Sunday, 26 April 2015

Aston Ham? West Villa?

Who cares?!

Obviously, fans of both Aston Villa and West Ham will care.  But does it really matter which team David Cameron supports – if any?

No, of course it doesn't.  But the news of the Prime Minister, who says he supports Aston Villa, mistakenly claiming to be a West Ham fan in a moment he describes as 'brain fade' has gripped the nation.  Labour supporters have seized upon this with glee – Cameron doesn't even know which football team he supports!  Apparently, this makes the Tory leader 'a fraud' or a 'con man'.

What utter rubbish!

The trouble is, when it comes to things like football, politicians in the UK are in a no-win situation.  We (the electorate) supposedly insist that our politicians be 'normal' and 'everyday' enough to be football fans.  Can you imagine the reaction if a Conservative party leader simply came out and said he wasn't a big football fan, and it just wasn't really his thing?  Opponents would jump on this confession as evidence that he doesn't understand ordinary people; that he's out-of-touch; that he's 'posh'; that he can't be possibly be fit to be Prime Minister.

So, politicians who aren't that bothered by football have to pretend to be into it.  And that is then held up as evidence that they are posh, out-of-touch, and don't understand ordinary people.  And it also backfires on politicians who genuinely do like football (or Game Of Thrones, or Nandos, or any other aspect of modern popular culture) because people assume that they're being insincere charlatans who are only saying they like those things to appear 'normal' and win more votes.

Either David Cameron is not a football fan, but feels compelled to say his is because the fetishisation of 'normal' in politics won't let him be himself – or is actually is a football fan, but people still sneer at him for it because they assume he's putting it on to seem like a 'man of the people'.  He can't win.

Ultimately, it doesn't really matter which football team the Prime Minister does – or does not – support.  This whole episode simply serves to distract from what the real focus of an election campaign should be: policies.  But it also demonstrates how our obsession with politicians being 'normal' is so much of what is wrong with politics in the UK.

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