Thursday, 3 November 2016

Theresa May's display of Synthetic Poppy Outrage


It's November so it's become customary in Britain to observe displays of synthetic outrage about poppies and remembrance. If it's not some TV presenter or football player being hounded by the right-wing press for the "crime" of not wearing a poppy, then it's bizarre displays of manufactured outrage about the leader of the opposition supposedly not bowing deeply enough at the Cenotaph.

2016's display of synthetic poppy outrage has taken things to a whole new level of fact-averse hypocrisy.

On the vary same day that Theresa May was challenged by Jeremy Corbyn about how the "monstrously unfair" Tory benefits sanction regime had led to an ex-serviceman dying with no food in his home, she decided to jump on the synthetic poppy outrage bandwagon and start whining about the decision to uphold the rules and prevent players from wearing poppy armbands in an England vs Scotland World Cup qualifying fixture.

One of the first things to note is the way that Theresa May's abject indifference to the appalling plight of David Clapson utterly contradicts the whole meaning of the poppy. If she demonstrably doesn't give a damn about the appalling death of an ex-serviceman, how can she possibly snap into synthetic outrage over the poppy symbol?

Is it really the case in Theresa May's Britain that symbols and flags and banners have so much more importance than actual human beings?

Another thing to note about Theresa May's display of synthetic poppy outrage is the sickeningly xenophobic tone of her anti-FIFA rhetoric over this poppy debacle. It's another example of right-wingers utilising the "how dare these pesky foreigners tell us what to do?" trope that proved so successful during the woeful EU referendum debate.

The massive glaring problem with this "how dare they?" mentality arises if we actually take a look at who actually draws up the rules of football, including the rule banning the display of political symbols during international football fixtures.

It only takes a very cursory bit of investigation to find that the rules aren't drawn up by FIFA at all, but actually by a body called the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

It turns out that IFAB is made up of four representatives of FIFA and one member each from the four British football associations (England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland). So that's 50% of the votes for British football officials, and 50% of the votes for the rest of the footballing world combined!

Given that it takes a 75% majority decision to introduce or amend a rule of the game, it's absolutely beyond doubt that British football officials approved the rule to ban political symbolism from international football fixtures, which makes Theresa May's xenophobic "how dare these pesky foreigners tell us what to do?" rhetoric look more than a little bit thin.

When you have a massive unfair advantage in any situation, it's normally a sensible policy to keep pretty quiet about it if you want to keep your unfair advantage. Theresa May and the right-wing press in the UK have an alternative strategy, which is to make as much xenophobic noise as possible, and draw as many people's attention as possible to the massively unfair advantage that the four UK Football Associations have over the rest of the world when it comes to amending the rules of the game of football.

When Theresa May whined to parliament that FIFA should "get their own house in order", perhaps she meant that they should scrap IFAB and replace it with a more democratic rule-making body that removes the massively disproportionate influence of the four UK Football Associations? Perhaps she's so fair-minded that the idea of the UK having such a hugely disproportionate advantage over the rest of the world makes her sick to the stomach? Perhaps that's why she chose to make such an enormous song and dance about this particular issue?

Presumably this wasn't what she was thinking. Presumably Theresa May is entirely ignorant of how the rules of the game are actually drawn up and the huge advantage enjoyed by the four UK Football Associations, and she was simply hoping to win some brownie points from the right-wing press by stoking up yet more xenophobic anti-foreigner sentiments.


Theresa May is a shocking hypocrite for brushing off Jeremy Corbyn's question about the appalling death of an ex-serviceman, then putting on a xenophobic display of synthetic poppy outrage on the same damned day. How can she care so much about a symbol, but be so callously indifferent to the suffering of one of the very people that symbol is actually meant to represent?

Additionally Theresa May proved just how ill-considered her display of synthetic poppy outrage was by wittering on about it in parliament. By getting a bunch of politicians harking on about the issue in parliament she proved exactly what FIFA were saying in the first place, which is that the poppy is a political symbol, and that it shouldn't be allowed due to the rules that were drawn up by the UK dominated football rule-making body.

Theresa May is clearly an intense hypocrite who values symbols above human lives. She's a fool who doesn't give a damn about learning the absolute basics of what she's opining about, and worst of all she's intent on stoking the nasty xenophobic fury of tiny-minded right-wingers in order to fuel her own popularity.



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