James Forsythe's recent post at FP Passport about the effect on Germany's World Cup wins on Angela Merkel's government belatedly reminded me of his similar earlier post titled "Tony Blair's World Cup Dream." (What's more, Forsythe predicted Merkel's success in a post titled "Kicking Off.")
The good news for Blair is that for every day England are in the competition, there will be less space in the media for—and less interest in—news of the failure to deport foreign criminals, internal struggles, incompetence in the NHS, and the like. Equally the PM can expect to be the indirect beneficiary of any feel good factor and economic bounce created by a strong English performance...
Not only is Merkel getting great publicity with every Germany game (the TV cuts to her even more than it does to Posh Spice aka Mrs Beckham during England games), but she is also using the tournament to push through a series of controversial measures. The Times of London had a great article a few days ago about all the bills that Merkel is sneaking through while the public is captivated by the heroics of Ballack, Lehman et al.
These measures aren't small beer. The other day, she got parliament to endorse a 3 percent increase in sales tax. My friend Andrew Curry, who wrote the World Cup brothels piece for us and lives in Germany, tells me that this is the biggest tax increase since 1949. But there was hardly a whimper of public protest as everyone was too busy watching the football.