8 July 2021
In the last week we have been introduced to the phrase ‘deep woke’.
It was used by my Financial Times colleague Gideon Rachman as an expression to describe the governing party’s disdain to this welcome and inclusive article by Gareth Southgate.
A deep wookie.
Southgate’s articulation of solidarity is everything that the facile populist nationalism of the current government and its supporters is not.
No wonder they have a phrase to deride it.
The practical approach of Southgate was set out in this detailed and insightful piece at The Athletic site (which is strongly recommended for its journalism-led content – and so subscribe to it rather than complaining about the paywall):
From cliques and club-v-country tensions of the bad old days to the togetherness of a squad who have learned to love playing for their country.
How England borrowed from history, rugby union and Maori culture to create a new identity and team culture #ENG https://t.co/YTMcULcnIb
— Oliver Kay (@OliverKay) July 6, 2021
Reading Kay’s account of organisational change and inclusive solidarity, I was struck by its potential implications in respect of constitutionalism and political behaviour.
There is something in the piece that is (at least to me) comparable to the loss of a culture of constitutionalism within the UK polity
— davidallengreen (@davidallengreen) July 6, 2021
One of the problems in the current politics of the United Kingdom is the hyper-partisan disregard for constitutional principles and practices that mean politicians of different views can work together.
The prime minister Boris Johnson and his former assistant Dominic Cummings, and their supporters, have promoted the weaponisation of constitutional matters – from misleading the Queen to attacking the judiciary and ignoring the house of commons.
In these toxic Bannon-ite circumstances, the solution is not a written (that is, codified) constitution – for the knaves would just seek to game that too.
The problem is not formal – still less legalistic – but cultural.
There is not a sense of constitutionalism in the government – the understanding that there are political norms and practices higher than party advantage.
Instead, we have childish glee as a government-supporting politician finds a new confrontation to force or contrives a culture war to stoke.
It does not have to be this way.
And it is strange that it takes footballers to point this out – not only the mature inclusivity of Southgate but also, for example, the thoughtful kindness of figures such as Marcus Rashford and Jordan Henderson, among others.
Thanks very much David. Really appreciate that. And … yes, it feels like it's actually reaching the stage where the country could learn a lot from the England football team — although I suppose that's the last lesson some will want to take …
— Oliver Kay (@OliverKay) July 7, 2021
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