Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Cleverball, surfball and New Labour grandees

London 1958: Boys play cleverball in the street

Last night David Miliband mystified the nation. Interviewed on Newsnight about the refugee crisis he said:
I don't think this is about hardball or softball, it is about cleverball.
Yet Miliband 1 is not the first New Labour grandee to invent a new sport.

In December 1997 Peter Mandelson told a puzzled House of Commons:
The contents of the millennium experience, the dome, will attract people of all ages, although I suspect that playing surfball, the 21st century sport, will have an especial appeal to young people.
If you visited the Millennium Dome and don't recall being offered the chance to play surfball, that is because it never existed.

The following June he had to tell the House:
The serious play zone, to which the hon. Gentleman refers, will include explanations of the world of sport and games in the 21st century. It will cover the sort of 21st century game for which the term "surfball" was an illustrative title.
But maybe cleverball does exist. Not only is there the photograph above, but it may still be known in North London back gardens.

Could it be that the Miliband brothers played it when young and that David always won? Could it be that this provoked such resentment in Ed that he later stood against him for the Labour leadership.

If so, the game of cleverball may haunt Labour for years to come.

Thanks to @AmIRightSir for reminding me of the name of Mandy's sport. Follow him at once.

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