Written by Eric Sun
Both the Conservative Party and the Labour Party, in a rare occurrence, have found consensus. They both are fully against a European Super League.
In an age where not even science sometimes can be universally agreed upon, such as the safety of vaccines, the recent situation in the footballing world regarding a potential new European Super League sticks out as a great exception to the rule. From fans, players, coaches and other clubs, to sports journalists / former players, and even the prime minister himself, the newest proposal of an elite midweek football competition, which aims to replace the Champions League in spirit, has achieved the legendary status of allowing our society to finally gain widespread consensus on something again.
This raises the question: how is it that social phenomena like this are so rare now in the UK?
When speaking on the subject of consensus, it is important to remember that it wasn’t always as rare as it is today. The UK in the decades following World War II was one where consensus was regularly found across the political and social world. Where today even the shape of the Earth is disputed, the post war era was, for the most part, united even on societal issues such as attitudes towards the welfare state. From the one nation Conservatives on the right to socialist Labour on the left, almost everyone agreed with the Keynesian post war consensus of a sustainable social democracy backed up by a generous welfare state.
Yet something changed after the 1980s. This was when the global political movement of neoliberalism came into force. With two ‘New Right’ leaders being elected into office on both sides of the Atlantic in Reagan and Thatcher, the welfarism which held nations such as the UK together for the last 35 years came apart.
What replaced it, for a while at least, was another near total consensus. This time it was on the, at the time, seemingly ‘self-evident truth’ of neoliberalism. With the collapse of communism in Eastern Europe in the late 80s and early 90s, it sure looked as though capitalism and the liberal democratic system were the only viable economic and political systems. It comes as no surprise then that even the Labour Party of the 90s under New Labour were relatively right wing in the grand scheme of things. We have therefore gone from a social democratic consensus to a neoliberal consensus. So far, so good, then, for unity.
But circumstances changed again in the 2010s. As the internet became more and more prominent in our lives, it brought about the rise of widespread unchecked and ‘fake’ information. Although movements like anti-vax have existed long before the days of the World Wide Web, it was this global network which gave its message a greater platform to spread on than ever before.
We now live in an era where Facebook and Instagram actively use targeted advertisement for each of its users. This means that users can no longer see the other side of the story, since the social media platforms simply decide that because you like the one side, you must only want to see this side. Is it any surprise then that the previous decades of consensus would be broken in the UK? If all one follows are sites such as PragerU, The Daily Wire or The Sun, one’s outlook on everything social and political will be determined by big-tech to be the complete opposite of someone who only follows the likes of The Independent, The Guardian or CNN. In the past, at the very least one can have some contact with the other side involuntarily, be it stumbling across both Telegraph and Guardian newspapers at the grocery store or flicking through TV channels, from MSNBC to Fox News. But since TV and newspapers have been in decline due to the digital world, in 2021 such interactions with the other side are no longer necessary or as common.
The internet has therefore torn the people of Britain as well as other Western Democracies apart. In today’s polarized atmosphere, simply campaigning as a politician for your own views means you are at risk of getting shouted down and kicked out of the pub by some angry pub owner, or even worse egged by members of the public. Issues such as Brexit alone could give us significant insight as to how divided our country has become: everyone has their own views on the world, and not many are willing to compromise on their view. It is rather ironic, then, that though large parts of this country are not fans, or may not have even heard of Ayn Rand, that so many of us nonetheless subscribe to her philosophy that life should not require compromise.
This, in essence, is why it is so refreshing to see, despite years of increasing division within the UK, for once something that has finally held us together as one United Kingdom. As I write this, Ed Woodard has resigned from the position of Manchester United executive vice-chairman, and all of the top six clubs of the Premier League have announced intentions to back out of the elitist, anti-competition European Super League. With this proposed Champions League-replacing plan in absolute tatters, it is worth reminding the reader of just how rare yet powerful these moments where our Kingdom is United are. We may hardly ever see anything like this again anytime soon (if we were to paraphrase the infamous words of legendary football commentator Martin Tyler). So enjoy it; drink it in: we may be divided on a lot in politics, but one of the last frontiers of unity in our Kingdom, the beautiful game, is still going strong, for now.
Left Photo Source - Flickr (Number 10)
Right Photo Source - Flickr (UK Parliament)