Matt Hancock’s brain fade, mashing up Daniel Radcliffe and Marcus Rashford, is perhaps a timely warning of what can befall a politician who affects too easy a familiarity with sport and popular culture. With rare exceptions, pop culture and politics really don’t mix – especially association football.
Who can forget, for example, David Cameron’s excruciating confusion about which football team he “supports”. Having picked, apparently randomly, an historic Brummie club within easy reach of a clutch of Labour-Tory marginals, Aston Villa, he once tried to illustrate a point at a policy launch about cultural identity and Britishness with the line: “Of course, I’d rather you supported West Ham.” Apart from sharing club colours (claret and blue) and an occasional tendency to hang close to the Premier League’s relegation zone, the Hammers and the Villa don’t have much else in common. At any rate, Mr Cameron goes to see them rather less than does Prince William, a more devoted old Etonian follower of theirs.
Gordon Brown’s passion for third-tier Scottish champions Raith Rovers was genuine, but it did neither him nor the team much good. To their credit, neither Theresa May (who likes her cricket and Geoffrey Boycott) nor Boris Johnson feigned any love of the beautiful game.
Sharing the full story, not just the headlines