by George Trefgarne
Thursday, 13
August 2020
Idea
07:00

The Nordic streak in Britain’s character

Our cultural links across the North Sea are deeper than we think
by George Trefgarne
Canute the Great, convinces his courtiers that he does not have power to stem the tide. Credit: Getty

We are not going to resolve the identity and institutional questions with which we are currently wrestling without acknowledging the Nordic streak in the British character.

In principle, this should not be difficult. The North Sea — gloriously inviting on a warm summer’s day and tumultuous in the depths of winter — is, like, a mini-Mediterranean, one of the great crucibles of civilisation.

Hybridity is an essential concept in understanding national identity, especially in Britain, a country made up of two nations, a principality and a province, all woven into a whole by a shared constitution, experience, geography, culture, custom and practice but being pulled hither and thither by Brexit.

The Atlantic-facing side of the British character has been well-aired and so has the Continental, across the Channel. But for some reason the North Sea and our relationship with our fluent-English speaking neighbours, with strong maritime traditions, a liking for diary products, golf and constitutional monarchy in Sweden, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands have been neglected.

Freddie Sayers writes in these pages about the quirks of Swedish culture, but allow me to offer three examples of what we share with our Nordic neighbours.

The first is to be found in the burial site of Sutton Hoo, in Suffolk. The mighty helmet, shield and other items exhumed in the excavations strongly resemble those in ship-burials in Vendel, Sweden. We cannot be sure of the precise reason, but it is clear that the Sutton Hoo site is expressive of peoples who were bustling back and forth across the North Sea, trading as far as Byzantium.

Their Viking successors might be best-remembered as raiders, but things settled down in the tenth century. The East of England became, temporarily, Danelaw and in the eleventh century England was briefly swept into the arc of Denmark and we had two Danish Kings, Sven Forkbeard and Cnut.

The conflicts were never capable of stopping the trade. If you visit Kings Lynn in Norfolk you will find among architectural remnants of a Medieval trading hub the Hanse House, originally a series of residences and warehouses leased to merchants from the Hanseatic League. This was an alliance of trading cities and trading posts stretching from Aberdeen to Novogord in Russia. Along these routes travelled not just goods but ideas, including the Reformation.

The third example, I would say, is manners. The Nordic nations are characterised by a strong middle class, high levels of social capital and of an understanding of “liberty under the law”. But they do not just rely on the law to enforce social norms, they respect custom, practice and consideration for one another. These are the bourgeois values which also underpinned the Industrial Revolution here, as the historian Deidre McCloskey (correct) has explained.

How we should celebrate and nurture our cultural and economic links is across the North Sea through all sorts of things from student-exchanges, to sport, to perhaps joining the European Free Trade Association (a sort-of free trade talking shop founded by Britain in the 1960s) is a separate conversation.

One thing I do assert is the Nordic countries, particularly Sweden and Norway, have done a fantastic job in confronting the coronavirus, avoiding the worst excesses of the lockdown and limiting the economic damage. Their states, built on strong institutions, high levels of female participation and sovereign wealth funds, are apparently well prepared for the challenges of the 21st Century. I suspect the Scots look upon them with admiration and so should the rest of us.

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chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
2 years ago

This is because the character of a culture is determined by its people. If Norwegians emigrate to a country, as they did to Britain a millennium ago, that country will become more like Norway, as George describes, contributing to our history of prosperity. And if Somalis and Zimbabweans emigrate to a country, as we are encouraging them to do to Britain today, that country will become more like Somalia and Zimbabwe, and we likewise see that effect in modern Britain, with the relevant consequences for our prosperity. People determine culture, not the other way around.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
2 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Or, as I often put it: ‘If you invite third world savages into your country, you will become a savage, third world country’.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It is possible to have nuanced debate about the negatives (and positives) of external cultural influence without being derogatory.

That is precisely the problem with a lot of debate on these issues so it would be a shame to descend into that here.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

sadly it is true.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

And vice versa, just look at the glories of the former British Empire for one.

Gary Richmond
Gary Richmond
2 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Whilst, I appreciate that this article relates to our Nordic neighbours. It can’t be denied that people do determine culture and, it’s worth a look at Douglas Murray’s book ‘The Strange Death of Europe’ and, his analysis and explanation as to the issues and concerns about an influx of different cultures into a society without, any dedicated plan for integration or assimilation.

Kristján Arngrímsson
Kristján Arngrímsson
2 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

” .. the character of a culture is determined by its people” is not as clear cut a premiss as you make is sound. Thus your argument is faulty and your conclusion most likely false, or at least not as obvious as you make it sound. People are of course determined by the character of the culture they live in. Indeed, one might possibly argue that that is one of the determining characters of the Nordic countries.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
2 years ago

People are not determined by the character of the culture they live in as adults. They are influenced to some minor extent by the culture they live in as children, but far from determined. It takes a very extreme change in culture, even from an early age, to over-ride biology.

The Nordic countries themselves show this quite neatly. The experiment of importing Muslims en masse to Sweden in the naïve post-modern belief that culture determines people (rather than biological reality determining people) has been a failure. Rather than being turned into responsible, liberal Swedes, the Muslims simply turned the parts of Sweden where they live into Islamic societies.

The post-modern rejection of material reality has failed to produce the results it expected and hoped for. The multi-cultural model it endorses has not led to human flourishing, but conflict and chaos. The effects of that model now need to be compassionately but firmly reversed.

Kristján Arngrímsson
Kristján Arngrímsson
2 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Your generalisations, e.g. about immigration in Sweden, make it difficult to discuss things with you, I am afraid. And I am not willing to simply sit by and listen to you pronounce as facts something that is in reality nuanced and varied. Perhaps you live in Sweden or know everything about the Nordic countries? Or is this just a case of the defining factor of “Britishness”: As sense of superiority and all-knowing?
The world has actually had quite enough of this “Britishness” and in that sense the Nordic countries are better off, being relatively free of this superiority complex so affecting the British.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago

You don’t need to generalize about migration, especially Muslim migration in Sweden or the rest of Northern Europe.
We can measure how well a group of migrants performs (on average) against other migrant groups or native population (education, jobs, welfare, income, crime rate).
If you compare (Max Planck Institute study) the Turks in Germany with the other guest workers (Italians, Greeks, Spaniards, Yugoslavs, Eastern Europeans) you can see how poorly they have performed.
Unless of course you believe that there was a “secret” integration plan for the Southern/Eastern Europeans and not the Turks!?
We can do the same thing about Sweden, France, Netherlands, Belgium, Denmark etc.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
2 years ago

Or is this just a case of the defining factor of “Britishness”: As sense of superiority and all-knowing?
The world has actually had quite enough of this “Britishness” and in that sense the Nordic countries are better off, being relatively free of this superiority complex so affecting the British.

You are entitled to your opinions, of course. But if you are truly so sick of the British, why waste your time writing on a small British opinion website? Surely, since you are so much better off than the British, you have many websites of your own, in your native language, that are far better.

In short, I suggest that you follow the advice I have been giving”you cannot say I am inconsistent. Actively appreciate and cherish your own people’s culture, without wasting your time going into others’ cultures and being a busybody.

Kristján Arngrímsson
Kristján Arngrímsson
2 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Erm.. but you just pontificated about Sweden. So if you want me out of your British bubble, should not you avoid pronouncing on culture you so clearly know nothing about? (Since you are so consistent). Or better yet, how about expanding your universe by writing something in a language other than your own? I can tell you from experience that doing that is quite empowering and mind-broadening. Let me know when we can have a discussion in Swedish. Why am I writing on a British website? Well, because I can, I guess.

chrisjwmartin
chrisjwmartin
2 years ago

Why am I writing on a British website? Well, because I can, I guess.

To cause trouble, you mean. We do know in English of at least one word that is firmly Scandinavian in origin: troll.

Kristján Arngrímsson
Kristján Arngrímsson
2 years ago
Reply to  chrisjwmartin

Sorry for my tardy response. Do you mean that someone who disagrees with you is a troll and you would like them to simply shut up?

steve eaton
steve eaton
2 years ago

the very definition of the word culture; is the arts, institutions, habits, achievements and other manifestations of a particular group of people.

Given that, your statement that,”People are of course determined by the character of the culture they live in.”, could be restated as, “Culture are of course determined by the character of the culture they live in.” A bit of circular reasoning I think.

The character of a culture is not determined by the culture as you state. I think that it would be more appropriately stated that culture is determined by what people do in a group.

If you have 1 immigrant move into a community of 100 people, then you are correct. That immigrant will no doubt come to reflect the culture that he has moved into in order to live there. there is no other effective option for him.

However, if you move 50 immigrants from a different culture into that same community, those immigrants no longer have to adapt to the community in order to live there as they have brought their own culture with them.

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago

I would tend to agree. I think British people’s temperament is similar to that of Scandinavians and the Dutch. Hardly surprising in the Dutch case with our two countries’ centuries long quasi-symbiotic relationship in trade and ideas.

A former colleague of mine who was Norwegian but grew up in UK had a fun but daft cartoon book that ‘explained’ Norwegians to outsiders. A lot struck me as similar to British traits (not unlike Freddie’s article the other day), but one cartoon in particular stood out.

The cartoon implored people to not be offended by Norwegians not being overtly friendly and chatty to strangers – but explained that it was because Norwegians are so polite that they feel that interrupting someone else’s silence and personal space by talking, is just too rude.

I definitely think there’s a truth in that, especially when the British are compared to our more noisy cousins from across the Atlantic

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

I would argue that the temperament of Scandis/Dutch is closer to the Germans than the Brits.

mark.williams
mark.williams
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

Our noisy cousins have also taken in people from more gregarious cultures in large numbers.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

“Now we are the binge-drinking yobs of Europe.”
Binge drinking is very much a Northern European thing, may be the Scandis/Germans are a bit more disciplined.
But Orwell (Lion and Unicorn) did point out that even in 1940s England the common man drunk as much as his wages permitted.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

There was always the stalwart, Gin!

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Goes further back than that even!

Tacitus described the Britons’ fondness for a jar or two, and Alcuin of York and some of his compatriots in the court of Charlemagne were also famous for being pissheads.

Here’s a fun article I dug up on the same topic: https://www.independent.co….

Not sure about Scandis! On a visit to Copenhagen, although the occasion was unique (World cup qualifier between Sweden and Denmark), I was genuinely astounded by both nations’ drinking efforts and subsequent penchant for a scrap. And that wasn’t the football fans.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

The Romans introduction of the ‘Red Infuriator’ into the blood stream was also very well received.
“In vino veritas” as they used to say.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

The Finns have/had a rather high rate of stabbing each other, particularly in Helsinki bars, on cold nights after too much schnapps or similar.

Whilst I don’t disagree with you about our loutish behaviour, it can be overstated. I am still pleasantly surprised by how often, even now, the ‘young’ apologise when one inadvertently cannons into them due to poor navigation and the like. They are clearly the innocent party, but still, rather charmingly see fit to apologise, as their forefathers have done for years.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Yes, it’s not quite the Pax Romana, but still fairly idyllic.

I must admit that during one of my frequent bouts of insanity, I did attempt some empirical research a few months ago, on the subject of ‘English’ manners.

Whilst on an adventure to London to ‘raid’ various book shops I determined to ‘barge’ into as many people as possible (without causing any physical damage) to gauge their reaction. To my complete astonishment on almost every occasion my ‘target’ apologised. Normally “I’m so sorry” or something similar. All the targets were young, below say, 35.

I must say it certainly improved my moral, as did the near incessant offering of seats on the tube, and the almost total silence on the crowded train that returned me to Arcadia.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Piccadilly, Charing Cross Rd, Gower St, and Paddington Station and not knifed or stilettoed once! Or even spat at. In fact ‘dives in omnia’.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

What an appalling litany of urban barbarism! In my ignorance I had always blithely assumed such behaviour was confined to remote ghettos, beset by inter racial conflict, drugs, and other types of feral disobedience.

In fact here in Arcadia, such accounts are normally taken as apocryphal, but your evidence seems to indicate we are living in a wonderland divorced from reality.

You may recall that ‘we’ used to joke about the Metropolitan Police in the 1970’s as “the best police money could buy”, but there was little sign of the random thuggery you describe as I recall. What went wrong and why?

This winter is likely be ” the winter of our discontent”, perhaps an opportunity for draconian change?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Yes I concur with that. In fact I regard the Motor Car as one of the three greatest achievements of civilisation, the other two being the
Roman Legion and the Steam Engine.

Even in Arcadia I have also noticed this growth of “petty aggression ” you speak of. Everybody seems to be boiling with rage/anger. What on earth happened to our sense of humour? Post this synthetic C-19 panic will it ever return?

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Yes, the second option is the proper English way, and I always to try to follow it, granted with only middling success.

Off course in English we don’t have a word for the former, at least not like that extraordinary word used by the ‘master race’, “schadenfreude”.

However one terrible flaw I suffer from is the perverse pleasure I take in provoking wee little Scotland. Try as I might, I cannot resist the ‘wind up’, probably because it invariably works! Mea culpa.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Wilco.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Where I have noticed a major difference is on the roads, even in distant Arcadia.

Whereas back in the 60’s we would cheerfully kill up to 8,000 a year, at least we were very polite and considerate..

Now with an infinitesimal ‘chop rate’ of under 2000 the roads are a veritable battlefield of anger, aggression and selfishness.

A far cry indeed from that jingle “The Esso sign means happy motoring”.

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
2 years ago
Reply to  A Spetzari

What do you think accounts for the noisiness of our cousins from across the Atlantic?

A Spetzari
A Spetzari
2 years ago
Reply to  Judy Johnson

In my experience Americans tend to be more extrovert – or perhaps their culture tends towards it.

Guess they are from a broader church vis a vis immigrants since their foundation, so that plays a part I am sure. People willing to up sticks and cross the Atlantic to start a new life will naturally have a bit of “get up and go” about them.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago

How very refreshing to hear such fulsome praise for how Sweden and Norway have handled the The Great Panic, that is C-19!

It total contrast off course to our own deplorable performance. Only yesterday our Chancellor, Mr Sunak was bleating we are ” grappling with something that is unprecedented “. ie total financial melt down!
Well done Sir, and you have brought on yourself and, sadly the rest of this benighted nation. A self inflicted wound, that is without precedent in British History.

As our Prime Minister will know in Ancient Rome, when government officials and others, from the top downwards were perceived to have grievously failed, they were encouraged to take their life and rid society of their embarrassing presence.

The question is, will Boris do the decent thing and emulate Gaius Gracchus, Marcus Junius Brutus, Cato the Younger and numerous other ‘Noble Romans’? I live in hope, if not expectation.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

“How very refreshing to hear such fulsome praise for how Sweden and Norway …”
Sweden policy (based on its own GOV goals) has been a failure. Compare the economic hit and death trate.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

The ‘voice of God’, otherwise known as the BBC seems to think differently, at least on the economic news. (5th August last). Whilst it has not been the economic miracle the Swedes first claimed, they do appear likely to suffer far less than the rest of us.

However, as a former New York ‘money lender’, you probably have a better understanding of this than I. The view from your ‘counting house’ must be clearer?

As to the death rate, so what? The Swedes have taken a pragmatic approach, and avoided ‘prolonging useless lives’ (PUL). Given their previous history of massive social spending on worthless welfare projects, I found this very encouraging. Perhaps they have finally “seen the light”.

Had we followed Sweden’s approach, particularly as regards PUL, we would be in far better shape than we are. Unfortunately sanctimonious piffle, coupled with draconian mantras have done for us.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

I am only comparing Sweden’s results with Swedish GOV policy objectives.

Mark Corby
Mark Corby
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Agreed, but even the Swedes are fantasists. In politicians it is axiomatic to be so.

The question is why are ‘we’ always so gullible? Why have the ‘shriekers’ got away with it?

For example what is currently going on in Melbourne?
SS Australia is an unpleasant sight is it not? And who would have thought the land of the ‘diggers’ could behave so poorly. Their political class should be treated “sine missione”.

Despite a little bit of hubris the Swedes have done well and deserve our congratulation.

David Slade
David Slade
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

I think your characterisation of Sweden’s policy as a failure is a little difficult to substantiate, and is dependent on the view that tackling covid is the only matter of importance in considering human health.

The knock-on effect of these draconian measures on peoples health (including risk of death or actual expedited deaths), livelihood and liberties has been catastrophic. The psychological terrorism on the country’s populace (in the UK and elsewhere), required to ensure compliance with such unprecedented measures has regressed people to archaic hysteria – often against their fellow citizens (‘non – mask wearers are killing granny’ etc,)

It may take a generation to put right the damage we have done (and allowed to be done) in the name of risk aversion.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  David Slade

“I think your characterisation of Sweden’s policy as a failure is a little difficult to substantiate,”
look at Sweden death rate (vs. Norway, Denmark, Finland) and compare it with the its own Gov policy. No one doubts its failure.

David Slade
David Slade
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

That probably says more about unrealistic expectations of public policy.

My point is more from a holistic understanding of human health and well being (including all-cause mortality); Sweden’s eventual outcome was certainly admirable and preferable to ‘zero covid’ policies.

By contrast we’re starting to see the cost of lock down in the UK and of obsession with stopping Covid (all cases, not just deaths/hospitalisations), by witnessing the widespread suspension of civil liberties and near contempt for human freedom across the world.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
2 years ago
Reply to  David Slade

If there was hysteria, it was largely generated by our irresponsible media (Piers Morgan, I’m looking at you). The Government responded to, rather than caused it and it certainly constrained its freedom of action.
Politics is the art of the possible. A laid back, Swedish approach to lockdown was simply not possible here in the atmosphere that prevailed in late March. We need to point the finger at the British character not the British Government.

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
2 years ago
Reply to  Mark Corby

Absolutely agree – Sweden has already achieved the herd immunity that our MSM is so spooked about – Also proved that Lockdown cannot save lives but only delay deaths – Amazing any further Lockdowns are even considered in the light of Sweden’s success especially as it confirms our masters original promise to Lockdown for 3 weeks so that deaths could be dealt with in an orderly manner – Somehow this has morphed into ‘defeating the virus’ with the compulsory Masks they insisted were pointless for 3 months – Wonder if this amusing spoof attached is nearer the truth and the Lockdown/Mask Up/Track/Trace/Isolate and be very afraid is to delay herd immunity so there will still be a purpose to a vaccine which could become compulsory as a forerunner to health passports – If they can keep the virus, which so far seems to be no more deadly than the flu, circulating for long enough it could mutate to start a whole new pandemic which would be great for the health industry but bad for the social and economic prospects of everybody else! //http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BPi...

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago

Really enjoyed this article until the last paragraph.

Sweden’s maverick approach to COVID 19 was far from the success asserted, it had one of the highest death rates, when calculated as per million of the population, in Europe. There was a travel ban on Sweden as a result.

Norway did the opposite, had a very tight lockdown, more severe than the UK’s, and had one of the lowest death rates per million.

Both these countries have less than 25 people per square kilometre.
The UK has 279.

I think the reduced economic fallout of the crisis for them is down to geography and size of population more than anything else.

Ray Nixon
Ray Nixon
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Have you heard the comparison with Sweden from a Norwegian perspective? https://www.youtube.com/wat

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

“I think the reduced economic fallout of the crisis for them is down to geography and size of population more than anything else.”
you are wrong.

Claire D
Claire D
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Unfortunately for you, contradiction is not an argument, it might make you feel better emotionally after reading facts that upset you but it does’nt do away with the facts presented.

David Slade
David Slade
2 years ago
Reply to  Claire D

Sweden recognised that a total suppression strategy was unsustainable and the collateral damage to human health – either directly or through economic damage – was not a price tag that could be paid ‘until we get a vaccine’.

The raw numbers may not be great next to their neighbours (though better than a lot of countries that locked down), but the pay off is less collateral deaths due to lockdown and a performance in raw numbers which is still a magnitude better than the dire predictions for them from the ICL model – on which the UK locked down.

Also, you should compare the population densities of the areas where people live in a country rather than the country as a whole – so Stockholm to London for instance.

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago

What a pointless comment!
Who doesn’t know about Viking expeditions in UK?
A few years back a TV program did a genetic test for a village in NE England. One older gentleman was exuberant when he discovered that he is of Viking descent.
A quote a Swedish friend of mine ” We are soo good looking because we kidnapped all the pretty girls and left the ugly ones behind”.

Lindsay Gatward
Lindsay Gatward
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

Love that ‘kidnapped the pretty girls and left the ugly ones behind’ hilarious because it is obviously true and exquisitely irritating to todays alphabet virtue signalling – Great to be descended from the Viking life!

Jeremy Smith
Jeremy Smith
2 years ago
Reply to  Jeremy Smith

eugenics = natural selection, pretty girls get all the attention.

Andrew Baldwin
Andrew Baldwin
2 years ago

This is a fascinating article. One specialist area where exchanges among the Nordic countries might be useful is in official statistics, particularly in the realm of price indices. The forums in which these are generally discussed: ILO, IMF, Eurostat and so forth, are dominated by countries that are not snow-covered for much of the winter, so they don’t see seasonal problems in the same way that the Nordic countries do. Of course other countries, like Canada and Russia, also have harsh winters. However, regrettably, neither Canadians nor Russians have the very useful Eurostat inflation measures like HICP and HICP-CT, which all the Nordic countries publish.
There is only one country in Europe now that uses the Rothwell formula (a seasonal-basket formula with annual base prices) for both its consumer price index and its output agricultural price index, and it is one of the Nordic countries, The Netherlands. The use of the Rothwell formula, or of other seasonal-basket formulas such as the Balk formula (named after its Dutch discoverer), should be much more general, and probably would be among the Nordic countries if they got together and discussed what they would do. Again, the only country that has ever had seasonal weights for clothing in its CPI is The Netherlands. Seasonal patterns in clothing purchases just don’t seem like such a big issue to a Greek as they would to a Norwegian.
The Eurostat regulations for seasonal goods in the HICP are dysfunctional and forbid the use of the Rothwell formula. However, there is no reason why Nordic countries couldn’t get together and develop their own rules for a Nordic standard for seasonal goods in a Nordic HICP, a supplementary series to the Eurostat HICP.
For the agricultural price indices, Eurostat already permits monthly expenditure weights for basically all agricultural categories, mandating them for fresh fruit and vegetables. However, most countries, including the UK, continue to calculate seasonal weights only for fresh fruit and vegetables, not even extending their use to horticultural products. Closer co-operation of official statisticians in the Nordic countries would aid in extending the scope of seasonal weighting in the agricultural price indices. It is regrettable that Christmas trees is not treated as a seasonal product in the UK output agricultural price indices. A Nordic forum would give UK statisticians a chance to talk with statisticians in other countries, Denmark for example, about how best to calculate a price index for Christmas trees.
A statistical exchange among Nordic countries would, besides the countries George named, ideally include Iceland and Belgium. Broader than that one would probably not want to go, or it would cease to be Nordic.