Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Cameron's new version of Tebbit's 'cricket test'

Maybe I'm wrong, but I don't think anyone's noticed an extraordinarily ill-advised joke that David Cameron made during his speech yesterday at The Times CEO summit.

According to 10 Downing Street, he said:

I have to say, she is one of the politest people I have ever met; every time the German – or, as I kept pointing out to her, mostly Turkish and Polish – players managed to slip another one past our lads, she would turn to me and say, ‘I am really very sorry.’
Imagine the uproar that would have ensued had the German Chancellor 'joked' with David Cameron that England's players were actually Dominican or African?

The quote which gave rise to Tebbit's infamous 'cricket test' moniker is: "A large proportion of Britain's Asian population fail to pass the cricket test. Which side do they cheer for? It's an interesting test. Are you still harking back to where you came from or where you are [sic]?"

Many people thought this was a highly provocative and unreasonable thing to say.  But under Cameron's new "football test" it seems that even when players are legally a particular nationality and are so patriotic as to choose to play for their country's national football side, their nationality, and by extension, loyalty, can be impugned, even if in jest, by a foreign Prime Minister.  And no lesser Prime Minister than our new, sparkling, "progressive" kid on the block, David Cameron.

I don't doubt that David Cameron is opposed to racism nor do I doubt his integrity (although many from my party would).  However, he needs to watch what he says after future long-haul flights, and he needs to have words with the person who proof-read his speech for not pointing out that what he said will be offensive to many Britons, whatever their ethnic origin.

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