Thursday, May 26, 2005

The bandwagon starts creaking

Our primary activity today will be monitoring the Irish newswires for signs of Bertie Ahern's Road to Athenry conversion to being a Liverpool fan, but the gang of Insta-Scousers already includes current and former French Presidents and the Mayor of Paris. In a last grab for optimism (apparently the BoBW endorsement not being enough), the Yes campaign in France's EU referendum has declared that Liverpool's stunning comeback in Istanbul last night is a harbinger of their fortunes. For instance, former President and Constitution author, Valery Giscard d'Estaing:

"Yesterday evening, up to the last five or ten minutes of the match, it was AC Milan that was ahead," Mr D'Estaing said. "This morning in the opinion polls everyone is saying 'Milan' [No] is going to win. Well I think it is going to be 'Liverpool'. "Voting 'No' would be to score a goal against France, author of the constitution and the European project, a goal against Europe."

While allowing for the ever-present possibility of mis-translation, we suspect that Valery was actually reading Voltaire or doing whatever it is the French elite does on a Wednesday evening, because his account of the match is off. Liverpool had already equalised with half an hour left of ordinary time in the match.

It's also funny that for a campaign that seeks to promote a more European-leaning France, any delicacies of foreign diplomacy are being jettisoned. Consider that if Jacques Chirac hasn't already supplied the nascent UK 'No' campaign with the slogan "daughter of 1789," then d'Estaing certainly has with the declaration "Voting 'No' would be to score a goal against France." Those Zidane goals from last year still hurt!

Similarly, Valery shows no regard for the bruised feelings of AC Milan owner Silvio Berlusconi in making the team from the Euro-sceptic country the good-luck charm of his Yes campaign. Nor for the last politician to hitch his electoral fortunes to the team: Tory leader Michael Howard.

UPDATE: Michael Howard writes of his joy at 'Pool's win, and draws almost no political implications, in Wednes Friday's Times of London.

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