Alex Massie

Labour’s Political Football

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Elections really are pretty grim. Perhaps it's because I've been overseas for some of them (well, 1997 and 2005) that this one seems especially awful. First there's the rash of "celebrity endorsements"* which are themselves enough to make one abandon any remaining hope. I mean, if the Tories are "backed" by Ulrika Jonsson, John McCririck, Tony Handley and Jimmy Greaves how can any sentient person consider that an argument for the Conservative cause?

Then there's this latest election-gimmick from Labour: proposals** to "give" football supporters' groups a 25% stake in their club's shareholding. By give, of course, I mean insist.

Really, it's hard to know where to begin. But this is a) ridiculous b) pointless and c) pointlessly ridiculous. More importantly it's something that is a bad idea even if it were demonstrably a good notion. If supporters' trusts want to own a stake in their club that's their business and fine and dandy and all the rest of it. What it certainly is not is any legitimate business of the central government's. And when the govenrment decides it can interfere in the ownership of a mere football club it becomes clear that there is next to no area of human activity that's safe from governmental interference.

The importance of this issue, then, has nothing to do with football and everything with what it reveals about our politics and, for that matter, the miseries of election time.

*Though, gratifyingly, one has never heard of a good number of the so-called celebs.

**Will it ever happen, even if Labour do form the next government? Ah well, that my friends is a different matter altogether.

Written byAlex Massie

Alex Massie is Scotland Editor of The Spectator. He also writes a column for The Times and is a regular contributor to the Scottish Daily Mail, The Scotsman and other publications.

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