Friday, October 21, 2016
Gary Lineker "needs to decide if he's a political activist or BBC sports journalist - he can't be both"
So said Alec Shelbrooke, a Tory MP who has hitherto flown beneath the radar of this blog, of Gary Lineker.
But he can be both. There are plenty of precedents.
The great John Arlott fought Epping for the Liberal Party at the 1955 and 1959 general elections.
Not only that: he was a regular panelist on Any Questions? which made him about the best known Liberal in the country before the party's revival under Jo Grimond.
A second member of the Test Match Special team, Alan Gibson, was a supporter of the Liberals. He fought Falmouth and Camborne in 1959.
And, as Andrew Hickey remined me on Twitter today, David Icke was one of the Green Party's principal spokespeople when he still worked for BBC Sport.
If Shelbrooke would prefer a right-wing example, he need look no further that Denis Compton.
While a member of the BBC's television commentary team for test matches he fronted the organisation Freedom in Sport, which sought to re-establish fixtures with Apartheid-era South Africa.
So Gary Lineker could certainly be a political activist and a BBC sports journalist if he chose. So far, of course, he has done no more than offer an opinion.