The Third Leader: National pride

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The Independent Online

Conscious that opinions offered in this space carry a disproportionate weight, I have so far resisted entering into several current debates, notably Mr Brown's Britishness initiative, followed by its equal in column inches, the upcoming need for a new England coach.

However, influenced by numerous appeals to my sense of duty, I now proffer some thoughts, starting with a practical matter, that of flying more Union flags in our gardens. Has anyone considered the health and safety implications? I am aware of how easy it is for the untrained to step inadvertently into a loop of rope, which can lead to serious consequences if one then tugs sharply: it will do this country no good if patriots find themselves suspended at half mast by an ankle.

There are other concerns, such as the height that is going to be needed to clear the Leylandii, and the correct response to someone who points out that it is upside down; but I should not wish these to detract from the timeliness and importance of the Chancellor's point. We do need to think more deeply about our shared virtues and values; and, indeed, it was good to see, in a speech last night, Mr Cameron make a typically trenchant intervention. Britishness, he said, is "about Britons".

Which brings me to Mr Eriksson's successor. I will not join the chauvinist chorus calling for an English coach. But has anyone considered the unifying effect of appointing a Scot? In fact, I have in mind a "dream team", with unmatched experience in technical expertise, media pressure, and entertaining the nation. Step forward, Ferguson and Galloway!

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