus on public participation.</p><p class="MsoNormal"><img src="" alt="" width="300" height="250" /></p> <p class="MsoNormal">Sport matters because it is a space where these kinds of contests are played out, with an ever-changing pattern of shifts and balances. The disorganised resistance that the corporatisation of Euro 2012 provokes is emblematic of a broader discontent with the direction in which the London Olympics is heading. Not much of this takes any kind of formal political shape; the bipartisan parliamentary consensus that London 2012 is unquestionably a good thing accounts, in part, for this. A similar consensus existed between Boris and Ken in the recent London Mayoral election. Beyond Parliament, there are just a few fragments of an outside left that shows much interest in the politics of sport. The smallish oppositional movements that do exist tend to denounce the entire idea of the Olympics, seeking to stop the Games rather than seeking to change them for the better.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Olympic Games which had taken Le Tour as its inspiration might have added to the Marathon, Race Walks and Triathlon, as the only three unticketed events in the current programme. But how about a multi-stage cycling race for the length of the Games? Yachting round Britain for the benefit of coastal locations? A canoe marathon to follow from the riverbanks? If such crowds can be accommodated for the Diamond Jubilee, and for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race, why not for the Olympics?</p> <p class="MsoNormal">None of this necessarily undermines the budgetary ambitions of the project. These are events that would require virtually no expensive new facilities, and the crowds, if the Olympic Torch Relay is any indicator, would have been enormous. In terms of profits, live crowds are surely more likely to be disposed to purchase merchandise than those watching on TV. As for the supposedly inspirational effects of the Olympics on viewers in inducing them to take up sport, there is next to no evidence that watching sport from the comfort of your own sofa does any such thing &ndash; it is the emotional attachment, from being there and from being part of it, that has a chance of igniting this much-fabled legacy of participation.</p> <p class="MsoNormal">Of course, any such re-imagining is too late for London 2012. But as the self-congratulatory hoopla takes over for what will undoubtedly be a euphoric two weeks, a critical perspective can show how this once-in-a-lifetime event could have been so much better, cost less to put on, and been mostly free to watch. Who&rsquo;s going to argue with that?</p><p class="MsoNormal"><span>Mark Perryman is the author of &lsquo;<a href="">Why The Olympics Aren&rsquo;t Good For Us, And How they Can Be</a>&rsquo; </span></p><div class="field field-topics"> <div class="field-label">Topics:&nbsp;</div> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> Culture </div> <div class="field-item even"> Ideas </div> </div> </div> uk uk Culture Ideas The Great British Summer? Mark Perryman Fri, 22 Jun 2012 10:55:29 +0000 Mark Perryman 66549 at Tickets, anybody got tickets? <div class="field field-summary"> <div class="field-items"> <div class="field-item odd"> <p><img src="//" alt="" width="140" /></p> <p>The claim that the 2012 Games are a 'once in a lifetime' opportunity for the UK is diminished by London-centrism and a shortage of tickets. Mark Perryman outlines how this could have been avoided and alternative preperations made, more condusive to the democratic potential of the Olympics.&nbsp;</p> </div> </div> </div> <p><em>This piece is part of our debate <a href="" target="_blank">'The Great British Summer?'</a>.</em></p><p><em>London 2012 is a once-in-a-lifetime event. So why, asks Mark Perryman, have so few of us got tickets?</em></p> <p>With the Jubilee over - and short of England proving the surprise package at Euro 2012 - the 50-day countdown to London 2012 is set to go into overdrive.</p> <p>Right <img class="image-right" src="" alt="" width="250" />from the days of the bidding competition back in 2005, hosting a &lsquo;home&rsquo; Olympics has been sold to the British public as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. This is no idle boast. Along with football&rsquo;s World Cup (2026 being the next year England has a chance to host) the Olympics is undoubtedly the biggest show on earth. Spread across 26 different sports and with over 200 countries competing, its reach and appeal is enormous.</p><p>Does size matter? Yes. An event in which millions can take part can be genuinely transformative. Sport at its best can generate this collective, community spirit - and while sometimes revolving around an attitude of us vs. them, it is mostly the joy and exuberance of participation that mobilises the sporting spirit.</p> <p>The 2012 Games claim huge ticket sales, yet a cursory examination of sales per event across the entire programme reveals a startling lack of ambition and purpose. Modelled differently, these Games could have involved a far greater range of people than those now lucky enough to have tickets.</p> <p>The core organising principle of the Olympics should be for the maximum number of people to take part. Without that vision London 2012 might as well be taking place in another country for all the impact it will have - and none of the costs. A Games which is being presented as the greatest show Britain has ever hosted is actually stunningly unambitious. With a spread of 26 sports the possibilities for using the largest range of possible venues has been entirely rejected in favour of a centralized model.</p> <p>Take hockey as an example. This will be played as a mini-World Cup in one 15,000 capacity stadium within the Olympic Park. This could have been played across the West Midlands. Stadiums there include two in Birmingham and one each in Wolverhampton, Coventry and Sandwell. All of these are considerably larger than the special one built in Stratford. Earmarked at the start of the process as the Hockey host, the Team GB squad could have been based in the region, combining their training and preparation with outreach work in schools and communities to promote the sport. A civic pride could have been generated around hosting this part of the Olympic programme, with a localised opening ceremony for all the nations taking part in the Hockey Tournament. Why does London get the Opening Ceremony as well as all the rest of the Games too?</p> <p>Or the boxing. Manchester would have been a good host. When Ricky Hatton fought his biggest fights in front of the largest audiences it was at Manchester City&rsquo;s Etihad Stadium in front of a crowd of over 40,000; again much bigger than the numbers which will get tickets to the Olympic boxing finals. The city could also have combined the Etihad Stadium with Old Trafford, capacity 75,000 and the MEN arena for earlier rounds.</p> <p>Volleyball? Yorkshire boasts large stadia in Leeds, two in Sheffield, as well as Bradford, Huddersfield, Hull, and Doncaster. A regional host for this sport makes good sense and increases the numbers who can watch. With a modest degree of reconfiguration, and specially designed surfaces to lay on top of the football pitch in these stadiums, the possibility for an entirely different model of the Olympics is clearly evident.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>The one part of the programme which <em>has</em> been organised in this fashion has been the football, and it hasn&rsquo;t attracted the demand of tickets I am suggesting a different model of the games would generate. That&rsquo;s for three reasons. Firstly the Olympic football tournament is regarded in GB as less than third rate in comparison with the World Cup or European Championships. Secondly, it is so obviously a sop to Scotland, Wales and the regions that this is the one bit&nbsp; of the Games they can have. Thirdly, a regional base, in the model of the 2005 Women&rsquo;s European Football Championships, would have been far more likely to create a popular connection to the Olympic Football tournament.</p> <p>What is being&nbsp; described here is the Olympics as a tool of civic mobilisation on a grand scale. Cities and regions awarded a part of the Games, using largely existing facilities reconfigured for alternative use. The sport and its host city or region working together to develop participation and support over a long period, tickets made available at the lowest possible price with many free for schools. A real local investment in the Olympics, primarily physical and emotional rather than financial.</p> <p>Does any of this matter? Yes, because surely any democratic project for sport should be sport for all. The London 2012 model actively prevents this. The tickets are for the lucky few, the TV remote control for the rest of us. A project to decentralise, choose the largest possible venues, connect cities and regions to those parts of the Olympic programme they are hosting and those countries they would be hosting, would have been an entirely different venture: one worth hosting.</p> <p>Mark Perryman is the author of <em>Why The Olympics aren&rsquo;t Good For Us, And How They Can Be</em>, available at a 15% pre-publication discount from <a href="" target="_blank"></a></p> uk uk The Great British Summer? Mark Perryman Thu, 07 Jun 2012 12:04:15 +0000 Mark Perryman 66263 at