BBC Radio 4 has little gems of programmes. On Wednesday evening I listened to “Home Thoughts from Abroad” in the car on the way home from a meeting – repeated on iPlayer until June 30th. Here’s the BBC’s description of the programme,
“John F Jungclaussen, commentator for “Die Zeit” magazine, explains what Britain can learn from German politics and vice versa. In the last of an “ideas swap” series, Mr Jungclaussen argues that Britain is an increasingly authoritarian society, compared to laid-back Germany. He also explains what the Germans could learn from the British tradition of celebrating Guy Fawkes night.”
Jungclaussen lives in the UK and is clearly an anglophile. Describing his admiration of our ability to debate, and to use our language to its fullest ability, unlike in Germany. Although he bemoaned our increased acceptance of authoritarian government, describing one difference between the two nations on adherence to a common law banning smoking in pubs and bars. Surprisingly the anti-smoking law is widely flouted in Germany, but never in the UK. His argument was that Britain retains the wrong image of German people.
Of course, now we are playing Germany yet again in the World Cup, British tabloid newspapers revert to stereotypical portrayal of the two nations. Some Germans are not amused, to be expected I suppose.
It’s in this atmosphere that David Cameron has proposed watching the football match on TV with German chancellor Angela Merkel. What a natural diplomat is David Cameron. I hope this is what happens. Such a simple gesture, but an indication of friendship and common cause. Nick Robinson has blogged about this Crunch Match, and how Cameron is different to Gordon Brown, thank goodness.