So it's Bayern Munich versus Borussia Dortmund at Wembley - If this is the Fourth Reich, count me in

The Teutonic model isn't only fashionable in football, it's hot politics too

Share

It’s been at least a couple of years since fashionable opinion had it that we are living under the Fourth Reich. By giving Germany de facto control over both Europe’s core and outskirts, the eurozone crisis, on this reasoning, had fulfilled Bismarck’s dream of economic hegemony spreading to the East Mediterranean. When I visited Athens a year ago, the pictures of Frau Merkel despoiled with a toothbrush moustache showed this view had become the orthodoxy.

But there is a less sinister interpretation of Germany’s domination of Europe, which is that the triumph of the Teutonic model has lessons we should all learn. This week, Bayern Munich thumped Barcelona to set up an all-German Champions League final against Borussia Dortmund on 25 May. As our Economics Editor, Ben Chu, argued this week, Germany’s football clubs are run in a way that should make English fans wince.

Their ownership model, by which the majority of a club’s shares are owned by fans, creates institutions based on common interests – a far cry from the buyer-seller, consumer-producer model we have here. Long-term planning, huge investment in training young talent, resistance to debt and a wage-to income ratio of 37.5 per cent (compared with 64 per cent across Europe) have made these clubs financially solid and locally strong, an apt metaphor for the country as a whole. No wonder this week’s New Statesman cover asks: “Why can’t we be more like Germany?”

The answer is we can, and soon may be. Two of the most influential members of Ed Miliband’s inner circle are former academics Stewart Wood and Maurice Glasman. These men have the same area of expertise: Germany’s economy. Their project is to convince Ed Miliband to convince Britain to be more like Germany. What would that mean in practice?

Some of the following, at least: regional banks, more mutuals, worker representation on boards, more vocational training, a much bigger manufacturing sector, and whatever else fits under the banner of social democracy. Germany’s culture has an element of social authoritarianism, or reverence for rules; what my colleague John Rentoul describes as a culture of not crossing the road when there’s a red man. Miliband’s recent speeches on immigration and welfare been suffused with this.

That Champions League final is at Wembley. If the Labour leader’s acolytes have their wits about them, they will secure a pair of tickets for Miliband. Though not a pukka football fan, he could reasonably claim that he was going along not to watch 90 minutes (or more) of pulsating action, but rather to gather ideas for his party’s election manifesto.

Long derided as a return to Old Labour, such a visit would help to fashion an altogether more appealing narrative for Miliband: Neue Labour, the updated version of a creed Britain used to keep voting for.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

£37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

£25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

£16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour's Jeremy Corbyn arrives to take part in a Labour party leadership final debate, at the Sage in Gateshead, England, Thursday, Sept. 3  

Jeremy Corbyn is here to stay and the Labour Party is never going to look the same again

Andrew Grice
Serena Williams  

As Stella Creasy and Serena Williams know, a woman's achievements are still judged on appearance

Holly Baxter
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones