Support for Euro 2012 in Ukraine will help end racism
Opinion digest: Ukraine football racism, the myth of 'Englishness' and pension reforms
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DON'T JUDGE A NATION BY ITS HOOLIGANS
MARINA LEWYCKA ON EURO 2012 UKRAINE
The horrible displays of violent racism on Ukrainian football terraces are shameful, says Marina Lewycka in The Daily Telegraph. But you cannot judge a whole nation by its football hooligans. In 30 years, England has changed from a country where landladies put up notices saying, 'No blacks, no Irish', and where young black men were stabbed at bus stops, "to a nation where such attitudes have been exiled to the extreme fringe". But before we pat ourselves on the back too hard, let's remember all the protests, petitions and pickets, and praise the stubbornness and courage of black footballers and the parents of murdered sons who wouldn't take racism lying down. Whatever magic worked over here, Ukraine needs some of it now. That's why, despite the controversy, we should support the Euros being held in Ukraine. "Such an event can only help to bring Ukraine into modern Europe."
MILIBAND'S ENGLAND IS A MYTH
OWEN JONES ON ENGLISHNESS
"Englishness" is not a priority for most, says Owen Jones in The Independent. Ed Miliband's speech on Englishness yesterday suggests the Labour leadership is still seeking a coherent narrative. Yet it's the bread-and-butter issues that Labour needs to address, particularly at a time of economic crisis, if it hopes to claw back some of the five million voters who abandoned the party during its 13 years in office. Besides, there is no cohesive 'Englishness'. It is a catch-all term for all those who live in England's borders, who have a range of identities, competing interests and histories. A supermarket worker in Manchester probably has more in common with a call centre worker in Aberdeen, or even Paris, than a hedge-fund manager in London. "Labour would do better to talk about championing the interests of the people it was set up to represent: working people, regardless of their national affiliations."
'GRANNY BASHING' IS ONLY FAIR
GABY HINSLIFF ON PENSIONERS
'Granny' is one of those words that often kills rational political argument, says Gaby Hinsliff in The Guardian. George Osborne faced a PR disaster after his budget changes to retirement thresholds were labelled a 'granny tax'. Privately, though, senior politicians from all parties have been questioning universal pensioner freebies, from heating allowances to free bus passes. But they haven't dared say so in public, given four-in-ten voters are aged over 55. But austerity risks "flushing intergenerational tensions out into the open by forcing ministers to choose between the demands of angry youth and needy old age". With little more welfare fat to trim, the government faces a choice between reducing the budget for wealthier pensioners, or redoubling the punishment for those of working age. It needs to deal with issues of aged care while asking wealthy retirees to pay for their own bus passes for the sake of their grandchildren. "It's time the generations were all in this together."