Iain Dale presents the evening show on LBC Radio and the ‘For the Many’ podcast with Jacqui Smith.
The reaction of the Government to the proposed creation of the European Super League was interesting on a number of fronts.
Boris Johnson is not known for his love of the beautiful game, and no one seems to know if he even supports a club. So why was he so quick out of the traps in publicly condemning it? Two words. “Oliver” and “Dowden”.
Being Culture Secretary is often a bit of a thankless task. You can make worthy speeches, but actually making meaningful changes is often quite difficult in this Cabinet job. It has its compensations, I suppose – lots of invites to cultural and sporting events, but it’s usually regarded as a stepping stone to better things. Most culture secretaries are fairly short lived in the post, lasting less than two years on average.
Dowden has slowly established himself as not only a safe pair of hands, but someone with a good political nose. He quickly realised that the formation of the ESL would be a massive threat to the structure of our national sport, and made sure the Prime Minister was on board with the need for some fairly strong language condemning the move, and threatening governmental action if it were to go ahead.
It was an issue which united politicians on all sides of the Commons, and all sides of football. Fans, players, pundits and administrators were all singing from the same hymn sheet. When Arsenal and Tottenham fans are saying the same thing, and being nice to each other, you know something is very wrong.
Some might suggest that a free market supporting Conservative government has no business interfering with private sector businesses, acting in their own interests. Purists might see something in that argument, but in the real world, practical politics comes into play. It was clearly an anti-competitive move by the 12 clubs, and would have undoubtedly ended up in the courts.
Within 48 hours the whole things had collapsed with Andrea Agnelli blaming Johnson. Apparently, the ESL would have threatened Brexit. Err, OK….
I think its collapse was probably inevitable but with the UK government threatening a legislative bomb, players confronting their boards and fan protests starting to proliferate, the writing on the wall was there for all to see.
Dowden saw a political opportunity and took it. And it’s something that many football fans will remember.
Expect him to get a promotion in the next reshuffle.
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Eve Collishaw is someone you won’t have heard of unless you follow Norwich politics very closely. I first met her on the campaign trail in Norwich North in the 1983 general election. She has stood in every local election in the city more or less every year ever since. In the mid noughties she finally achieved her aim and won seats on Norwich City Council and Norfolk County Council, serving for seven and 12 years respectively. She even became the 100th Lord Mayor of the City in 2010.
Eve was a dedicated Conservative and without her, at times, the whole Conservative organisation in Norwich South might have collapsed. She gave her time, money and much of her life to the Conservative cause. She died yesterday at the age of 76.
We became very good friends, so much so that I got to hear of rumours that we must be having an affair. Hardly! She was one of life’s characters. She could at times be a difficult friend being very outspoken and at times abrasive. But she would always be there in times of difficulty and she was by my side throughout my ill-fated campaign in North Norfolk in 2005.
Around ten years ago we had a bit of a falling out, and have not been in touch much since, apart from the odd email. When I was told about her death on Wednesday, I reflected on that, and felt incredibly guilty. That sense of guilt was even more intense when I was told that she would still listen to my radio show and devour my books and speak fondly of me to others. I’m so sorry I never got to say goodbye.