Each week we’ll be asking a carefully selected guest (who is definitely not the first person we can find who’ll agree to do it) to predict the outcome of the next round of Arsehole Premier League matches.
Liam Fox vs Rebekah Brooks
Disgraced former disgraced ex-minister Liam Fox is very much the coming man in the arsehole world, as a string of his trade advisors would no doubt testify. This is a salesman who, if he was in Glengarry Glen Ross, would have been murdered by Al Pacino in the first reel, making the rest of the film nothing more than a courtroom drama. Alec Baldwin’s “Always Be Closing” monologue would be replaced by “Never Be Liam Fox”. And Baldwin would be right. The key to being a good salesman is not being Liam Fox. Have a set of steak knives, Alan Arkin, you’re better than him.
Set against this we have the lead actress in Michael Winner’s live-action remake of Brave. Undoubtedly an arsehole, but yesterday’s arsehole, joining Andy Coulson, David Cameron, Jeremy Clarkson and Harold Shipman in some sort of arsehole upside-down. Her time could come again, but Fox by plenty.
Fox 75 – Brooks 25
Louise Mensch vs Tony Blair
This is a dream match-up, if your dreams have been affected by an entire sheet of 1968 acid that you found behind your parents’ cupboard over Christmas. But I think it’s the game that these two arseholes have been secretly waiting for. I’ve never been to a football match where both teams strip off and have at it in the centre circle as if creating an elaborate new category in an unseen drop-down menu on Pornhub, but if I had then that would be an accurate comparison point to the Mensch/Blair fixture.
There’s no getting away from the fact that Mensch’s arsehole game is more practiced, and for that reason I’m predicting a convincing – some might say guiltily erotic – win for the brain-mashed typing machine, whose time in the Major League of Arseholes has done nothing to dull her abilities.
Mensch 65 – Blair 35
Jeremy Hunt vs Kelvin Mackenzie
Where to start? There really are no easy games at this level. Kelvin Mackenzie is not a real person. He is a character in the fantastic novel of moral depravity, ‘Stick It Up Your Punter!’ by Peter Chippindale and Chris Horrie. In the book, the lead character, “Kelvin”, spent thirty minutes weighing up his two alternative headlines, “THE TRUTH” and “YOU SCUM”, in the week after the Hillsborough disaster. He asked executives at a conference what happened at the end of the film Gandhi after it was shown on TV, having switched channels because he was (direct quote) “not interested in a load of bollocks about an emaciated coon.” He printed a report from an anonymous “psychologist” saying “all homosexuals should be exterminated to stop the spread of AIDS.” When Sun staff expressed concern, he responded by shouting: “Come out have we? Watch out, there’s a botty burglar about!” Such a character.
Hang on, I’ve just been told the book is non-fiction. What an absolute arsehole.
On the other hand, Jeremy Hunt, a man who would pay an ungodly sum of somebody else’s money to have a management consultant take off his watch and tell him what time it is – before deciding for himself it’s actually eleventeen o’clock on the 32nd of Febtember – is actively trying to ensure your mother dies alone and terrified propped up against the wall in a lightless corridor. So, swings and roundabouts.
Hunt 48 – Mackenzie 52
Theresa May vs Mike Ashley
“Arsehole means arsehole”, says Theresa May, while pointing at her elbow. Very much the Bournemouth of the Arsehole Premier League – nobody quite knows where she came from or how she got here, but it looks like she’ll somehow be around for quite some time – the Prime Minister has been showing some good arsehole form over the past few months, with definite echoes of the 1970 Brazil of arseholes, Margaret Thatcher.
Mike Ashley, like other high-profile toot-merchants Alan Sugar, Duncan Bannatyne and Peter Jones, exists in the etymological nether-zone between “arsehole” and “cock”. Unless the poll is skewed heavily towards Tyneside, where – in almost Brexit levels of delusion – they think Ashley is more of an arsehole than Freddie Shepherd, then I can’t see him besting May. In the event of his death, Ashley has also had the grace to donate his body to science, although science is expected to contest the will.
May 70 – Ashley 30
Michael Gove vs Katie Hopkins
Experts would suggest that this is a lock for Katie Hopkins, and what do experts know, Mr.Gove? More than you, I expect. Michael Gove, a man who’s had more Vine than a German alcoholic, does bring some pretty good form into this game, but that will count for nothing against the malfunctioning outrage machine of the Devon Frauenschaft.
Hopkins currently seems an unstoppable behemoth of concentrated arseholery, striding the nation like an amphetamined Godzilla who’s three days late for her therapist’s appointment. The only saving grace is realising that Hopkins’ power rests entirely in her own rejected-muppet head. However, unless a large libel action (feasible) or sobering dose of humility (impossible) takes Hopkins out of the game completely then like fellow spectral supergiant arseholes Chelsea, who I incidentally wouldn’t put it past Hopkins to be a supporter of, it’s hard to see her losing another game this season.
Gove 10 – Hopkins 90
Melanie Philips vs Iain Duncan Smith
Seems like a low-key fixture, a sort of Southampton vs Stoke, if Southampton and Stoke both had their political development arrested at the age of eleven when they walked in on their father masturbating in front of a grainy VHS that probably came from EUROPE.
Philips is quite an inconsistent performer, tending to write her columns blindfold by throwing a succession of darts at a dictionary held over the face of a quivering London-born third-generation Bengali. Meanwhile, as leader of the Conservative Party, Iain Duncan Smith was so electorally toxic he made Jeremy Corbyn look like, well, Iain Duncan Smith. Repeated winner of the award for MP who most looks like he was at the Wannsee Conference, Duncan Smith has exploited the fashions for both Brexit and incompetence to become a serious player and I can’t see him losing to someone who is, after all, a bit metropolitan, if you know what I mean.
Phillips 30 – Duncan Smith 70
Piers Morgan vs Philip Hammond
I see Philip Hammond as the Hull of the Arsehole Premier League. He shouldn’t really be here, he might half-heartedly show a few promising touches while he is, but soon he’ll be gone and nobody will remember who he is, or that he used to be the Chancellor of the Exchequer and a large ferry port. A long time ago I worked with a girl from Hull and literally nobody could understand a word she was saying. I’d have to write up transcripts of transatlantic interviews she’d done that read: “Laura: ‘Ullurrr. Ut’s Luurruurrr ‘urrrr. Ur er yuurr? Interviewee: What?” for pages on end.
I might be drifting here. Where were we? Hammond. It can’t be easy for him, having all the verve and optimism of Ingmar Bergman reading from Morrissey’s autobiography, but better to be told ”You’re fucked. You fucked yourselves” by the shadow of death than by a somersaulting Jim Carrey, or for that matter Piers Morgan. Morgan, who I last saw on a lovers’ lane holding hands with himself, is an international standard, Amsterdam-grade arsehole who would beat stronger opponents than Hammond with his eyes, and indeed his arsehole, shut. Only one winner here.
Morgan 95 – Hammond 5
Paul Dacre vs Boris Johnson
Boris Johnson is such an arsehole that he can trace his roots back to the biggest arseholes of both the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires, yet he still takes to the field against Paul Dacre like Warwick Davies asking Kobe Bryant for a quick game of one-on-one. Dacre is such a mendacious leviathan of pure, unadulterated, straight from the Colombian farm arsholeness that Pablo Escobar could have cut him into a million pieces, diluted each one with seventeen tonnes of Aptamil, and still one line of him would have been enough to turn Nelson Mandela into Arron Banks.
Yes, Johnson couldn’t be more full of shit if Eric Pickles had been using him as a septic tank, but we’re in the big leagues now and no amount of Latin is going to stop Dacre running away with this in the second half.
Dacre 60 – Johnson 40
Nigel Farage vs Toby Young
Some of the great mysteries of the world: The collapse of Mayan civilization; the wreck of the Mary Celeste; John Bishop’s career; how Nigel Farage isn’t punched in the face every single day. The man likes pubs. He’s in pubs a lot. He’s an absolute arsehole. Arseholes often get punched in the face in pubs. Why is he not among them? Seriously? Has he some sort of invisible shield like a Marvel superhero or James Corden? Somebody needs to get the Discovery Channel on this, stet.
Toby Young used to edit The Modern Review, which was like one of those vanity blogs that Vice twentysomethings have now talking about what Baudrillard would have thought about Chicken Cottage, except The Modern Review wasn’t all in lower case. Showing great arsehole potential, he’s used a combination of rank incompetence, sociopathic obliviousness and plain old-fashioned stupidity to fail upwards into a well-deserved position in the Arsehole Premier League. When Simon Pegg portrays someone in a film of their life but even he can’t quite capture what a total weapon they are, you know this is a talent to watch. But Young is up against Farage. Farage would be the biggest arsehole in any room he’s in, including the chamber of the House of Commons. Not that he’d ever, ever get there.
Farage 90 – Young 10
Rupert Murdoch vs Richard Littlejohn
Is this the week Rupert Murdoch loses his undefeated record? In defence of Murdoch, we can cite The Simpsons. In defence of Littlejohn, we can cite Richard Littlejohn: Live And Unleashed. Oof. Half-time and Littlejohn has a four goal lead while the opposition goalkeeper has birds tweeting around his eyes like Daffy Duck after a piano has just fallen on his head.
But wait. Can Littlejohn, like his beloved Spurs, lose from such a strong position? Of course he can’t, he’s an arsehole, a 1980s relic made flesh, like Banjos or Toffos or the hundred other justifiably discontinued carcinogens that Peter Kay talks about on clip shows. Littlejohn can’t lose it from here, but could Murdoch win? He’s been winning arsehole matches his whole life, and he’s, what, about 103 now? He’s going to show Littlejohn that grandpa’s still got game. He picks up the ball (of course he picks up the ball – he’s an arsehole) and slaloms his way past a frankly out of shape Littlejohn to place it triumphantly in the net. “Five-four. Full time” says Murdoch. “What?” cries Littlejohn, “it’s still four-one to me”. “Fuck off. I make the rules, you talentless fat fuck” says Murdoch. And he does.
Murdoch 100 – Littlejohn 0