Saying Gary Neville a good role model for Liverpool youngsters ‘a mistake’ admits Tory Shadow Home Secretary

 March 28, 2009         1 Comment

Grayling Neville ASBO montage

It’s no wonder the Tories have been keeping their mouths shut over the last couple of years, when the likes of Conservative Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling can propose Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville as a good role model for Liverpool youngsters.

It’s such a mind-bogglingly strange thing to say, even before you factor in the fact that Neville plays for the most hated football club in the country, and the fact that there is probably no-one more hated by Reds and people in Liverpool generally. Here’s why:

“I can’t stand Liverpool, I can’t stand Liverpool people, I can’t stand anything to do with them.”

Grayling went on to admit that he shouldn’t have said Gary Neville, he meant to say Ryan Giggs instead. Liverpool fans are unimpressed.

Apparently Grayling had been out and about on the mean streets of Toxteth, where I lived for some time, and was struck by the lack of male role models.

This is probably a reasonable point, but short of Gary Neville turning up and fostering some of these kids, ploughing a few hundred grand into the Florrie and becoming some sort of latter-day Pied Piper, I don’t see how he could much help.

David Cameron has apparently dispatched the hapless Grayling, who doubles as ‘shadow minister for Merseyside’, to Liverpool to cultivate Tory voters – all three of them – in the region. Let’s remind ourselves why people in Liverpool, and the North more widely, don’t tend to vote Tory.

You could choose the wholesale dismantling of the manufacturing industry. Perhaps the war on unions. Maybe the sale of council houses that has left traditionally close-knit communities at the mercy of profiteering slum landlords.

All of these factors have left places like Toxteth shattered, with few meaningful jobs available, drug-use rife and community spirit broken by transitory occupancy.

‘There’s no such thing as society’, was the 80s’ lasting socio-economic legacy. Well, now there isn’t it’s a bit rich to visit places like Liverpool bemoaning that fact.

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