Darren Lewis: We are Marcus United and will beat lying Tories
Fresh from receiving his Pride of Britain award, Marcus Rashford was back on Twitter running rings around the Government.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock appeared on yesterday morning’s BBC Breakfast claiming Prime Minister Boris Johnson had made contact with the Manchester United and England striker over his campaign to feed vulnerable children during the school holidays.
“Hmm,” wrote Rashford, “Unless he’s referring to the call we had following the U-turn in June?”
It was back then that Johnson was forced into a humbling U-turn over providing food vouchers for some of England’s poorest families during the summer holidays.
Since then? Nothing.
Hancock had been caught in yet another lie. This, remember, is the man who also claimed yesterday that he agreed “very strongly” with Rashford’s campaign – after voting against it in the Commons last week.
Rashford had proven yet again that he is as skilled at outfoxing government ministers as he has been at inspiring the kindness of strangers across the country.
Not just from businesses, councils, restaurants and cafes either.
Where I live in North East London, pensioners are baking cakes and giving them to the needy in the community. Parents at my children’s school are offering their services to distribute packed lunches in their own cars.
My kids’ school, having seen Rashford’s Twitter calls to arms sent out on Thursday, drafted letters for the children to take home by the time they’d broken up for half-term 24 hours later, promising meals would be provided for kids who would otherwise go hungry. Whether the Government caves in or not, Rashford has unlocked a national camaraderie during this pandemic that the country has been crying out for.
The politicians have tried to buy him off with an MBE, ruffling his hair and suggesting he should leave the grown-up stuff to the big boys. But Rashford has been seeing them off so easily that he must, to use a footballing parlance, be wishing he could play them every week.
His is the kind of stratospheric PR success that governments and businesses pay small fortunes for.
Rashford is now on a par with US sporting legends such as basketball star LeBron James who transcend the sport because of their work to improve the communities they come from. For Rashford, a Daily Mirror Pride of Britain award does what it says on the tin.
It isn’t some anachronistic title like an MBE that most young men in their twenties wouldn’t know what on earth to do with. Nor, dare I say it, is it like the Sports Personality Of The Year award, which often has very little to do with personality.
It is a seal of approval from the nation that his sterling work has won the battle for hearts and minds across the UK.
He may well have a successful season both in a United shirt or at the European Championships with England next summer.
Yet nothing Rashford will ever do on the pitch for club or country will match his efforts for the nation during the course of 2020.
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