Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Politics: The New Football

As this nonsense is still churning along, I'm off for a meeting with all London companies affected tomorrow. As such, things may be a trifle quiet around here ... you lucky things, you.

Before that, although Mark Reckons, Charlotte Gore and Salty have all written eloquently on the subject, a little thought on the Daily Politics shambles today. No, not Chris Mounsey, I'm talking of Andrew Neil's odd view of politics.

Apart from an irrelevant attack on Mounsey's writing style, Neil's main contention appeared to be that the Libertarian Party have no right to be in the political arena because they only have 450 members.


Now, there's a comparison bouncing around my head here, that of the similarity between politics and football. No, seriously, bear with me.

One irritating aspect of football in recent years has been the 'big club' mantra. Leeds are a 'big club' so 'deserve' to be in the top flight; Newcastle are a 'big club' so 'deserve' to be in the Premiership; Manchester City are a 'big club' and 'deserved' to be at the top of the football pyramid even when they were lounging in League 1, or Division 2 or whatever it was called at the time, silkily passing the ball into row Z.

Why? Because they have loads of fans, of course. They may have been playing like a team of men with one gammy leg for a season or many, but they 'deserved' to be at the top simply for the fact that lots of people paid to watch them.

It's poppycock. They deserve fuck all until they prove it on the pitch. Scoring goals, I always assumed, is what entitles a club to an elevated standing in the league, not how many bums can be planted on seats.

By the same token, little Wimbledon didn't deserve their 15 years in the Premiership, not a year of it. How impudent ... they only had about 5,000 fans and kept irritatingly scoring goals and beating teams who had the right to turn them over on size of following and bank balance alone.

So, how has football panned out? Well, we now have a top division whereby you can just about predict the top four at the start of the season. Those with the biggest support have a huge cheque book, and with the advent of the Champions League, and the massive rewards for the same teams year in, year out, new entrants are arguably excluded for the long foreseeable future.

This is, apparently, Brillo's view of politics. Don't bother until you can boast tens of thousands of members. Try to increase your membership with, say, a rare appearance on a BBC show, and viewers are directed away from you in favour of one of those 'big parties'.

Who cares what policies are being proffered (nothing inspiring from any of the big boys) as long as they have plenty of support.

What a vacuous helmet Brillo is.

As football has increasingly become a financial competition (there is an interesting article of how economics affected English clubs in the CL here), so has politics become obsessed with Lord Ashcroft, Lord Paul, Michael Brown and Simon Wheeler.

As the modern football approach is to build a team around an impenetrable defence, so is politics as the turgid nature of the manifestos we have seen this week illustrates all too clearly. Nothing adventurous, or crowd-pleasing, just an inhibiting terror of conceding an own goal.

I would argue that football enjoyed its heyday in the rough and tumble of the 70s and 80s, with characters aplenty, entertainment, and competitiveness that made our leagues, and FA Cup, the envy of the world. Much as politics was a hotbed of personalities, starkly drawn ideals, and positive attacking policies during the same era.

Andrew Neil's appalling attitude to the membership of a new party merely emphasises that the environment of dreary politicians, and insipid, uninspiring policies is here to stay.

Never mind the quality, look at size of our bank balance and membership stats.

Charlotte Gore reckons Brillo is a dinosaur. I beg to differ, he is actually at the cutting edge of political mentality in our country. And don't it make you want to weep?


Anonymous said...

Oh, Brillo *is* a dinosaur and I'm going to have to write a blog post to explain why now. Grr! ;)

Christopher Snowdon said...

Never mind. There's always this to laugh at.

Dick Puddlecote said...

CG: Dare ya!

Snowdon: Glad you posted that, I was tempted. ;-)

Zaphod Camden said...

Well, hopefully we'll have a large vote for "others" in this election and a hung parliament... and then another one in the election after that... and the political pundits in this country may start to realize there's more than the established parties in town. The much lauded debates are going to be 3-way debates after all, so maybe the process has started already. Now we just need to get people to take the fourth, fifth and sixth parties seriously.

Continuing the football analogy, it took a very long time for automatic promotion between the league and the Conference to become established, but it did eventually happen - despite the knockers and the vested interest - because it was felt newcomers deserved a chance to prove themselves. Hopefully we'll see that in the political arena too, and soon.

Frank Davis said...

In favour of Brillo, he is a smoker. Or was, the last I heard. Cigars, I believe.

On the other hand, he's a fully paid up member of the professional scribbling classes, who are feeling very threatened by bloggers who gaily write stuff for free and press the publish button. How galling! Particularly when newspaper sales are falling. So of course Brillo is going to lay into DK and any other blogger he can. There's professional pride at stake.

JuliaM said...

Perhaps the domination of rhe political scene by the Big Boys is the reason for the decline in the number of people who bother to vote?

Give them an alternative, and maybe we'll see some changes. Not overnight, no. But in a few years time, who knows?

Gordon the Fence Post Tortoise said...

On the topic of sport and politics I think it's worth reminding folk that this ain't new, no siree...

The Romans / Byzantines had their coloured chariot racing factions / political parties:

Juvenal (~2000 years ago):
“Long ago the people shed their anxieties, ever since we do not sell our votes to anyone. For the people—who once conferred imperium, symbols of office, legions, everything—now hold themselves in check and anxiously desire only two things, the grain dole and chariot races in the Circus”

Plus ca change eh?

Perhaps they should bring back chariot racing for London 2012 - it'd beat F1 hands down.

Yeah, I'd pay per view for that.

I think though, that you can definitely add 'Stenders and Corrie to bread and circuses

JJ said...

Since he does or did once smoke, how come forensic cross examiner to the politicians - Brillo - has never once mentioned the 2005 smoking ban manifesto pledge that was never honoured?