Insulting our intelligence

English football supporters are famously anarcho-communist.

And where would we be without progressive terrace manifestos?

It’s all about the politics, see. The Observer told you that weeks ago.

And that’s why you have to applaud the Southwark Lib Dems, for latching onto the Hamlet’s popularity, and trying to commandeer some of the club’s appeal for their own political purposes. It’s what any proper Hamlet fan would do.

Alright, retracting the claws, there is some merit to what Ben Maitland and the Liberal Democrats in the local area are saying. It would be churlish to dismiss their arguments blithely. Anybody arguing against property developers building expensive luxury flats, and building on green space, is worth listening to.

The Lib Dem’s website has this to say, beneath this in no way opportunistic snap of Ben and Simon Hughes, watching Dulwich:

libdems

Local Liberal Democrats are proud to support Dulwich Hamlet, and will fight alongside fans and residents to ensure that Dulwich Hamlet has a ground and facilities that guarantees its future and reflects the club’s ambitions, growing fan base and importance to the local community.

In the rest of the article it is obvious that their primary concern is campaigning to prevent Green Dale being built on. That in itself will be lauded as a worthy campaign by many (presumably the Lib Dems believe so, at least), and the party should be honest about its genuine concerns, rather than indulging in transparent bandwagoning.

Anyway, back to the above quote. What is meant by “Local Liberal Democrats are proud to support Dulwich Hamlet”? What precisely does that support consist of, I wonder, beyond turning up for a photo opportunity at a well publicised game, where a large crowd was likely?

It would be interesting to know how regularly Ben attends games. If he does often show up to support the club, that’s great. I hope he does, because all this talk about supporting the club and fighting on behalf of the fan base appears disingenuous otherwise.

Moving on, the quote says the Lib Dems want to ensure that Dulwich has a ground that “guarantees its future and reflects the club’s ambitions”. There is no clarification on why they feel the current Champion Hill facilities are best suited to protecting the future of the club, and accommodating its ambitions of growth.

Is this because the Lib Dems haven’t actually given that much thought to whether the current ground really is the best thing for the club?

The article goes on to state that the planned new stadium “risks attendances plummeting” because it “lacks the appropriate access and sufficient space for fans”.

When you have a moment, take a look at Champion Hill on Google Maps. Turn the aerial view on. Have a look at the old sports surface that takes up a section of Green Dale already, and sits directly behind the current stadium. That’s where the new ground would be.

On what planet is it sensible to claim that the “access” to the area directly next to the current pitch will be so poor, that attendances will plummet?

As for not having sufficient space, will the fans of the club not be able to console themselves, by enjoying the fact that they nevertheless have more space than they used to, since the capacity will be larger than at the present ground?

Crowds are increasing, but I don’t think a 30,00 seater is required.

In any case, it would be interesting to hear the Lib Dems explain how the current stadium offers sufficient space, while the proposed larger capacity ground would not.

As we all know, football fans are not the real target, here.

Out of 1000 Hamlet fans, how many live in south Camberwell? The answer is, well who cares what the answer is. The Lib Dems think campaigning for “green space,” no matter how disingenuously, will appeal to a far greater number of people living in the local area.

I wouldn’t mind if they’d drop the pretense about being the real supporters of the club, fighting for its future. It wouldn’t take a campaign planning expert to realise that the actual real supporters of the club would find that insulting.

But then, as I said, I think we are rather inconsequential. Saturday’s game provided a good opportunity for a photo to stick on promotional material, talking about how the Lib Dems really care about local institutions like football clubs while, oh yeah, campaigning against a loss of Green Space™ while they’re at it.

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