Andy Burnham has stolen a significant march on his rivals for the Labour leadership – in the currently not very strongly contested race to gain supporting nominations from England’s returning World Cup team.
Liverpool captain and sometime Rio Ferdinand replacement Jamie Carragher is backing Burnham as the man to lead Labour back to power – watch it over at his website.
So what does the Carragher endorsement say about Burham’s campaign? Obviously, Burnham’s is going for an everyman pitch so it all makes sense there. Perhaps it also burnishes Burnham’s claim to be the man to transcend tricky political divides and Blair/Brown factionalism: an Evertonian being endorsed by a Kopite.
But might it also reveal a judgment issue? It was posted on his site on 16th June – after USA but before Algeria – perhaps showing an ultimately misplaced optimism that at that stage, things could only get better.
Now that the squad have been smuggled home under the cover of darkness and players are cancelling public appearances for fear of reprisals from an angrily disappointed nation, perhaps other campaigns are feeling that the once coveted Wayne Rooney endorsement doesn’t carry the same political clout as it once did.
So it remains to be seen whether other candidates will follow.
David Miliband attempts a slightly clumsy world cup theme in a New Statesman piece on Labour in England; as an Arsenal fan he might get more mileage out of a ‘told you so’ Theo Walcott endorsement, since the dropped winger has an alibi for England’s South Africa debacle.
Ed Balls showed commendable loyalty to ex-Norwich keeper Robert Green after the first game, but may not feel a joint public appearance would now add to his reputation as a safe pair of hands on the economy.
I’m not sure where Ed Miliband stands on his constituency home team of Doncaster Rovers. Despite being a Lincoln City fan, I once saw Donny at Belle Vue get an 8-0 Coca-Cola Cup drubbing at the hands of Nottingham Forest; this was in their League 2/Conference days, so their current enjoyment of Championship status might provide a compelling recovery narrative for Labour.
All in all though, Diane Abbott's stated policy of not joining in the football chatter is probably the most sensible strategy.