And Now for Svengland! If It Takes a Swede to Make Our Football Team Win, Why Don't We Appoint Only Foreigners to Make Britain Work Again?

By Heffer, Simon | Daily Mail (London), September 4, 2001 | Go to article overview

And Now for Svengland! If It Takes a Swede to Make Our Football Team Win, Why Don't We Appoint Only Foreigners to Make Britain Work Again?


Heffer, Simon, Daily Mail (London)


Byline: SIMON HEFFER

A SWEDE has helped the England football team beat Germany 5-1. As we survey the crumbling institutions, infrastructure and industries of our once great nation, an obvious question arises.

Should we scour the streets of Stockholm and Gothenburg for more such miracle workers? Might there be someone lurking in the backstreets of Malmo who might do something even more improbable and get the cones off our motorways?

Our own country, which within living memory ruled a quarter of the globe, now finds it impossible to find politicians, administrators, businessmen or sportsmen of sufficient calibre to keep it afloat.

Therefore, when the going gets tough, we must go abroad to find the people who can save us.

Welcome to Svengland.

Indeed, it appears already to have occurred to others that foreigners - and not just Swedes - might be the answer to our national incompetence.

A few weeks ago, for example, the England cricket authorities hired Rodney Marsh, one of the finest wicketkeepers in the game's history, to run its new cricket academy. Mr Marsh is an Australian and, given the excellence of his countrymen at the game, the perfect choice.

British Airways has already thrown in the towel, and is run by an Australian. The London Underground is now being sorted out by an American.

As a nation, we have recently complained about opportunistic economic migrants. But there are just a few out there that we ought, in fact, to be quite happy to see turning up at Dover. The U.S. has the highest standards of healthcare on the planet. If we could tempt Michael Stocker, the president of U.S. healthcare giant Blue Cross Blue Shield, to get our patients off trolleys and waiting lists and back on their feet, would he not be worth granting asylum to?

The first thing that will have struck many of us returning home after our holidays is how congested and inadequate our roads are compared with those on the Continent.

Nazi Germany realised the strategic and economic importance of fast roads and built the autobahns.

Subsequent German governments, while rejecting the politics, have agreed, and the country's present minister of transport, Kurt Bodewig, is now busy extending Germany's excellent road network into the east.

Perhaps he should do something similar here, with a radical policy of making our roads fit for something other than the Fifties.

The French probably have the best schools in Europe. Therefore, the French education minister, Jack Lang, ought to be invited to extend the civilising tone of the French school and university regime over here. France has always trained people for the public service, with its own staff college for would-be diplomats and civil servants.

Monsieur Lang might give us one of those, too, even though its graduates would completely outwit all the ministers they served.

We might also take the radical step of training businessmen to manage and to take decisions properly, though I would fancy Microsoft boss Bill Gates for that, even though he is worth a few billion less today than a couple of years back.

The French, though, appear unbeatable on rail travel, too, so Louis Gallois, the head of the French rail system, SNCF, would seem the man for Railtrack. …

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