Gag-a-minute Gary a winner for the Labor Party
On the pitch, England legend Gary Neville was a tough, no-nonsense tackling defender. A little austere, perhaps. Grumpy and not exactly a whole lot of laughs.
But from the moment he stepped onto the political playing field at the Labor conference in Liverpool, the Sky Sports football pundit has been gag-a-minute Gary.
During an interview with Labor leader Sir Keir Starmer, the former Manchester United captain made several amusing references to his bitter rivalry with Liverpool FC and their players.
“Usually when I see red at Liverpool I’m in trouble,” he said at the start of the half-hour session. “It’s the best reception I’ve ever had at Liverpool.”
When the Labor leader said he plays five every Sunday, Neville joked: “Make sure you play left central midfield.”
And in a Labor conference verdict at the end of day two, he added: ‘That left wing is making a bit of noise.
Asked by Labour’s shadow culture secretary Lucy Powell if he’d seen the Women’s Euro trophy on display at the conference, he replied: “I’ve never seen a international trophy.
And when he claimed Liz Truss’ ‘failing government’ was in downtime, he said: ‘She’s made the pound fall below my reputation at Liverpool.’
Controversially, recalling the Prime Minister’s past as a Liberal Democrat and Remainer, he questioned whether she opposed windfall taxes on energy companies because she had previously worked at Shell.
And referring to the alcohol duty freeze in Kwasi Kwarteng’s budget on Friday, he joked: ‘Maybe she had a part-time gig at Bargain Booze!’
His party conference debut was a two-half game for the former footballer, who joined the Labor Party earlier this year and has been tipped to enter politics.
But in the first half, as fans packed into an auditorium at the city’s convention center for a morning sideline event, he said: ‘I have no intention of getting into politics .”
Discussing former Conservative Sports Minister Tracey Crouch’s proposals for an independent football regulator, he showed off his Sky Sports commentary skills.
“The cross was played into the box,” he said, as if alongside commentator Martin Tyler in the wicket. “All Liz Truss and her firm have to do is head for the back of the net.”
One thing that all party leaders have in common is that they love having famous supporters on their team. And Neville was player of the match here at Liverpool.
Tough and uncompromising as a player, he was a winner on the pitch. And now Gary gag-a-minute looks like a Labor vote winner.