It’s hard to imagine the Danish prime minister, Helle Thorning-Schmidt, getting flummoxed by a question about which football team she supports (it’s Brøndby by the way), just in case she put off some voters.
Danish politicians don’t really go in for ingratiation. They have spin doctors – that’s true – but to advise them on policy. It’s a safe bet nobody’s ever told the left-wing leader to leave her Gucci handbag at home or drag her kids out of private school because it might win her some votes. Danish politicians are unrepentant about who they are – just look at Lars Løkke.
Cameron the chameleon
British PM David Cameron, on the other hand, is a man of many faces: toff, lad, pin-up, cheeky schoolboy, caring voice of the nation – it depends who’s listening. But he probably even surprised his alter-egos last month when he incredulously admitted to supporting a football team, only to retract his admission hours later.
Now, while most Danes would have raised an eyebrow and pressed on with observing the serious issues being discussed in the election, being a fickle football fan is an unforgivable sin for many Brits. In fact, I’d hazard a guess that elections have been lost on a lot less!
After all, didn’t Bill Shankly once say that football was “more important” than life and death. And he was pretty much God. So what on earth was going through Cameron’s mind, barely a week before the May 7 general election? The following is an explanation of what might have happened.
Surely he’s a villain?
It all started with a question from the crowd: “Prime minister! Oi! Over ‘ere! Oo d’ya support mate?”
“Who do I support? (thinks) Well, myself obviously you scruffy looking idiot! I know who you support: ill-educated children on social benefits probably. Now I’m sure I know this one, but … where did they say I was again? Somewhere in London judging by the dreadful cockney accents all round me. Well, I suppose I might need their support. If the worse comes to worse we might need this UKIP rabble to cling to power.”
East Harm, prime minister.
“East what … oh bother, I’m running out of time. This is taking too long, and my smile is probably beginning to look a bit thin. Come on David, be decisive! That’s what the people want. They want leadership! That’s it, I know they play in claret (would love a glass right now) … concentrate David… claret and blue shirts … Got it!”
“My dear fellow, I support West Ham United!”
A gaffe worthy of Big Ron
A few hours later, Cameron’s team then realises he doesn’t support them, but another team that play in the same colours.
“Er no, actually I support Aston Villa! I must have been overcome by something … this morning. But there we are, these things sometimes happen when you’re at the stump.”
The pundits were quick to throw in their two pennies’ worth. Piers Morgan, an Arsenal fan, prophesied: “This has to cost Cameron the election, surely? How can anyone ‘forget’ which football team they support? Unforgivable.”
Former Aston Villa manager Ron Atkinson was a little more understanding. “He’s obviously got confused with the team colours,” he said. “But as long as he gets his own team over the line.”