Cameron fooled no one at Beckham bash

With the World Cup almost upon us it was inevitable that senior politicians would jump on the publicity bandwagon.

Personally I feel Tony Blair made a very sensible decision when he turned down an invitation to the Beckhams' glitzy team send-off party last Sunday.

Cameron, a much less experienced leader, simply couldn't resist the lure of rubbing shoulders with famous footballers, and decided to go along with his wife Samantha, who clearly had more interest in the handbags than the England squad.

The problem is that the public aren't daft - they know too well that Cameron is trying to bolster his own standing. Transparent stunts such as this won't help his image with an ever more savvy voter.

Even worse, Cameron simply isn't a credible football fan. The Tory leader has mentioned the word football three times since he became an MP - most memorably on 15 October 2001, when he said of the football hooliganism debate: 'Many of those who have spoken in the debate or written about the subject are either lawyers or football fans, but I have to confess that I am neither. I am just a novice parliamentarian.'

Even if politicians are genuine football fans, I would advise them not to trumpet the fact.

Former Tory sports minister David Mellor never lived down the fact that as a candidate in Fulham, he said in his election address that he was a keen fan of the local club, only to start supporting Chelsea when they were playing well.

In Scotland it is fatal for politicians to support Rangers or Celtic because they immediately upset half their constituents. So in Glasgow last week I listened in disbelief when the new Scottish Secretary, Douglas Alexander, was introduced to an event as a St Mirren fan. I know for a fact that he has supported Rangers all his life.

For Gordon Brown, the football stuff is even trickier. He does genuinely love the game, but being Scottish, what does he do when England is the only home nation qualified for the cup?

Recently one newspaper wrote to all the Scottish MPs to ask who they would be supporting and the Chancellor was the only one to reply. I know Brown genuinely supports England, when they are not playing Scotland, because I have been with him at games, but such is our cynicism that no one believes him. He should just keep quiet.

So, when you next read that Cameron will be watching the World Cup with his kids, you'll know it's really a load of bollocks.

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