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Watson and Doctor Who team up in Labour's first party political broadcast

Martin Freeman, the star of The Hobbit and Sherlock, endorses Labour in the party's first party political broadcast.

Martin Freeman is the star of Labour's first party political broadcast, which airs tomorrow night on BBC Two at 5.55pm, ITV at 6.25pm and BBC One at 6.55pm. The ad also features the talents of David Tennant, star of Doctor Who and Broadchurch. The full transcript is below:

Hello. Now we are in the run-up to a General Election and over that time you’re going to hear loads of claims from people on the Left, on the Right, all over the place. It’s going to drive you mad. It’ll probably drive me mad but don’t switch off yet. You see, because I think in the end it’s simple; it boils down to a choice between a Labour government or a Conservative one. But it isn’t just a choice between two different plans, two different ways of getting the deficit down. It’s a choice between two completely different sets of values. A choice about what kind of country we want to live in. And I don’t know about you, but my values are about community, compassion, decency; that’s how I was brought up. So yeah, I could tell you the Tories would take us on a rollercoaster of cuts while Labour will make sure the economy works for all of us, not just the privileged few, like me, but it’s not just about that. I could tell you it seems like the Tories don’t believe in the NHS while Labour is passionate about protecting it - among other examples, guaranteeing GP appointments within 48 hours and cancer tests within one week. Guaranteed.

But it’s not even just about that. I could tell you that the Tories have got sod all to offer the young whereas Labour will invest in the next generation’s education and guarantee – that word again – apprenticeships for them. I could tell you that Labour will put the minimum wage up to £8 and ban those horrible zero-hours contracts while the Tories would presumably do more of their tax cutting for millionaires. But, real though all that stuff is and important though it is if you’re young in this country, or broke in this country, or if you’re unwell in this country – and let’s face it we all need the NHS at some point – or if you are just plain working hard and finding life tough, there is a choice of two parts. The bottom line is what values are we choosing, because in the end this choice we make really does matter.

Labour. They start from the right place – community, compassion, fairness – I think all the best things about this country. I love this country so much and I love the people in it, and I think you do too, but really, for me, there’s only one choice; and I choose Labour.”

Stephen Bush is special correspondent at the New Statesman. His daily briefing, Morning Call, provides a quick and essential guide to British politics.

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Rarely has it mattered so little if Manchester United won; rarely has it been so special they did

Team's Europa League victory offers chance for sorely needed celebration of a city's spirit.

Carlo Ancelotti, the Bayern Munich manager, memorably once said that football is “the most important of the least important things”, but he was only partly right. While it is absolutely the case that a bunch of people chasing around a field is insignificant, a bunch of people chasing around a field is not really what football is about.

At a football match can you set aside the strictures that govern real life and freely scream, shout and cuddle strangers. Football tracks life with such unfailing omnipresence, garnishing the mundane with regular doses of drama and suspense; football is amazing, and even when it isn’t there’s always the possibility that it’s about to be.

Football bestows primal paroxysms of intense, transcendent ecstasy, shared both with people who mean everything and people who mean nothing. Football carves out time for people it's important to see and delivers people it becomes important to see. Football is a structure with folklore, mythology, language and symbols; being part of football is being part of something big, special, and eternal. Football is the best thing in the world when things go well, and still the best thing in the world when they don’t. There is nothing remotely like it. Nothing.

Football is about community and identity, friends and family; football is about expression and abandon, laughter and song; football is about love and pride. Football is about all the beauty in the world.

And the world is a beautiful place, even though it doesn’t always seem that way – now especially. But in the horror of terror we’ve seen amazing kindness, uplifting unity and awesome dignity which is the absolute point of everything.

In Stockholm last night, 50,000 or so people gathered for a football match, trying to find a way of celebrating all of these things. Around town before the game the atmosphere was not as boisterous as usual, but in the ground the old conviction gradually returned. The PA played Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds, an Ajax staple with lyrics not entirely appropriate: there is plenty about which to worry, and for some every little thing is never going to be alright.

But somehow the sentiment felt right and the Mancunian contingent joined in with gusto, following it up with “We’ll never die,” – a song of defiance born from the ashes of the Munich air disaster and generally aired at the end of games, often when defeat is imminent. Last night it was needed from the outset, though this time its final line – “we’ll keep the red flag flying high, coz Man United will never die" – was not about a football team but a city, a spirit, and a way of life. 

Over the course of the night, every burst of song and even the minute's silence chorused with that theme: “Manchester, Manchester, Manchester”; “Manchester la la la”; “Oh Manchester is wonderful”. Sparse and simple words, layered and complex meanings.

The match itself was a curious affair. Rarely has it mattered so little whether or not United won; rarely has it been so special that they did. Manchester United do not represent or appeal to everyone in Manchester but they epitomise a similar brilliance to Manchester, brilliance which they take to the world. Brilliance like youthfulness, toughness, swagger and zest; brilliance which has been to the fore these last three days, despite it all.

Last night they drew upon their most prosaic aspects, outfighting and outrunning a willing but callow opponent to win the only trophy to have eluded them. They did not make things better, but they did bring happiness and positivity at a time when happiness and positivity needed to be brought; football is not “the most important of the least important things,” it is the least important of the most important things.

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