I’ve found politics particularly irritating recently. Then I realised why — it’s because it’s turned into football.
This is unfortunate. One of the (very few) areas in which I agree with our columnist Mr Grumpy is about the silliness of 22 grown men chasing a bag of wind around a field. I avoid football wherever possible, except the Radio 5 Live 606 phone-in, for the pleasure of hearing anguished fans call for the sacking of their manager when he loses one game in 23.
Obviously, Theresa May is the England manager.
Rather like any England team in the Euros, she’s optimistic that her plucky lads can go into Europe, take on their foreign opponents and come away with the result. And we all know how that ends.
The European managers are analysing our past performance and sniggering — we’ve opted out of the offside rule but still expect a fair game — while the rest of us know deep down that as soon as we get past the first round, team morale will collapse and we’ll be knocked out on penalties.
Mrs May, hoping to avoid being called turnip-head or a mad owl by the tabloids, is relying on other teams to do badly.
Marine Le Pen might score a late winner for France or perhaps one of the smaller European sides will drop the ball or something (it’s a vague hope) and give us the points we need to get through to the next round (where we will get thrashed) but Mrs May needs the hope to carry on as long as possible.
Donald Trump, on the other hand, is Millwall, 1970s vintage. Not even that: Donald is a specific Millwall fan. There was a famous Panorama about the Millwall hooligans, and it featured Harry The Dog — he may not have been called Harry The Dog, memories fade, but it’s entirely appropriate. Harry found himself marooned from his Neanderthal mates but decided to carry on regardless, and take on the entire opposition fans’ end. There was a shot of this one man with a mullet, Dr Martens and a Millwall scarf disappearing into a crowd and taking on 2,000 people all by himself. Obviously, he got a good kicking and probably had to be rescued by the police. A lesson for Donald there.
Millwall’s fans were famous for lobbing missiles at innocent people, invasions and ambushing officials; Trump’s team can even adopt the old Millwall chant: “No one likes us, we don’t care.”
Jeremy Corbyn is Dimitri Payet, who was in the news last week. According to West ‘Aam co-chairman David Sullivan, Payet had alienated all his team mates, sat in the corner of a room for his meals and isolated himself from everybody. Pretty much like being at the opposite end of the political spectrum to your colleagues.
“They wanted him out,” Mr Sullivan said of Mr Corbyn. Or maybe Payet, it’s hard to tell.
Migrants and all east European workers are clearly the ref.
Everyone hates the ref, even when it clearly makes no sense to do so. Whatever goes wrong, however bad a side’s performance, the ref always gets the blame. A bit like the Romanians.
I once had the good fortune to watch a football game at “Fortress Brit”. One of the Stoke players quite clearly lamped an opposition player in the head, and got a yellow card. I don’t know much about football but I know a punch (or at least a straight-arm tackle) when I see one; despite the obviousness of the foul, the home fans went incandescent with rage, bellowing abuse at the ref, questioning both his parents’ marital status and the wisdom of him making a visit to Specsavers.
Not only does everyone hate the ref, he’s also the most poorly paid man on the pitch and runs twice as far as the multibillionaires he’s trying to monitor. The very best he can hope for is not getting abuse. Referees’ organisations often say it’s very difficult to get anyone to do the refereeing job, particularly at the lower levels where the abuse is more, the glamour less and the pay non-existent.
Very much like migrants, then: coming over here, doing jobs no-one wants surrounded by people who are far better off and, at best, escaping with no abuse. And getting blamed for everything.
Then there are the professional fouls, cynically bringing a player down when he’s in the box and about to score. Politicians such as Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage use the professional lie to trip opponents up as they’re about to score, or least win an argument, the difference being that while footballers get sent off for a professional foul, politicians cheerfully admit on national television that they lied about £350m going to the NHS or the need for an emergency budget, and nothing happens.
At least there’s one difference between politics and football: we hold men who turn out and kick around a bag of wind to higher standards than the people who run the country.