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Is Cameron the Wayne Rooney or the “Sick Man” of Europe?

According that bastion of Tory values, the Daily Telegraph, “David Cameron is  the ‘Wayne Rooney of Europe, always defeated’ says German media, as reported by the Prime Minister likened to England’s footballer because of his failure to block appointment of Jean-Claude Juncker to top European position.”

“In Brussels Cameron is becoming increasingly the Wayne Rooney of EU politics – someone who returns home defeated.” said Das Bild, a German tabloid newspaper, which is European enough to have an English language version on their website. Can you imagine the Sun doing the same?

Earlier in the week the German news magazine Der Spiegel carried an article from London based journalist Jakob Horstmann, who had interviewed me about my work. Jakob proposed in his opening sentence that David Cameron was “ein Kranker Mann” – a sick man – suffering from Boarding School Syndrome. This bold statement was perhaps also cleverly punning on the historical reference to the Ottoman Empire, known as the “Sick man of Europe,” before the First World War.

But it is not rocket science why Cameron cannot make friends in Europe. I hinted at it in my Guardian article, but explain it in detail in Wounded Leaders. Wrenched away from home to board as children, ex-boarders have not had enough of belonging: so they mistrust it. It took me 20 years to join a tennis club! Cameron can’t imagine belonging to Europe, but he sees himself as fit for leading it. The Entitlement Illusion means that Cameron only sees himself and his country through this odd veil.

His European counterparts think this is nuts: you have to properly belong to something before you lead it. In fact one of his only chums, Poland’s Foreign Minister Radek Sikorski declared: ‘He f****d it up, he doesn’t get it’.

Having to dissociate from feelings ex-boarders frequently struggle to develop relationships, so Cameron hasn’t built them in Europe. Cameron is a survivor alright, as, who interviewed me today suggest. He seems like he can survive even the hacking scandal and Coulson’s predictable guilty verdict: But why is he so out of step, you may wonder?

Recent evidence from neuroscience experts shows what a poor training for leaderships elite boarding actually is. In short, you cannot make good decisions without emotional information (Professor Antony Domasiso); nor grow a flexible brain without good attachments (Dr Sue Gerhardt); nor interpret facial signals if your heart has had to close down (Professor Stephen Porges); nor see the big picture if your brain has been fed on a strict diet of rationality (Dr Iain McGhilchrist). These factors underpin Will Hutton’s view that “the political judgments of the Tory Party have, over the centuries, been almost continuously wrong”.

Back to Wayne. Poor guy – he used to be so creative, until he got his version of entitlement. Imagine that his name is now a term of ridicule. The World Cup perhaps shows up our divided society. England footballers seemed depressed before the groups – what must they feel like now?

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