James Grundy MP: Euro 2020 was a positive display of national pride

James Grundy is the Conservative MP for Leigh.

this was the best performance by the England football team since our World Cup victory back in 1966, says James Grundy
this was the best performance by the England football team since our World Cup victory back in 1966, says James Grundy

I am sure we were all greatly disappointed at the narrow defeat the England team suffered to Italy on Sunday night.

Nevertheless, this was the best performance by the England football team since our World Cup victory back in 1966, and Gareth Southgate and his team should be proud of their efforts.

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It should leave us all hopeful that we may be in with a chance of victory in the World Cup next year in Qatar.

James Grundy MP

Defeat is always hard to deal with, and I speak as someone who has experienced my fair share of defeats in politics over the years!

The trick is not to get disheartened, pick yourself up, dust yourself off, learn from your mistakes and keep going.

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Victory is earned through a combination of hard graft and trial and error, there is no magic potion for success.

I was also struck by two very different types of national identity on display during the tournament.

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The way everyone got behind the England team was truly heartening, a positive display of national pride, willing the team on to success on their own merits.

Had England been knocked out earlier, I have no doubt that we would have been cheering the other home nations had they gone through instead.

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Contrast this with the front page of The National, a Scottish Nationalist aligned publication, which portrayed the Italian football manager as Braveheart, and exhorted the Italians to defeat England on their front page.

This was mean spirited, low, narrow nationalism at its worst, based on a petty dislike of another country rather than pride in one’s own.

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It also speaks to the simultaneously swaggering but profoundly insecure nature of that particular brand of nationalism, whether Scottish or otherwise, boastful and sulky in equal measure.

It is not the voice of the Scotland I know, but then, we must not fall into the trap of thinking that the Scottish Nationalists speak for all, or even most in Scotland. They do not and never have thankfully.

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As someone who has confidence in our nation, and pride in our achievements, (and who also believes in being a good sport, in either victory or defeat) I wish the Italians congratulations on their victory.

I have confidence that England will be back, and victorious, in the fullness of time.

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As we go forward, rediscovering our restored place in the world post-Brexit, there are two ways in which we can believe in our country. I know which approach I prefer when looking forward to the future.

Football might not have come home on Sunday night, but it will eventually.

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I hope the journey it metaphorically takes to get home when it does so is as good-natured and generous in spirit as we have seen over the last few weeks.

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