David Parkin on election negatives and why football is all Greek to him

HOW do you sum up the election campaign?

As far as Theresa May’s Conservative Party goes, I’d quote my late grandfather.

Somebody who had lived, indeed served in the armed forces, during the First World War, whenever there was a crisis, or even a minor mishap, he’d exclaim: “It’s the biggest cock-up since Mons.”

He was referring to the first significant battle of the 1914-18 conflict when the relatively ill-prepared and under-strength British Expeditionary Force suffered defeat to the Germans near the Belgian city of Mons, close to the French border.

The Tories went into this election campaign in fine fettle, facing what looked, just six weeks ago, like lacklustre opposition from the Labour Party, having a 20-point lead in the polls and the benefit of the element of surprise in calling a snap election.

I’m sure that the Conservatives’ election campaign will be used as a case study by political students in the future.

Albert Einstein once said that the definition of insanity “is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”.

Well when are the Tories going to get that slagging off the opposition and focusing on the fear of what they might bring doesn’t win votes?

It didn’t work in the last election for London Mayor and it didn’t work for David Cameron in last year’s referendum on whether we should remain in the European Union.

So why do it again?

Theresa May looked a safe pair of hands when David Cameron jumped ship just over a year ago.

What none of us knew then was that she clearly can’t cope with questions from opponents, the Press or even from the public, going to extraordinary lengths to avoid interviews with journalists and ducking the opportunity to debate major issues with opposing politicians.

When she called this election I thought it a masterstroke.

She’d picked the timing, had a more than 20-point lead in the polls and faced, what looked then, like a Labour Party led by Jeremy Corbyn in disarray.

But like a boxer who has won the first 11 rounds of a championship bout, she perhaps got over confident going into the last stanza and took a punch which left her reeling on the ropes.

They call it showboating in boxing, when a fighter dances around the ring flicking out punches at what he thinks is his beaten opponent, not just trying to win, but making the other boxer look bad in the process.

But sometimes that over-confidence sees them get tagged by a determined and still unbowed opponent

Well Theresa May is no showboater, she just doesn’t have the personality for it, but she has taken a punch on the chin.

It remains to be seen whether it will result in a knockout.

Her election campaign, which started from such a strong position, has not just been a shambles, but disgraceful.

And the British public likes nothing more than giving politicians who they don’t respect a bloody nose.

Whatever the final result of this election is, I hope that the one thing that does emerge from it is that politicians learn that focusing on negatives will rarely deliver a positive result.


I’VE just returned from a two-week holiday island-hopping around the Cyclades in Greece.

I did a similar trip 25 years ago when I was a student.

The difference is that I didn’t take a backpack this time.

Well, l learned then that you can’t comfortably pack a silk dressing gown and cravat in a rucksack: they crease terribly.

Now, like then, I went to Ios, the backpackers’ equivalent of Ibiza in the Greek islands.

Fortunately the party season doesn’t start until mid-July, when the nightclubs open their doors at 2am and nobody goes to the beach until mid-afternoon.

I couldn’t cope with the hedonism then, so God knows how I’d fare now.

One thing I did want to do while I was away was to watch the Championship Play Off Final.

I asked the hotel manager if there was a bar that showed football matches on TV.

He said yes, which one did I want to watch?

I said Reading v Huddersfield.

He asked me to spell the teams for him and he would make enquiries.

I gave up when we got to the ‘d’ in Reading.

Deciding to find a venue myself, I wandered the streets going into several bars.

I’m good at that.

Finally finding one with a TV, I chatted to the owner, a woman called Pam from Porthcawl who had married a local when she visited the island 30 years ago.

I decided not to mention Shirley Valentine.

She assured me she could find the match on TV.

I settled down with a beer outside.

Pam appeared a few minutes later.

“I can’t find the football match you want but I have got a re-run of Saturday’s FA Cup Final, will that do you?”

I ordered another beer and sadly missed one of the biggest days in the recent history of Huddersfield Town.

If, as a football fan, you are allowed to have a second team, then Huddersfield are mine.

I was a student in the town and thanks to the generosity of the club and its supporters, have been back many times to watch matches.

I’m truly delighted that the Terriers will be representing Yorkshire in the Premier League.

What I hope is that commentators resist the temptation to refer to “plucky little Huddersfield”.

This is a club with a storied past in the top division of English football.

Indeed it won the First Division title three times in the 1920s.

Whatever happens next season, Huddersfield Town will work hard, compete with a smile and fly the flag proudly for Yorkshire while being watched by the billions who follow the Premier League.

They might not have heard of Huddersfield in certain parts of the Greek Islands, but they will do soon.

Have a great weekend.


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