The British economy is like Wayne Rooney. No, no, I’ve got one: the Labour government is like the Flower-pot men. Oh hell, this could get very depressing.
As I write this, the Sky helicopter is hovering above Downing Street, hoping to catch every moment of Gordon Brown’s scintillating four-minute drive to Buckingham Palace and trying presumably not to crash into the ITV and BBC choppers. I’ve never been clear why we need these expensive aerial shots . . . you may not like the prime minister but he’s not OJ. Is someone worried he might suddenly make a dash to the airport fly to Algeria and seek political asylum?
But if the TV coverage is juvenile, it appears to have caught the mood. There seems no other way to explain the level of campaigning meted out to us on Easter Monday. I, like many of you no doubt, was enjoying the last day of peace before the official opening of hostilities, and came home to catch two Tory officials standing inside giant hobnail boots and wearing Brown and Darling facemasks on the evening news. It was rather like an episode of Bill and Ben gone wrong. The boots were standing perilously close to a small green shoot. Can you see what it is yet? Yes children, Labour is threatening to stamp on the green shoots of recovery. Naughty Labour party. Incidentally, George Osborne was posing in front of the boots. Did no one tell him this would make him the Little Weed?
Meanwhile Gordon Brown was also attempting to make the issues nice and simple for us dumb folk. It turns out that the economy is like Wayne Rooney. The PM explained patiently that the economy is struggling to get fit just like Wayne Rooney. He hurt his leg and he’s recovering, but if we make him pay too much tax he may not recover in time for the World Cup. No, hold on that can’t be right. I’ll get there; oh yes he’s still recovering and so he needs to be nurtured with a National Insurance tax rise so that it gets better. Doctors all over the world espouse the healing powers of a National Insurance rise.
Er, no that can’t be it. No, it’s far simpler than that children. You see Wayne is broken, like our economy, but if we are careful and nurturing he’ll get better. But the Tories won’t nurture him so we’ll have to play Peter Crouch instead.
It is a standard of this government that there is no finer metaphor, simile or proof of general good-blokeiness than being able to discuss football. This is the Alastair Campbell/Charlie Whelan school of politics. Remember Tony Blair practising his headers with Kevin Keegan, or all the stories of Team Brown sitting around eating pizzas and watching football (at Geoffrey Robinson’s luxury penthouse). You may be a total economics nerd and public policy wonk but hey, as long as you can roll out a footie simile you must be a good guy.
So it’s probably best not to get too hung up on the parallels. Just understand that Labour wants Wayne Rooney fit for the World Cup and the Tories don’t. The Tories would lose the World Cup and then give it to their rich mates in Belize. Labour understands football, like you do, whereas David Cameron is probably off playing polo or the Eton Wall Game.
As Labour once noted. Things can only get better.
The Armchair Election will be following the campaign from the vantage point of the ordinary consumer of this contest, viewing it on television, laptop and other media.