Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Referees, authority and David Mellor

I am writing this listening to Arsenal vs Manchester United. Like all good Chelsea fans, I am hoping for a draw.

The commentators are saying that the players and both benches are yelling at the referee every time he makes a decision. This typifies our modern inability to submit to any authority at all.

I am reminded of David Mellor and his successful attempt to reinvent himself as a populist football pundit on BBC Radio Five Live. He did two things. The first was to do affect an estuary accent - rather like Tony Blair on Richard and Judy. If you had heard Mellor broadcasting on classical music in his normal voice Radio 3, and then doing his football show on Five, you would not have realised it was the same person.

The other thing Mellor did was to acquire some attitudes that he thought would appeal to the masses. Chief among these was contempt for referees. The most one-eyed fan ringing in to complain his team had been robbed was sure of a sympathetic hearing.

If former Tory cabinet ministers have no respect for figures of authority like referees, what chance is there that anyone else will? This supports the claim I made the other day that Conservatism no longer exists as a political philosophy in this country.

Richard Sennett's Authority is supposed to be a good discussion of the subject from a left-wing point of view. I borrowed it recently from Leicester University's library, but some bastard recalled the book before I could read it.

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