Magazine article The Spectator

Liverpool Is an Enigma Wrapped in a Conundrum Inside a Butty

Magazine article The Spectator

Liverpool Is an Enigma Wrapped in a Conundrum Inside a Butty

Article excerpt

Anyone interested in how politics affects the wider world, and vice versa, should read in Hansard not Commons exchanges on, say, the economy or foreign affairs, but on 'Culture, Media and Sport'. Culture, media and sport, and what politicians think or do about them, today affect our lives more directly than the economy or foreign affairs. There is now an entire Whitehall department named after the three influences.

People who do not read sports pages would not have known that this week Liverpool once again threatened Britain. Manchester United visited Liverpool to play Everton. But it was covered in Hansard's report of Monday's Culture, Media and Sport question time. The most famous living Liverpudlian, the suitably repellent Wayne Rooney, had defected from Everton to Manchester United. For various Evertonian Liverpudlians, etiquette demanded that this should be observed with a riot. They attacked Manchester United supporters.

At Culture, Media and Sport questions, Mr Kilfoyle, a Liverpool Labour Member, intervened. He is one of the half-dozen or so great living backbenchers. But he still has to sit for a Liverpool seat. Thus he protested to Mr Caborn, the minister for sport, that part of the blame for the latest Merseyside tumults could be ascribed to the BBC. It had wanted to televise the match live from 5.30 p.m. This allowed the hooligans to spend the afternoon drinking. Mr Caborn replied that we may have to 'revisit the subject' of late kick-offs, 'particularly for matches that have some problems attached to them'.

Mr Simon Hoggart, the Guardian's parliamentary sketchwriter, deployed his incomparable command of both the formal and the demotic against Mr Kilfoyle's intervention: 'Quite why the BBC and the FA should be blamed because a bunch of Liverpudlians were pissed and violent, he did not explain. But I think in view of events, it might be an idea for the population of the city to come south and apologise to Boris Johnson.'

Mr Hoggart was thus in the line of those few journalists who supported Churchill in the 1930s. He is one of a little band who see eye to eye on the need for Britain to re-arm against Liverpool - the Borisians. Mr Michael Howard can still act between now and the general election, or indeed just after it if he wins, and bring Boris into the War Cabinet. Otherwise history might well doom Mr Howard to be the Neville Chamberlain of the Scouse threat.

Meanwhile, in the wilderness, Boris broods at his own Chartwell - The Spectator. As these locust years pass, it is Mr Hoggart's sad duty to bring him word of the latest Liverpudlian aggression: Cilia Black to get a new television show, Rooney to appear in a fashion shoot. The loyal journalist will seek reassurance from the old warrior: 'Is there still time, sir? Can Britain yet rouse herself?' Even Boris will have his moments of despair: 'I fear not, my dear Hoggart. No act of appeasement can sate the ambition of Herr Rooney. Mr Howard will not listen. For him, Liverpool is an enigma wrapped in a conundrum inside a butty. He has no knowledge of abroad.'

But such despair will be fleeting. Events will prove Boris right. When the Liverpudlian threat can no longer be denied, the nation will turn to him. Boris back in power as shadow arts minister . …

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