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August 22, 2007

England and Germany

This is all slightly hopeful:

"The role of the tabloid media is the main aspect behind Anglo-German tensions," the Durham University academic said: "The majority of British people today, especially the younger generations, perceive Germany as a partner country, and no longer hold any particular resentment about Germany and its people.

"The obsessive anti-European sentiment expressed by the Conservative Government under Margaret Thatcher in the 1980s allowed the British tabloids to use increasingly hostile and often xenophobic language against the UK's continental European partners, particularly France and Germany.

"This legacy has lingered on and becomes particularly bad during football competitions."

In his book, Britain, Germany and the Future of the European Union, Dr Schweiger writes: "Even the negative portrayal of Germany during 18 years of Conservative rule in Britain, or the occasional screaming tabloid reference to the war years could not seriously damage the increasing cultural and political closeness between Britain and Germany."

He's making the same, and incorrect, assumption that so many do about politics. Newspapers don't create the prejudices opinions of their readers, they chase them. Just as you would expect any profit maximising business to do. That millions buy into such bash the Huns rhetoric shows not that they are being manipulated, but that they already think this way.

Of course, being British it's all a little ironic: humming Dambusters and waving blow up Spitfires isn't quite the same as actually hating Germans: we reserve that emotion for the French.

August 22, 2007 in European Union | Permalink

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Regarding newspapers, Tim Worstall says this: Newspapers dont create the prejudices opinions of their readers, they chase them. Just as you would expect any profit maximising business to do. Surely this is mistaken. Yes, newspapers do pander to ... [Read More]

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Comments

He's a no-nothing academic if he thinks the Thatcher government was obsessively anti-Europe in the 80's.

Posted by: Smidgeon | Aug 22, 2007 9:48:06 AM

I'd be surprised if the tensions between us and the Continent (esp. Germany and France) ever dissapate. It seems healthy to have a competitive, rude relationship with those nearest and most similar to you. We're never (at least within a human lifespan) going to fight them like we did so we can afford that relationship. However, the same frostiness between Russia and us recently is scarier because the potential for conflict is so much greater. It seems countries, and the people they represent, like having enemies, so if we have to have them, they might as well be our friends.

Posted by: Philip Thomas | Aug 22, 2007 9:55:29 AM

"Newspapers don't create the prejudices opinions of their readers, they chase them."

But surely there has to be some sort of "echo chamber" effect. Newspapers don't create prejudices but they certainly strengthen them.

Posted by: Phil | Aug 22, 2007 10:15:08 AM

As a "Knuckle Dragging Xenophobe", I have to confess that I rather like Germany and the Germans.

I know its too complicated for the wee brains of Europhiles to comprehend, but EU Scepticism and hating Germans are not connected.

Posted by: Serf | Aug 22, 2007 11:03:15 AM