There is perhaps only one thing more unlikely than a right-wing Tory discussing social justice. And that is ... that they start a conversation about football.
Amazingly, Iain Duncan Smith has recently been doing both. I see from Conservative Home that he initiated a recent Westminster Hall Debate about the state of English game. As Peter Oborne recently observed - in his fascinating, if risibly High Tory book, The Triumph of the Political Class - liking football is indispensible to the modern politician. All those years spent adrift from reality in wonk world, student politics or, in Duncan Smith's case, in the military, are instantly overcome by a professed fondness for the beautiful game (clearly this can backfire - remember Tony Blair and Jackie Milburn).
All this aside, Duncan Smith did make some valid (if hardly revelatory) points, mostly related to foreign talent squeezing out young British players. He compares our youngsters with those on the continent. They are recruited too late but released too early by the big clubs.
Fair enough. But Duncan Smith quotes Trevor Brooking and Alex Ferguson. I'm afraid these two, for all their achievements, are emblematic of two major problems with the English game, as opposed to solutions:
Trevor Brooking is a fully paid-up member of the Football Association's old guard. This is a world of white, middle-aged, incompetent blazer-wearing men. Armchair fans will recall with fondness Brooking's bumbling performances as a TV co-commentator and pundit for the BBC. The game's top administrators are all similarly inarticulate and unimaginative - which explains their selections of Sven Goran Eriksson and Steve McLaren as successive England managers.
Would that the FA contained a figure with even a modicum of the footballing nous of Ferguson. But the Fergusons of this world look out for their clubs, not for the game in general. That is understandable. Ferguson would be lampooned if Manchester United didn't reach the latter stages of the Champions League. That is where both the money and the success is. If that means choosing expensive foreign players, so be it.
A strong FA would step in and act. But it is weak, complacent and in thrall to big TV money.