A Third Way for football

24th January 2003 at 00:00
What is it with New Labour and football? Hardly a week goes by without some minister draping themselves in the colours of the beautiful game. But their desperate attempts to salvage some working-class credentials have brought some delightful humbug.

Tony Blair's reminiscences about a childhood spent at Newcastle's all-standing Gallowgate End were hard to beat, but our favourite was Peter Mandelson's unlikely claim that the one thing he would rescue from his burning home was his Hartlepool FC scarf.

Now schools minister David "Brains" Miliband has brought some trademark sophisticated analysis to the problems of declaring sporting allegiance.

Miliband, MP for the Tyneside constituency of South Shields, told a conference on Tuesday that he had been talking with Tony Blair about the dangers of declaring oneself a fan of a team in a region deeply divided between supporters of two teams. (On Tyneside, Sunderland and Newcastle fans do nothing to disguise their loathing for one another.) The solution? A typically Third Way one: commit youself to another, less contentious local team. So Miliband, who is in fact an Arsenal supporter, has become president of the tiny Northern League Division Two outfit South Shields FC, cleverly sidestepping hatred from either side. The boy will go far. South Shields play their distinctly Old-Labour-sounding neighbours "Shotton Comrades" of Shotton Colliery next Saturday. Watch this space.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today