by Martin Odoni

(Satire.)

(Well, sort of.)

(Actually, probably not.)

Today, we have seen one of the biggest, quickest, and most embarrassing u-turns by a Conservative Government of all time. It is a tragic reflection on the right-wing sympathies of the modern Labour Party that, despite their lip-service, the pressure causing the u-turn did not really come from Her Majesty’s Opposition.

First things first though, a big well done to Manchester United footballer, Marcus Rashford, whose intervention in the debate over free meals for children during the summer holidays proved dramatic and decisive. As a Liverpool supporter, I might be expected to withhold applause for a United player, but far from it, I am punching the air with him every step of the way. (I do tire of being a football fan sometimes, with the pettiness the rivalries generate.) Indeed, I will not only ‘big-up’ Rashford for the eloquent case he made, I wish to propose a radical change for the country with him front-and-centre; –

MARCUS RASHFORD FOR PRIME MINISTER

I am only half-joking. Okay, Rashford has no prior experience of politics, and you might imagine that there are a lot of far wider issues an MP would need to be able to familiarise themselves with before they were ready for such a role. But then you stop and think about it and realise that this is nonsense. How ‘familiar’ with any issue has Boris Johnson made himself, apart from defending statues? And yet he is Prime Minister already. Surely, after a year in which Johnson nearly destroyed the constitution, and then allowed a pandemic to take a death-toll double what was unavoidable, we must all realise that Rashford could hardly do a worse job.

And before anyone suggests superficial things, like Rashford “doesn’t look the part”, here he is in a suit. He looks rather dapper to me, and a breath of fresh air after 25 tiresome years of watching Johnson’s deliberately-messed-up hair; –

Rashford in a suit

Why not? Can he possibly do any worse than Boris Johnson?

Maintaining free school meals for vulnerable kids through the summer is really just a sensible, practical, and morally-sound idea. But Rashford realised that a lot quicker than the present incumbent of Number 10 did, so it is Rashford who is ahead of the narrative, Johnson some way behind it. Johnson has demonstrated in no uncertain terms that he is more concerned with protecting the statues of the dead than children who are still alive. This all proves what I say; Rashford could hardly do any worse.

And what also does this chapter say about Keir Starmer, the Leader of the Opposition, whom I was castigating over the weekend? Starmer’s ridiculous acquiescence to Tory policy – the latest being to back Johnson’s wish for ridiculously over-harsh penalties for damaging statues – has only allowed the Government repeatedly to get off the hook as it drags the country from disaster to disaster. Starmer has now hit a new low, as he watches a footballer in his early-20’s force the biggest u-turn out of the Conservatives since at least the ‘Dementia Tax‘ debacle at the 2017 General Election, just 48 hours after making his public intervention. In doing so, he has offered more effective Opposition than Starmer has provided since taking over as Labour leader!

So… if not Rashford for PM, then at least Rashford for LOTO. Again, being honest, when looking at Rashford and comparing him to Starmer, it is hard to believe the younger man could do any worse.

Now, I have never said this before and I have no wish ever to say it again, but Rashford might take an extra bit of pride in knowing he got a Liverpool fan to write this; –

Glory, glory, Man United.

There. I said it.

Ouch.