Unbend the truth like Beckham, Tony

*Bloggers* I am greatly heartened by your support. Here is my column:

To call it genius, frankly, is putting it mildly. When the nation sank back on the sofa last Saturday afternoon, and everyone rubbed the eye that had been accidentally punched by his neighbour’s gesticulation, and when the screams of delight had died away, we were left to contemplate the mental processes by which David Beckham, 29, was able to slot that second goal into the back of the Welsh net.

The rest of the animal kingdom must bow before him, because there is nothing else like it in nature. No dolphin jumping for a ball; no monkey hurling a nut; no archer fish catching a fly with his sputum dart – no other species can solve such a complicated, three-dimensional problem with such speed, and, of our own species, Beckham is the supreme exponent.

He was five or six yards outside the penalty box to the left; Welsh defenders were lunging at him, and yet – in a trice – he had sized up exactly how to strike that laminated sphere so that it moved in a gorgeous, uninterruptible parabola, describing the entire hypotenuse of the box, and arriving with such speed in the top right hand square foot of the goal that it left the keeper’s fingers flapping as uselessly as a dying butterfly.

Any biologist would be bound to concede that this was the human brain at its finest and most efficient.

He would also have to say, however, that there seem to be different types of cleverness; because if Beckham is in some ways cleverer than the cleverest rat or squirrel, he seems in other respects to be a few apples short of a picnic.

He does not, for instance, seem to have the surest grasp of logic, or the English language. Asked once whether he was a volatile player, he said: “Well, I can play in the centre, on the right, and occasionally on the left side.” Asked about his childhood, the England captain said: “My parents have been there for me, ever since I was about seven.”

And this week he had his supreme moment of tapioca-like density, when he decided to confess to a flagrantly cynical foul.

It was, on the face of it, quite a cunning dodge. Becks was already on a yellow card, following a burst of petulance in the Austria match. If he incurred another, he would be banned from the next match. He had just cracked a rib in the course of a collision with a Welshman, and – whirr, chunk – he had a brilliant idea.

If he could earn another yellow card now, he would be banned from a match he was going to miss anyway, cos of his broken rib. So – thok, crunch – bionic Becks cannoned into the same poor Welshman, picked up the second yellow card, and so removed the risk hanging over him from that first yellow card.

Fantastic! Alas, Beckham was so stunned by this chess-like piece of planning, that he could not help but boast: “I am sure some people think I have not got the brains to be that clever, but I do have the brains.”

Yes, David, you do have the brains. You have the brains of the average eight-year-old. Here we have the England captain, theoretically an example to the nation’s youth, admitting that he deliberately set out to foul a rival player, in order to execute a complicated dodge to do with yellow cards.

That is thuggery. For him to claim that this action shows his intelligence is a magnificently self-negating statement. One way or another, Beckham will pay a heavy price for his confession, and what makes it so ridiculous is that the derr-brain could have got clean away with it.

There was no way of telling, on the face of it, whether the foul was cynically motivated. We might have had our suspicions, but there was no way of proving it. All he had to do was keep schtumm.

In that respect, we must admit that there is a certain nobility in his sheer lack of cunning. Contrast Beckham, who is very good at foopbaw, but not much good at thinking, with Tony Blair.

Beckham draws the wrath of the nation upon him by confessing to a crime that no one else could possibly have identified. Instead of concealing his machinations, he moronically blurts them out, in the let-it-all-hang-out tradition of the foopbaw star.

Blair, on the other hand, has been convicted, in the eyes of all clear-eyed and moderate people, of a considerable deceit. A close reading of the Butler report confirms that, in no fewer than 28 ways, Tony Blair took the raw intelligence data that he was being fed about Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction, and hardened up the language so as to make the threat posed by Saddam sound more immediate, and to encourage his dispirited and lobotomised backbenchers to support the war in Iraq.

That is not a dereliction concealed in the mind of Blair; the great Butler action replay has revealed it to the ref, in the form of the British public.

All we want is for Blair to admit that he did it; all we want is that glorious gabbling moment of Beckham-like candour. All we want is for him to go on the telly, and say, yeah, well, I did exaggerate them things cos that was the best way of getting everyone in the Labour Party to support the war.

We yearn for this honesty, because it would clear the air, and allow us to close the subject, and get on with something else. And yet the sadness is that Blair believes he cannot possibly make such an admission, because that would mean that he had wittingly misled Parliament.

Our most cunning politician is locked in the prison of his dishonesty. Our most brilliant footballer has the honesty of the dunce, and his punishment will be over sooner.

Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2004. Terms & Conditions of reading.

27 thoughts on “Unbend the truth like Beckham, Tony”

  1. Brilliant article, Boris! I know nothing at all about football, and it STILL made sense!

    The problem with Blair is that he seems to believe that he is supreme, with an ego verging on Hitler-esque. He does not seem to understand the difference between right and wrong. Yes, Mr Blair, we know that you are not sorry for removing Saddam, and understandably so. No one is going to disagree with the fact that the world is a better place without him, but that is not the issue being discussed here. The issue is that he lied to Parliament, but he cannot and will not face it, and so he wimps out like the coward he is and deflects the argument back to the old world-is-better-without-Saddam thing.

    Mr Blair, wake up to the real world and stop fooling yourself. You were wrong. You lied. You made a mistake. Deal with the consequences.
    Whatever happened to democratic accountability?

  2. Honesty Boris, is the only policy in the end. The truth will always out. The sad fact for Tony Blair is that his lies have turned a great many staunch labour voters (like myself) into begrudging Consertatives. Michael Howard made so much sense with his common sense approach to politics speech last week at the conference that I think he has done the almost impossible and given The Conservative Party a real chance at the next election. I never thought I’d vote Conservative!

  3. The nearest example in nature of to the athleticism and dexterity of Beckham is the torius rigormortius, still found in pockets of rural England. This bizarre animal goes through convolutions barely believable to find a position that may make it electable. Having moved to the right because of the temporary popularity of the great she-boar, the tory party woke up one morning and found that it

  4. The nearest example in nature of to the athleticism and dexterity of Beckham is the torius rigormortius, still found in pockets of rural England. This bizarre animal goes through convolutions barely believable to find a position that may make it electable. Having moved to the right because of the temporary popularity of the great she-boar, the tory party woke up one morning and found that it�s natural home had been taken over by the Blair cuckoo, and it had nothing to offer anyone. New Labour or Conservative � as different as strawberry jam and raspberry jam.

  5. I can’t stand these people who repeat themselves.[Ed: good one Vicus!!! Just love your sense of humour – made me smile this morning. I do mean it this time despite previous allusions to the contrary…you must be turning me to your unique brand of insight – keep going]

  6. It’s a nice conceit to take the two men and contrast them.

    But, as for Mr Blair’s over-persuasion, as Charles Moore remarked in the Telegraph, if you’ve been taken for a ride do you really want to shout about it?

    The important thing is that Saddam had to go. That becomes clearer every day:


    At least it does to everyone who is not stuck in the negative posture of the knee-jerk leftist, for whom Britain and America will always be in the wrong whatever they do.

    And just how close do you want to sail to those people?

    People are even stating that the war was “illegal” and that Kofi Annan has said so. Well, hang on a minute: who are the UN to make law for sovereign nations?


    And who cares what Kofi Annan thinks? He’d do better apologizing himself – for the UN’s corrupt oil-for-food programme.


  7. To continue the footballing analogy, perhaps the best course of action in this instance is a knee-high lunge across the floor of the house at the New Labour captain during PMQs, followed by a plaintive appeal to the Speaker that you “went for the ball” as he shows the red card.

    It wouldn’t have any political purpose but

    a) it’ll be good for a laugh

    and b) the football hooligan vote will be well and truly tied up.

    I am not mad.

  8. Top column Boris! I think if Tony Blair was honest I would have some kind of surprise induced ceasure. I agree with what you say, if he had came out and just admitted he was wrong about what he did, and apologized, it would be better than struggling on in his vain lies, while the whole country knows that they were just that. The man is clearly unfit to rule…
    Oh, and nice description of the goal…

  9. Damian, I disagree. We were not given that as the main reason for war, we were given his threat to us, and his WMD, and his link to al-quaeda. All of which proved to be non existent. We were taken to war on lies.

    If the reason for the war was Iraq’s human rights abuses, I will expect that we will be invaiding The Sudan, China, Turkmenistan, North Korea, etc, imminintley. There shouldn’t be double standards.

  10. Unbending truth.

    Young Boris with his musings,
    The shadow-blogger king,
    His eye on art and culture,
    With Canaries taught to sing,
    He fends off every question,
    As every artist knows,
    The answer is inside us,
    Until set down in Prose.

    A politicians answer,
    Is not an act of thought,
    For policy preceeds it,
    By civil servants wrought,
    New furnaces of Odin,
    Make chipsets by the score,
    The email now the hammer,
    That bears the wrath of Thor.

    The open door to government,
    A firewall round the state,
    Policies delivered,
    And paid for on the slate,
    Initiatives are fleeting,
    And never born joined up,
    A pension should be worked for,
    But not a Golden cup.

    For those with final salary,
    Fill dead men?s gilden shoes,
    Subsidised by workers,
    The many feed the few,
    How socialist our leaders,
    Their pockets lined with silk,
    Are long and deeply hidden,
    How honeyed is their milk?

  11. Stirling work at the Union last night Boris. Cracking speech at a generally superb debate, congratulations for battling through illness to entertain the masses and put down the opposition benches in brilliant fashion.

    I was amongst the Labour-heckling group at the front of the ordinary benches, we immensely enjoyed your speech and that of Lord Lamont and your mate ‘Redders’.

    Great to see you around your old stomping ground again.


  12. “I will expect that we will be invaiding The Sudan, China, Turkmenistan, North Korea, etc, imminintley.”

    For my part I don’t expect that, Peter, and I certainly would not urge it. China, for example, is notoriouly brutal to its populace (though – these days at any rate – it hardly ranks with Saddam) but it is no immediate threat to its neighbours, is not a strategic problem for us, and it is not, unlike Saddam, funding terrorism – whatever the links here, we know he did, at any rate, hand out cash to suicide bombers. More to the point, it is a vast country with a massive population, an impressive military strength and nuclear weapons. Do you *really* think it would be wise to invade China? I’m aghast.

  13. Boris – A scouse blogger here. Tomorrow, I’ll be down to the newsagents to buy the ‘Speccy.’ When I read it, will I be getting mostly irritated ….. or will I just be wallowing in a soup of Liverpudlian Melancholia?

    Will The Spectator go the way of Billy Connoly and the Supa Soaraway Sun on Merseyside?

  14. Personally, I feel that this article makes a valid point. Firstly though, people need to understand that Liverpool is only being used as an example here because it is the most recent place in which this has happened.
    A recent study (I believe carried out on behalf of the Government) outlined the fact that as a whole nation we love to wallow in our own sadness.
    I don’t remember enough of the report to provide a full analysis, but it did give a few examples of this itself, in particular the death of Diana, and the murders in Soham.
    Sure, they’re not good circumstances in any way whatsoever, but the way people keep going on and on about them is just over the top, and quite frankly, gets boring after a while.

  15. The wider point on the nature of ‘popular grief’ may well be reasonable. But why the sideswipe to stereotype Liverpudlians in this manner? Was Boris actually in Liverpool at any point over the last few weeks? Certainly people were naturally concerned for Mr Bigley’s well-being, but I didn’t see any “extreme reaction” on the streets here. Was it not the London-based, London-centric media who focused so heavily on this event, constantly leading with it on news bulletins, splashing it on front pages? Or maybe rogue Liverpudlians temporarily commandeered the editors’ desks in Wapping, Canada Square and White City, so they could drag everyone else into their wallowing too. Perhaps Boris can confirm on this one?

    And don’t bother with the fact that “more than 300 people” [1] attended a memorial service for Ken Bigley at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral, while “over 1,000,000 people” [2] lined Diana Spencer’s funeral route – we all know which is the city with the “flawed psychological state”, don’t we? In fact, the crowds for Diana were probably all Liverpudlians on a day trip to indulge their “peculiar, and deeply unattractive psyche[s]”, right?

    On the subject of Hillsborough, where 50 fans died – uh, was it 50? 60? 90? anyway – maybe Boris should inform the former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Judge Peter Taylor, that the police were merely “a convenient scapegoat”, to quash his ridiculous notion that “the main reason for the disaster was the failure of police control”. [3] And yes, let’s not forget the Sun newspaper, which became a “whipping boy for daring… to hint at the wider causes of the incident”. Probably best to have a word with then-editor Kelvin MacKenzie then, Boris, who later told a House of Commons Select Committee: “I regret Hillsborough. It was a fundamental mistake. The mistake was I believed what an MP said. It was a Tory MP. [Oh, Boris, the irony!] If he had not said it and the chief superintendent had not agreed with it, we would not have gone with it.” [3] And don’t listen to The Sun itself, who this year described the article in question as “the most terrible mistake in its history”. [3] What would they know? They were just whipping boys, Boris! Exactly!

    Oh, and better have a word with that Michael Howard chap too, who seems to have just described your article as “nonsense from beginning to end”, [4] for some reason. The buffoon! What would he know? Don’t stand for it.

  16. Boris’s puddle of bother

    Has Boris stepped in his first muddy puddle? The Spectator’s editorial today highlights the “wallowing” pity Liverpudlians are currently in over the fate of Ken Bigley, and many consider the views are beyond the pale. Boris has always spoken his…

  17. Damian, on the contrary, I dont think we should invade China, but I am stating a point, if we are to attack people we should not have double standards.

    Iraq has not aggressed against its neighbours since the first Gulf War. We could have removed Sadaam then, but didnt. Since that point Sadaam was not aggresive apart from the odd pot shots at our planes which continued daily sorties above Iraq. Where are the grounds for invasion? He was by no means the worst regime in the world, why was he chosen? Why Iraq?

    Hmmm… perhaps because of location and economic value? Yes, Sadaam was evil. But so are so many others who the west does nothing about, in fact in some cases we are quite cordial. The whole ‘coallition of the willing’ are a bunch of hypocritical, arrogant, liars. I would have much more respect if they were just honest about it from the start, instead of making up loads of reasons. Sadaam Hussein was never a threat to this country.

  18. Well done Boris!
    We all know that the Hillsborough incident was caused by drunken Liverpool fans storming the statium after they had drunk the local pubs dry. At last you have had the courage to say it publicly. Maybe Liverpool’s mourning cult is to cover their guilt. The police in this country are often used as a scapegoat to avert guilt from others.

  19. “… on the contrary, I dont think we should invade China”

    Why say it then, Peter?

    “… but … if we are to attack people we should not have double standards”

    “Double Standards” that sounds lik,e a pseudo-moral stand. So morality here means we are morally obliged *not* to look at things in depth and *not* to consider all sides of a situation. We have to shut our eyes to differences. That’s kunacy.

    “… a bunch of hypocritical, arrogant, liars”

    Thank you – an excellent descrfiption of the anti-war left. And perfect for the pontificating politicians of France, Russia, and China. Yes it was “all about oil”: nice to do the bidding of a bloody-handed tyrant – even worse than Pol Pot says Ann Clwyd who has visited both Cambodia nd Iraq in the aftermath – and pocket millions of dollars of oil vouchers in exchange.

  20. “Why say it then, Peter?”

    Say it to prove a point. If we invade people on the grounds of human rights abuse China would be high on the list. As would many other places. If we are going to run around the world invading countries that infringe on their peoples human righst then we best hurry as we have a dman big list to get through.

    “to consider all sides of a situation. We have to shut our eyes to differences”

    What all sides of the situation? The arguments for invasion tabled at the time have been blown out of the water. No WMD. No link with Al-Quaeda. No threat to us. That leaves only one coherent argument for invasion, the argument the human rights abuse one. Therefore it is clearly hypocrisy to attack him and be cordial to other abusers. Its like hanging one murderer while inviting another to tea. Oh, and for the record, lets not pretend it had anything to do with the UN resolution, because Isreal is breaking more than any other nation in the world, but I dont see our armies built up on their borders.

    “France, Russia, and China”

    Yes, I never said they were all good and right, did I? Nope, I have no arguments if the allegations about the oil vouchers are true then those governments were completley wrong to do that.

  21. Boris said:We yearn for this honesty, because it would clear the air, and allow us to close the subject, and get on with something else.

    Rubbish – If Blair took the country to war on a false prospectus then an apology is nowhere near enough. The minimum should be his resignation in disgrace and preferably some form of criminal prosecution. I don’t know what the charge would be – (perhaps ‘incitement to violence’!) but he should not be allowed to escape unpunished.

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