Tag Archives: Greg Dyke

Football is stuck in a racist 1960s timewarp

The current UK General Election has similarities with that of 1964 – an unpopular Old Etonian Prime Minister against an opposition people don’t trust (in 1964 the party today the opposition leader) . One difference is that in 1964 the “big two” UK parties – Conservative and Labour – won all but 9 of the 630 seats so although the result was close – Labour won 13 seats more than the Conservatives – we still had single party majority government as Labour had a majority of 4 – if the gap between the two parties is the same on May 8th a hung parliament with no overall majority is a dead cert as other parties will easily win more than 13 seats.

One big difference is that there will be no seat where race will be an issue. In 1964 there was. Although Labour won the election the Conservatives gained four seats against the tide. Two of them – the very marginal Eton and Slough and Perry Bar – might have been because of racism but the Conservatives in those seats did not make an issue of race. But shamefully in one seat they did: Smethwick.

Smethwick is a town in the Midlands which in 1964 had seen an influx of non-white immigrants. Racists stirred up trouble by using the slogan “if you want a nigger neighbour vote Labour*” The Conservative candidate Peter Griffiths denied using the slogan but shamefully did not condemn those who did.  But the campaign had an effect. Griffiths gained the seat from Labour on a swing to the Conservatives of 7.2% (for a comparison the Great Britain swing to Labour was 3.2%). To give an idea of how strongly people felt about this result here are two reactions from the BBC TV coverage of the 1964 results – both given just after the Smethwick result was announced.

Ian Trethowan said :”Well this is the fateful single result of this election. A Conservative gain which in their hearts maybe one they preferred not to get because they must have got it through the white backlash”.

David Butler added : “The Conservative candidate fought a very lone wolf campaign there rather shunned by his own party.. and on a largely racial platform completely defied the national trend”.

Even former Conservative MP Lord Boothby called the result – a gain for his own party remember – “disgraceful”. And new Prime Minister Harold Wilson said of Griffiths:  “He is a parliamentary leper”

After the result Smethwick got nasty. Old women were saying on TV “send them all back on the next banana boat”. Smethwick’s Conservative council suggested renting council houses in Marshall Street only to white people and the US  Black Power leader Malcolm X visited Smethwick in February 1965 claiming that black people in Smethwick were being treated like the Jews under Hitler. Black families had petrol bombs put through their doors.

And then suddenly Smethwick came to its senses. In February 1966 the Conservative council that had proposed bringing apartheid to the streets of the UK was voted out of office. The next month – because Labour only had a majority of 2 – Prime Minister Wilson called a snap general election. On March 31st 1966 Labour regained Smethwick. Griffiths and his racist policies were swept into oblivion. Smethwick is now part of the Warley constituency has had a Labour MP since 1945 (apart from the shameful 1964-66 Griffiths episode) and no one will take notice of it as it is a certain Labour hold at this year’s election.

But there is one part of society that is stuck in a 1960s racist time warp. It won’t surprise any one to know it is football. Last month FA chairman Greg Dyke produced a plan suggesting clubs should field a certain number of “home grown”(ie English players). He is blaming foreigners for English football’s problems. Griffiths blamed foreigners for Smethwick’s problems in 1964.The sad part is that Dyke – a former Director-general of the BBC – was a supporter of Tony Blair and thus one presumes of Labour’s non racist immigration policy. So a decent man has been brainwashed by racists into supporting their point of view (as were Smethwick’s usually Labour supporting voters).

What should be done? Anybody who supports home grown quotas in football should be banned from football for life. Five former England managers came out in support of the plan. All should be banned for life. So should former Italy coach Arrigo Sacchi who came up with this horrid remark – football’s equivalent to “if you want a nigger for a neighbour…” He said:

“While watching the Viareggio (youth) tournament it seemed to me there were too many black players”.

Peter Griffiths would have approved. Shameful. And remember Athletic Bilbao who refuse to sign non Basques  – in effect they won’t sign black players. Peter Griffiths would have approved.

The UK – and European – governments should insist that football clubs should be forced to select players only on merit. Nationality colour (and indeed  gender) should not be an issue. Any club which refuses to do this should be thrown out of football – good bye and good riddance Athletic Bilbao – and any player official and manager who disagreed should be arrested and thrown into prison.

The sad fact is that if Peter Griffiths was still alive – he died in 2013 – he would find much to approve of in the attitude of people in football to foreigners. That is shameful. And must change.

*I’m only mentioning that slogan to show how nasty the Smethwick campaign was. I know it is offensive. I feel the same way.

Don’t let the FA fool you. They are still as sexist as ever

Quiz question: Which organisation has banned its own fans from buying tickets for its own national team – even though the game was not a sell-out? The answer is of course, the FA.
The background is this. The FA arranged a match between England’s women and Germany’s women for tomorrow. The game is at Wembley – the first time England’s women have played at the new Wembley*. When ticket sales reached 55,000 the FA banned people from buying tickets because of work on the tube. So in theory an innocent mistake. The FA had simply underestimated the support the NWT had (they had set an attendance target of 30,000). The English cricket board did something similar during the 2005 Ashes where they put 20,000 tickets on sale for the last day of the Third Test – and had to turn 10,000 people away and the police told thousands more not to bother trying .
However that is not backed up by one fact and one coincidence. The FA must have known the women’s game would be popular. The England women, in their guise as Team GB** had an attendance of 70,000 when they played Brazil at Wembley during the 2012 Olympics – and the Final got 80,000. So that rules out the “the underestimation theory”. And there is a sinister coincidence here. Before last Saturday’s game with Slovenia, the biggest attendance England’s men had got at Wembley this season was 55,990. Remember the women’s attendance was capped at 55,000. Too big a coincidence. The FA capped the gate to stop the women beating the men. Sexist. And pathetic. And it allowed James Gill to write in the current issue of Radio Times, the BBC’s TV listings magazine (page 60) that “it might not quite match the number who got behind Team GB during the Olympics”. But he must know that is because the gate was capped. That event happened at the start of this month. Who is to say they wouldn’t have got 70,000? Or even 80,000? We were never allowed to find out.
This game comes at the end of another horrific week for football’s attitude to women. Convicted rapist Ched Evans (I mentioned him in an earlier post) last week was allowed to train with former club Sheffield United at the request of the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA). Needless to say it caused uproar, with patrons resigning and popular UK athlete Jessica Ennis-Hill asking for her name to be removed from a stand at the club’s home ground. The club quite rightly backed down – but co-chairman Jim Phipps dug a hole for himself by saying it was “mob rule” that forced the club to change its mind. No idiot, It was public opinion. We live in a democracy and have every right to express our disgust at the idea of a rapist playing professional football. The PFA don’t get it either. They think Evans should be allowed to join another club. NO. If he was a teacher he wouldn’t be allowed near a school. I bet you Dave Lee Travis, Rolf Harris and others jailed for sex crimes won’t be on UK TV ever again (the BBC don’t show 1970’s “Top of the Pops” repeats that DLT hosted). And UK Home Secretary Theresa May quite rightly banned controversial “pick up artist” Julien Blanc from entering the country because what he says is sexist and might encourage violence against women. If he can be banned from the UK for opinions that might cause sex crimes then surely Ched Evans can be banned from football for life for committing sexual abuse.
And to put the tin lid on it a sexist, racist and homophobic man is back in employment. Malky Mackay (another one I’ve mentioned before) is Wigan’s new manager. When Wigan’s MP Lisa Nandy dared to question this owner Dave Whelan said “our MP, I don’t think she has been to a football match. I don’t think she went to watch Wigan at Wembley”. So what? An MP has every right to comment on anything to do with their constituency. But football has this arrogant “we know best” mentality and thinks no one outside of football should have an opinion on it. Since the appointment Whelan has made racist and anti-Semitic comments to a UK newspaper and the FA might charge him. He – and MacKay – should be banned for life.
And what is the FA doing? Nothing. Chairman Greg Dyke has said the Evans affair is “no important issue” in an awful TV interview on BBC 2’s “Newsnight”. Both Dyke and former FA chairman Lord Triesman have attacked FIFA over its corruption – but not its sexism. Not a word has been said by the FA on FIFA’s sexist decision to make women play the 2015 Women’s World Cup on artificial turf. Why? They couldn’t give a toss.
The FA are, in effect, using the England NWT for propaganda purposes to convince the country they are not sexist. But they are. An organisation that is not sexist would ban Evans, Phipps, Gordon Taylor (chief executive of the PFA), MacKay, Iain Moody (MacKay’s sidekick in the text scandal) and Whelan for life. Then we will know that the FA are not sexist (or racist or homophobic). But until then don’t let the FA fool you. As blogger Jason Burke Murphy put it (in a comment on “The Sport Spectacle”) “proving that the English FA are sexist is like shooting fish in a barrel”. He’s right. The FA are as bad as they were in the 1970s. In fact they are worse. The one thing worse than a sexist is one who is a sexist but tries to deny it. And that sums up the FA perfectly.
*Some in the UK press say its their first game at Wembley but England women played at the old Wembley in 1990.
**Apart from the excellent Kim Little (a Scot) the GB team who played Brazil were English.