Alex Ferguson once said ‘there are two things you can never change – the way you walk. And your football team.’ Now as it happens I think some people do change the way they walk. But football, bloody hell, no, you just cannot change the club you love.
So Fergie, despite all those years with Aberdeen and Manchester United, is a Rangers man. I am a Burnley man, waking today with the pain of yesterday’s missed penalty and subsequent defeat to Leicester having left another little scar on my heart.
I could no more forget that I support Burnley than forget the names of my children. I accept I am on the obsessive end of the market when it comes to football. Also there is nothing wrong with people who don’t really get football. I live with one of them and she to this day cannot really understand why I spend so much time and effort and money getting to Burnley games only to bring home the misery I brought home last night – just in time to see is all again on Sky Sports’ re-run, and then again on Match of the Day.
At least she doesn’t pretend. Like Tory ex minister Nick Soames who once berated me and asked ‘how would you feel if we passed a law banning Burnley fucking Football Club? Because that is how I feel with your stupid law banning me from hunting foxes!’
At least he was honest. Hate football love Foxhunting. There are lots of Tories like that and Soames, with the Churchill blood in his veins, is one of them. And honest enough to admit it.
David Cameron is closer to Soames than he is to me, in almost every way. But he cannot bring himself to be honest about who he is and what he stands for.
It has always been pretty obvious that his support for Aston Villa is phoney. That he almost certainly prefers the Eton Wall Game, the Boat Race, the Varsity rugger at Twickers, a spot of polo and a blast of tally ho, to ninety minutes stood on the Holte End.
He sprayed it on like fake tan because someone at Tory HQ thought he should.
And so what, you might think? Who the hell cares whether he likes football? Who gives a damn that he muddles up Villa with West Ham? Doesn’t he have more important things to worry about? Well hell yes, he does.
But just think about all the other things he muddles up.
The Big Society. That turned out to be a spray on load of nonsense too. Compassionate Conservatism. That was just a line to get through a campaign and then once he was in, ‘let’s get going George, it’s austerity time. Let’s help out our mates in the banks and the hedge funds and the Square Mile who caused the economic crisis, and let’s take it out on the poor. Remember? Like we did in the Bullingdon Club?’ Now that was a club he would never forget, nor his love for it because of the values flit espoused.
Then he got all muddled on the environment too, didn’t he? He flew to the Arctic. His team found a lovely new tracksuit and some beautiful huskies to take him for a ride. And then he took us for a ride with his claim that he would lead ‘the greenest government ever.’ Since when he has made not one single speech on climate change. Phoney green like phoney claret.
Muddled on Europe. In the heady days of 2010 as he air kissed Sarko and Merkel and the rest of them his team was Europe and he was going to be a central midfield playmaker, a bit like that old Aston Villa I mean West Ham legend Trevor Brooking. But then his nasty hooligans on the backbenches and those minxes from UKIP started to grab his coat tails and pulled him to the right wing, more Tony Morley territory. Leading in Europe became muddled with a pathetic pander to those people he once called nutjobs and fruit cakes who were now writing his foreign policy.
We have seen him getting muddled on the Union. Passionate about it – during the referendum. And now hellbent on breaking it by pitting England v Scotland, a few more years in Downing Street feeling secure in his sense of entitlement to rule more important than hundreds of years of a Union which has served us well.
I could go on and on and on. Not in the Thatcher sense. She at least believed in things and never pretended to get football which is why she once dressed in royal blue for a Celtic-Rangers match and why she made so many mistakes in the handling of Hillsborough and the Bradford City Fire.
But at least there was no pretence. It is the sheer 24 carat phoneyness of Cameron that was exposed yesterday as he muddled his claret and blues. And that phoneyness goes to character and it goes to policy and it goes to how he fights a campaign too.
Witness the synthetic fury over Ed Miliband’s foreign policy speech and the phoney claims that Ed was directly blaming him personally for the deaths in the Med. And then remember the disguising 2010 attacks he made on Gordon Brown – whose handwriting has deteriorated along with his sight – over the letters he sent to the families of troops killed in Afghanistan.
Like most Brits I have massive respect for Churchill. Like most Brits, though I hated a lot of what she stood for and what she did, I have a lot of respect for Thatcher.
I can’t really respect a man who pretends to be down with the people on the terraces when it is clear from the way he is conducting this campaign – avoiding people and debate like the plague – that he sees them as nothing more than an impediment preventing him from getting back to a bit of chillaxing at Chequers. But much much much more than that I cannot respect someone about whom even his closest advisers say that after five years in the job they don’t really know what I believes.
I do. It is a big round nought. Like the one on the score sheet at Turf Moor. We lost to the Foxes yesterday.
‘Moor? Foxes? Anyone fancy a hunt?’
‘No no no prime minister. Let’s at least wait until May the 8th.’
‘Oh yes. Forgot. Now where is my good luck card for Paula Ratcliffe? Just cut and paste the one we did for Mo Farah when we had those running races at the new Villa ground.’
‘It’s West Ham prime minister.’
‘Oh drat. Oh well. Now, good luck Paula you have been a fantastic ambassador for (fill in sport/throw in personal anecdote and if we can find something to say on policy, a bit of that too. Not too much though. I hate policy.’
Say what you like about Ed Miliband. But he does actually believe the stuff you hear him saying on the telly. That is not a bad start in a prime minister and the lack of such belief is why Cameron has been such a bad one.
Ps. Off to the Marathon now. Not running alas because the knees are not as they should be. But my son Rory is. He entered and started training less than a year ago and if all goes to plan he will get round around in around two hours forty. Which is one hour thirteen faster than my personal best. I will be giving him twenty five quid for every minute he is ahead of my time. If you would like to sponsor him too, in memory of Philip Gould, here is the link.
Meanwhile for heaven’s sake vote Labour so we can help Cameron spend a bit more time with his football clubs.
– final PS, if anyone rolls out the Tony Blair/Jackie Milburn story re the above, the reporter who started it all has long admitted it isn’t true.