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Has The England Squad Put An End To The Nefarious Culture Wars

“I don’t want to become involved in any kind of political culture war,” Prime Minister David Cameron said in the House of Commons yesterday.

The significance of this was generally overlooked in the post-match PMQs media analysis, but it was a crucial statement in recent times.

Or, to be more accurate, a surrender declaration.

It was proof that we have a generation of England footballers who are driving the country ahead both on and off the field after taking us to our first final in 55 years.

Many people wonder why it is up to footballers to provide moral leadership in difficult times.

It’s a reasonable question, and one that all politicians, including myself, should consider.

Yet one of the answers is obvious: for these bunch of working-class English lads, the political climate that has been growing in this country for years, fuelled by members of the current government, became unavoidable.

They had to make a decision on the eve of the event.

When I was an MP for what is now known as a “Red Wall” constituency approximately ten years ago, it became evident to me that there was a genuine campaign underway by forces on the right to attack working-class areas.

Working people paid the price in terms of lost income and living conditions during the financial crisis of 2008.

As a result, the Right was able to undertake inroads into previously unattainable terrain.

They could damage the Left’s power base and keep them out of office if they could use the mood of these terrible times to split those communities.

Let’s face it, it’s been a resounding success.

The Conservative Party used a lesser version of the technique at the time, referring to “strivers and skivers” and encouraging “hard-working people” to blame the decline in their living conditions on a neighbor who still had their curtains closed at 9 a.m.

The most insidious components of it, such as blaming persons of a different nationality or racial ancestry, were first utilized by forces on the far right.

Yet, as the decade went on, some of this filtered into the Tory mainstream.

What began as a hidden political strategy has become an open element of this government’s MO in the last two years.

Ministers are never far from a flag and are quick to seize on contentious matters.

Back to Euro 2020, and the pre-tournament friendly in Middlesbrough in early June.

I was concerned about how the matter would play out in the tournament when elements of the crowd booed the kneeling.

But, as Cabinet ministers weighed in, I became concerned about the consequences.

The England locker room was, in some ways, a microcosm of all the working-class communities that have been buffeted by these tremendous political forces for at least the past decade.

They had to make a choice, and they chose well.

In doing so, they have shattered the Right’s hold and shifted the narrative.

They have painted a different picture of England than has been painted in recent years — one that is decent, united, and principled — as well as a picture of the North.

The Prime Minister has been obliged to proclaim the culture wars over due to the resonance of this.

The Rights strategy has always had two major problems.

To begin with, it was predicated on the assumption that the majority of people in the North are slightly xenophobic or racist.

It is not the North I am familiar with.

There was always going to be a moment where individuals got tired of people who didn’t live here attempting to paint us in a negative light.

I’ve grown up playing football in the North West and am confident that every dressing room I’ve ever been in would have reached the same conclusion as the England team.

We are not a monolithic “Red Wall” of unfriendly individuals, but have always been a pleasant and accepting environment.

This leads me to the next flaw.

During the last decade, I’ve watched in horror as some of our country’s most privileged people, who make nothing more than sporadic travels north, pretended to speak for it.

More and more people are seeing what they’re about, thanks in part to the pandemic’s experience.

There are many stories to tell about Euro 2020, but one of them is how the England football team exposed a decade-long campaign to divide working-class people and compelled Prime Minister Theresa May to end the cultural wars.

More individuals will feel at comfortable in this country as a result of their efforts, while others will wonder why these rich people, who live by other standards and grant favors to their friends, are inciting me to detest my neighbor.

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