David Cameron and Gary Lineker. Photo: Andrew Parsons/Conservative Party via Getty Images
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Are you a footie follower or a fan? Take this quiz to find out

Pencils at the ready - Hunter Davies has prepared a simple test to split the fakers from the true fans.

Fans have changed, these past two decades. Well no wonder, with the price of tickets. The middle classes have arrived, and the followers of fashion. So what sort of fan are you? OK, pencils out, your chance to score...


A) They have a jolly hard job and I’d never criticise them.
B) Only human, but they do make mistakes, so we should be allowed to boo.
C) Wankers, all of them.


A) Terrific plus for English football.
B) Something nasty about him, but he’s clever and does amuse me.
C) Piece of scum, in charge of the Scum.

Foreign Players

A) Have vastly improved the quality of our game.
B) There should be a quota to allow our young lads a chance.
C) Send them all home – but not from my team.


A) I always have a prawn sandwich.
B) I take my own guacamole and rye bread.
C) Pint and a pie.


A) They’re the world’s elite, it’s a short life, they deserve all they can get.
B) There should be a cap, it’s just obscene.
C) Don’t give a French fart, as long as we win.

Ronaldo or Messi?

A) Both geniuses – we’re lucky to be living at this time.
B) Ronaldo is a poseur, Messi the real thing.
C) I’d have Ronaldo’s baby, if he’d join us.


A) I have been known to wear my Arsenal bobble hat.
B) Always wear my team scarf, but basically it’s capitalist exploitation, wouldn’t you say?
C) Me and the wife have the full home kit, and the away kit, and she wears her knickers with a cockerel on the front – if we win.


A) Personally I always thought a handshake was quite sufficient.
B) Yes, celebrating is understandable, but in moderation.
C) Not being allowed to take their top off? Diabolical. I think they should take everything off and show us their tackle.

My Team

A) Arsenal, for my sins, ever since our son Harry started at Highgate.
B) Man United, though living in Stokey means I can’t make many games.
C) West Ham born and bred. The rest are scum.


A) No Sky, I’m afraid, but my wife and I always watch MoTD with a nice whisky. Highlight of our week, actually.
B) Just BBC – if it’s on Sky, which I hate, I go to the pub with the lads.
C) Every bleedin’ channel, costs me a bleedin’ packet.

Best Bits

A) Just to see a good game, actually. It’s football I like, rather than one team.
B) My team winning, regardless of how they play. It’s cathartic.
C) Chelsea/Man United/Man City getting stuffed.

Who’s Going To Be On Top?

A) Of what? Sounds exciting.
B) Some greedy, nasty, foreign-owned club with loads of money.
C) We should have been, but for the feckin refs/ injuries/ stupid manager/cheating Chelsea bastards.

Who would you go to bed with?

A) David Beckham – wouldn’t everyone?
B) With whom, you mean. Arsène. The conversation would be excellent.
C) Wayne, for his looks, har bleedin har.

Which player would you like as prime minister?

A) Joey Barton – a real philosopher in charge at last.
B) Russell Brand – a revolutionary. Shame he’s West Ham.
C) John Terry – legend, leader, which is more than you can say about this poxy lot.

Which team does David Cameron support?

A) They’re in claret and blue, or is it claret and burgundy? Both jolly good drinks, actually.
B) Old Etonians, of course, who else?
C) Leave it out! At this time of the season my bleedin’ brain’s faded.


If you mostly ticked:
A) You are middle-class, middle-aged and boring.
B) Younger, with a good 2:1 and a beard.
C) True fan. 

Hunter Davies is a journalist, broadcaster and profilic author perhaps best known for writing about the Beatles. He is an ardent Tottenham fan and writes a regular column on football for the New Statesman.

This article first appeared in the 01 May 2015 issue of the New Statesman, The Scots are coming!

Rex Features
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Keir Starmer: “I don’t think anybody should underestimate the risks of getting Brexit wrong”

The former director of public prosecutions is now heading up Labour’s response to Brexit. But can he succeed in holding the Tories’ feet to the fire?

Early in his new role as shadow Brexit secretary, Keir Starmer was accused of being a “second-rate lawyer”. The gibe, in a Commons debate, came from none other than Iain Duncan Smith. Starmer was director of public prosecutions for five years and later stood for parliament in 2015. No novice, then. Within a few days, Duncan Smith stood again in the House, this time to offer his apologies.

A fortnight later, I met Starmer at his quiet office in Westminster. He was sitting at a table piled with papers, in an office that, a discreet family photo aside, was unadorned. He had just got back from a whirlwind trip to Brussels, with many more such visits planned in the weeks ahead.

Starmer returned to the shadow cabinet after Jeremy Corbyn’s second leadership election victory last month. “The series of agreements we will have to reach in the next few years is probably the most important and complex we’ve had to reach since the Second World War,” he told me.

Starmer, who is 54, took his time entering politics. Born in 1962, he grew up in a Labour-supporting household in Surrey – his father was a toolmaker and his mother a nurse – and was named after Keir Hardie. After studying law at Leeds University, he practised as a human rights barrister and became a QC in 2002. In 2008, after varied legal work that included defending environmental campaigners in the McLibel case, he became the head of the Crown Prosecution Service for England and Wales as well as director of public prosecutions, positions he held until 2013.

When in 2015 Starmer ran for a seat in parliament to represent Holborn and St Pancras in London, it was assumed he would soon be putting his expertise to use in government. Instead, after Labour’s election defeat under Ed Miliband, he served as one of Corbyn’s junior shadow ministers, but resigned after the EU referendum in June.

Now, he is back on the opposition front bench and his forensic scrutiny of government policy is already unsettling the Conservatives. Philippe Sands, the law professor who worked with him on Croatia’s genocide lawsuit against Serbia, says he couldn’t think of anyone better to take on the Brexiteers in parliament. “It’s apparent that the government is rather scared of him,” Sands said. This is because Starmer is much more capable of teasing out the legal consequences of Brexit than the average Brexit-supporting Tory MP. Sands added: “It would be fun to watch if the stakes weren’t so very high.”

Starmer is a serious man and refused to be drawn on the character of his opponents. Instead, speaking slowly, as if weighing every word, he spelled out to me the damage they could cause. “The worst scenario is the government being unable to reach any meaningful agreement with the EU and [the UK] crashing out in March 2019 on no terms, with no transitional arrangement.” The result could be an economic downturn and job losses: “I don’t think anybody should underestimate the risks of getting this wrong.”

If Starmer seems pessimistic, it is because he believes time is short and progress has been slow. Since the referendum, disgruntled MPs have focused their attention on the final Brexit settlement. Yet if, as he argues, the starting position for our negotiations with the EU is wrong, the damage will have been done. MPs faced with a bad deal must either approve it or “risk the UK exiting the EU without a deal at all”.

It is this conviction that is driving his frantic schedule now. Starmer’s first month in the job is packed with meetings - with the representatives of the devolved nations, business leaders and his European counterparts.

He has also become a familiar face at the dispatch box. Having secured a commitment from David Davis, the minister for Brexit, that there will be transparent debate – “the words matter” – he is now demanding that plans to be published in January 2017 at the earliest, and that MPs will have a vote at this stage.

In his eyes, it will be hard for the Prime Minister, Theresa May, to resist, because devolved parliaments and the European parliament will almost certainly be having a say: “The idea there will be a vote in the devolved administrations but not in Westminster only needs to be stated to see it’s unacceptable.”

In Europe, Starmer said, the view is already that Britain is heading for the cliff edge. It was May’s pledge, that after Brexit the UK would not “return to the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice”, which raised alarm. And among voters, there is “increasing anxiety” about the direction in which the UK is moving, he said. Even Tory voters are writing to him.

In the Labour Party, which is putting itself back together again after the summer’s failed coup, immigration remains the most vexed issue. Starmer told me that Labour had “earned a reputation for not listening” on the issue. Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show shortly after becoming shadow Brexit secretary, he said immigration was too high and ought to be reduced. But later that same day, Diane Abbott, a shadow cabinet colleague, contradicted him, publicly criticising immigration targets.

Starmer believes there is a bigger picture to consider when it comes to Britain’s Brexit negotiations. Take national security, where he warns that there are “significant risks” if communications break down between the UK and the EU. “Part of the negotiations must be ensuring we have the same level of co-operation on criminal justice, counterterrorism, data-sharing,” he said.

Crucially, in a Labour Party where many experienced politicians are backbench dissenters, he wants to reach out to MPs outside the shadow cabinet. “We have to work as Team Labour,” he stressed.

It’s a convincing rallying cry. But for some MPs, he represents more than that: a lone moderate in what can be seen as a far-left leadership cabal. Does he have any ambitions to lead Labour? “Having had two leadership elections in the space of 12 months, the last thing we need at the moment is discussion of the leadership of the Labour Party.” He has agreed to serve in the shadow cabinet, and is determined to stay there.

Starmer has found his purpose in opposition. “If we think things aren’t going right, we’ve got to call it out early and loudly. The worst situation is that we arrive at March 2019 with the wrong outcome. By then, it will be too late.”

Julia Rampen is the editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog. She was previously deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

This article first appeared in the 27 October 2016 issue of the New Statesman, American Rage