Peter Rhodes on railway madness, masked confusion and the knee that morphed

Read Peter Rhodes' latest column.

A very British knee
A very British knee

In a survey by Network Rail, one-third of adults admitted they would risk going on rail tracks to recover a dropped phone. Hello? Hel . . . .

Brainless fans putting police officers in hospital. Ticketless fans storming Wembley. Disgusting fans spitting on Danish children. Savage fans injuring legitimate ticket holders. The more we learn about what actually happened at Wembley, the less we seem a fit nation to host the 2030 World Cup. Football – a great game but can the English be trusted with it?

Cross the border from Scotland to England and you may remove your face mask. Cross from England into Wales and the mask becomes compulsory again. And if you cross the Irish sea to Ulster, the mask must be worn in any month ending in a Y. One of the above statements is fictitious. But hand on heart, does anyone believe devolution, with a set of different rules for each of the home nations, has helped the UK fight Covid? Or is it simply an opportunity for politicians to demonstrate their separateness (let's see what England does and do something a wee bit different)?

If we really were four separate, devolved, proud and mature nations, on day one of this pandemic the governments of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland would have created a joint committee to set out clear, simple anti-Covid measures to cover us all. We might even have invited the Irish Republic to join us in creating a British Isles-wide anti-viral strategy. Separateness costs lives.

What's not to like about the National Food Strategy, commissioned by the Government and mapped out by the restaurateur Henry Dimbleby. It proposes a fairly painless way of making food healthier by means of a levy on sugar and salt sold wholesale for use in processed food. This would raise up to £3.4billion a year, some of which should provide free school meals to an extra million children. It is, as they say, a win-win situation. And yet the whisper from Whitehall is that Boris and Co will kick this strategy into the long grass. Another victory for the lobbyists?

Home Secretary Priti Patel was not the only one with reservations about sports stars taking the knee; she dismissed it as "gesture politics". When it first entered our consciousness last year, taking the knee was far too American. It was closely associated with the anti-capitalist US Black Lives Matter movement which embraces some hard-left policies including defunding the police. Since then, in England, taking the knee has morphed into a harmless, non-political gesture against racism in general. No-one should be forced to do it but no-one should condemn those who choose to.

With the GB women's football team deciding to take the knee at the Olympics, it's time for Priti Patel to accept the ground has shifted and that the knee we imported from America has become a very British knee.

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