The English have some concerns: Scotland and Manchester United

Travel broadens the mind, they say, so I have been taking advantage of off-season pricing and an open schedule made possible by retirement to, well, to travel.  My destination was London.  

It is always interesting to read the papers in London to see what interests the English. They are, like us, consumed by their national politics.  Conservatives versus Labour with a bit of Liberal Democrats thrown in.  

The latter two have joined a coalition government that makes for subtle conflicts over policies. In Britain’s parliamentary system you have to have a majority in the lower house to form the executive. No party won a majority in the last election, thus the coalition. 

Elections are due again in 2015, so maneuvering for position is difficult when two parties are supposed to share the same policies. Thus the subtle politics.

Two issues dominate the domestic politics at the moment.  One is whether to withdraw from the European Union. This is a drastic step that is championed by a rightist nationalist “third” party that has shown some strength in the polls. Many are pushing for a vote on the issue.  

The second issue is the December vote in Scotland as to whether to withdraw from the United Kingdom (which is the formal entity that we call England that includes Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). Quite a drastic step, but no love has been lost between the two since England forced a unity of the two eons ago.  

It will be interesting to see what happens. Modern states are not supposed to break up, but regionalism is rife throughout the world; in Russia, the Balkans, Sudan, and many other places.

Internationally, the British are particularly following conditions in Syria and in Ukraine. One is in a vicious civil war, the other is experiencing a pull between influence of Russia and the European Union. Demonstrators in the streets want the president, who favored closer ties to Russia, to honor a pledge to sign agreements bringing it closer to the EU. Conflict continues.

The British, not unlike us here in America, are sports crazy, but for different sports. Soccer (they call it football) of course, is king, like in most of the world. Cricket and rugby are fervently followed as well. And horse racing is more popular there than in the U.S.  

The big news that has everyone talking is the decline of Manchester United football team. It is the Yankees of the Premier League, the highest level of their football.  But they have fallen on bad times lately. They are sixth or seventh in the league behind archrival Manchester City as well as Chelsea and Arsenal.  Look it up, it is a close race at the top.

Okay, so you don’t follow European soccer-football. Try international cricket and rugby matches if you want rivalry. India, Pakistan and a variety of other former British influences are balmy over cricket. Everyone else just can’t understand the game.  Australia, New Zealand and Fiji have tough rugby national teams.  

The British follow these two sports closely. Though football is king. There are at least three levels of leagues and the interesting thing is that if you finish last in the Premier League, you must drop down into the next level league and their top team joins the Premier League. Not a bad idea.

Anyway, coming home I had only one complaint, well two if you count this lousy weather.

I had to read the Maryville Daily Forums I missed. 

Used to be I could go through two weeks of papers in about half an hour. This time, it took me hours. All that new information and new columns! Not used to all that local news, I could even catch up on what’s happening in the local sports.  

Ah, the curse of a good newspaper.