by Paul Goodman
If political parties assail their opponents, they're accused of wasting time and money. (Or of getting the attack wrong.) If they don't, they're charged with not having lacking the will to win, not going for the jugular, failing to fight back, and so on.
Even so, Ivan Lewis's call yesterday for an enquiry into England's World Cup bid failure was a spectacularly inept call. He said –
"Despite the impressive efforts of Team England, supporters will be bitterly disappointed at England’s failure to land the 2018 World Cup. This follows on from the England team’s poor performance in South Africa. Serious questions have to be answered as to how we can learn lessons from these significant setbacks to build a better future. The Coalition and the football authorities should now set up an independent root and branch inquiry into all aspects of how our national game is run."
If we want to host the World Cup, the only lesson to be learned next time round is: censor the media and bribe FIFA officials. That, at any rate, is the media's judgement today. Rightly or wrongly (I think rightly: unambiguously so), David Cameron isn't shouldering the blame.
Which Labour must have thought yesterday that he might. Which is presumably why Lewis's press release was issued. My hunch is that it wasn't his idea, but was a "strategic decision", if there is such an animal in Unready Eddie's Labour Party.
But perhaps I'm wrong. Perhaps Lewis is in deadly earnest about the need for an inquiry. If so, we'll soon know – when Lewis suggests who should conduct the enquiry, Labour tables a Commons debate on the matter, Miliband raises it at Prime Minister's Questions…