I will start by admitting that I am no fan of sport, let alone Tennis. I haven’t followed Wimbledon since the ‘tie break’ rule came in, and we lost the thrilling games of yesteryear. Plus ‘Baseline’ tennis also bored me to tears, and I yearned for a return to those ‘serve and volley’ days.
But my post today is about sadness. Sad at the desperation this country feels to achieve some acclaim, in modern sport. So much fuss today, about Johanna Konta. She is ‘representing’ Britain, and has achieved a breakthrough, to the Wimbledon semi-finals. Her success has been lauded as the first time a British woman has been through to this round, since Virginia Wade, in the equivalent of the tennis ‘stone age’.
How proud we are. How effusive are the commentators, and the excited news reports. Flags are flying high, British tennis is on the ascendant. Although she may be minced up by one of the Williams sisters, those automatons of modern tennis, it doesn’t matter. She is through, and we are almost ecstatic as a nation.
But hang on. Something is wrong here, surely?
This young lady was born of Hungarian parents, in Australia. She had an Australian passport, and played tennis for that country. Fair enough, she was born there. Johanna Konta, Australian tennis star. That sounds good. Well done to her. Australia has a great tennis heritage, and she should do well, given the right chances. But then her parents moved to the UK. Johanna went to Spain, to improve her tennis skills. So, Johanna decided to become a British citizen, just five years ago, in 2012. She then appeared as a tennis player for Great Britain. No longer Hungarian by the nationality of her parents, or Australian by the nationality of her birth. Suddenly, she is British, and our great white hope in tennis.
So, am I proud? No, quite frankly, I am ashamed. Because she is good at a particular sport, she is accepted immediately, unlike so many others struggling for a British Passport. Give her nationality, forget her Australian (and Hungarian) roots. She is as English as me. Hooray! Remember Zola Budd? I do.
As far as I am concerned, this is simply unacceptable. Sporting prowess should not equal nationality.
The panic over the EU referendum continues. This week, the Irish Prime Minister was recruited to throw his hat into the ring, on behalf of the ‘Stay’ campaign. So we have had Obama, Angela Merkel, and The World Bank getting involved. In addition, we have Merchant Banks, and the Canadian head of The Bank of England, all urging the UK to vote to stay in. Then the Irish PM arrives, with the sanction of the British government, to urge all the Irish people in the UK to vote to stay in.
We have over 1,000,000 people in the UK who claim some Irish descent, or are actually Irish passport holders. As well as these individuals, we are also (amazingly) allowing EU citizens resident here (Poles, Lithuanians etc,) to vote in the forthcoming referendum. Ireland wants us to stay in. Of course they do. They can travel a short distance to the UK province of Northern Ireland, and enjoy shopping for much cheaper goods.
These people are essentially ‘foreign nationals’, but they are allowed to vote in our elections. This sums up everything that is unacceptable about the EU, and the laws that govern it. What other country allows outsiders to vote in their elections? Do I have a vote for Sanders in the US elections? Of course not. I am not an American. Can I vote for a moderate government in the Philippines. Not a chance. I am English, not Filipino. Do I even have a vote closer to home, for the Irish parliament? No, because I do not live there. The frustrations attached to this for British voters can only be imagined. We are at the mercy of foreign nationals, with vested interests to protect.
I want to punch my own face in frustration. No other country in the world would allow outsiders to determine their fate in a national election. So why do we allow it?
Because of EU rules.
Is it any wonder that I want to get out of this failed system?