Bob Russell is a nice man. Of course he does sport the regulation Lib Dem bowl haircut but other than that he is a very pleasant chap. He's also the MP for Colchester, my old stamping ground, and is an avid fan of the U's, the haplass local team.
When I lived in Colchester he had a good reputation as a constituency MP and was excellent on asylum seekers at a time when the papers were in full tilt rage at the very existance of foreigners on our shores. Looking at his record on They Work For You I am surprised at how good it is.
- Voted very strongly for introducing a smoking ban.
- Voted strongly against introducing ID cards.
- Voted very strongly against introducing foundation hospitals.
- Voted strongly against introducing student top-up fees.
- Voted very strongly against Labour's anti-terrorism laws.
- Voted very strongly against the Iraq war.
- Voted very strongly for investigating the Iraq war.
- Voted very strongly against replacing Trident.
- Voted very strongly for the hunting ban.
- Voted moderately for equal gay rights.
Bob wants to limit the number of foreigners in football teams. You can read the text here but the key part is as follows; Of the Premiership footballers "331 signed from 66 different countries, representing more than 60 per cent of those on the books of the 20 clubs; [the MPs] believes that this huge increase in players from overseas is to the detriment of the long-term interests of professional football in England and the future prospects of the national team in international competitions; and calls on the Government, working in partnership with the football authorities, to discourage football clubs from recruiting so many overseas players"
Clearly a vicious, underhand attack on the glorious Arsenal football team I hear you mutter.
It seems to me that it doesn't matter what bit of the map you come from, no one should be victimised or prevented from working because of their race or nationality. We don't seek to prevent English footballers working abroad, nor are the MPs seeking to stop Scottish players from playing even though Scottish clubs do not compete in the Premier Division.
Even Bob's beloved Colchester United relied upon DR Congo international LuaLua not that long ago. I doubt he thought foreign players were such a detriment then. This kind of thing feeds the idea that human beings from different parts of the world are somehow 'wrong' and we need to keep our little patch all to ourselves lest in get 'spoilt'. I don't hold to that at all.
In fact Bob has sponsored a second EDM this time aimed at clubs that are owned by overseas investors. Now I think, in an ideal world, the clubs should be owned by the fans. In the absence of that I'm not going to make out that there is some signicant difference between a club being owned by Wimpy or MacDonalds. It's still someone else with profit as the bottom line.
Usually when people talk about keeping racism out of football they are refering to the fans - but not this time. Bob, if you were looking for progressive EDM's to sign about football you could have signed the motion on allowing footballer Nashat Akram into the country who is shamefully having problems just because he's from Iraq.
Now, as it happens, it would be illegal to try to stop EU citizens working here on this basis so I hope this will put the mockers on the whole thing, but even the attempt from such a good MP saddens me. Tut.