A wondrous row has erupted between two fat, middle-aged, uncouth, bearded geazers, one of them the British Minister of Education, and the other the Chairman of Chelsea Football Club. Mr Clarke is plugging a scheme to get sports clubs to help out with teaching the 3Rs to recalcitrant youth, and Mr Bates’ Chelsea are the only football club not to be cooperating. Mr Clarke slagged off Bates, and now Bates has been slagging off Clarke, pointing out that the British state education system is appalling and getting worse and he, Mr Clarke, should see to it instead of attacking defenceless football clubs.
I have dealt with some of the boring educational angles of this story in another place, but the interesting aspect is that Mr Clarke has now said that he wants West Ham to beat Chelsea in their forthcoming and crucial Premiership clash tomorrow. Or, to put it another way, he wants Liverpool and Newcastle (rather than Chelsea) to qualify for the European Champion’s League next year, and even more controversially, Mr Clarke supports West Ham in their desperate effort to avoid relegation, and accordingly he must favour the idea of one of the clubs above West Ham, such as Bolton, Leeds, or Fulham, getting relegated from the Premier League instead. Bolton, did you get that? I can’t remember a Cabinet Minister wading into sport like this. Supporting your own team in a new-laddish, post-modern sort of way is one thing, but to mix this kind of thing with serious politics is new, surely, and frankly rather unsavoury.
Since Ken Bates is making trouble for a politician, we here presumably all now support Chelsea against the abominable West Hamsters and the even more abominable West Ham support Clarke. And that’s quite aside from the Samizdata HQ being in Chelsea, and David Carr already being a Chelsea season ticket holder. I’m a Spurs man myself, that is to say, for the benefit of Americans, a supporter of Tottenham Hotspur. But Spurs are never involved either in trying to get into Europe or in being relegated because they come eleventh in the Premiership every year. Very dull. So by now I don’t care what they do tomorrow and am happy to swing into line behind Chelsea also. I’ll be keeping a close eye on the Chelsea game tomorrow and keep everyone posted. Go you … Chels?